1:2 DILIGENCE - The Mama Hen with her Chicks pt1

Diligence day 1

Do you have chickens? Have you ever closely watched a mama hen with her chicks?

This module will show you some amazing traits of a chicken mama, explain the differences with a grouse and ask you to explain in your journal the ways your parents protect you diligently as well!

Building a Home (or a Nest)

A hen, like a grouse (a type of bird with a long tail) is a model parent. The female bird finds a hidden, protected spot and will make a nest very carefully.

Referring to a grouse, Character Sketches p. 297 reads,

"She scrapes out a hollow in the ground and lines it with dried leaves and down [a down feather near can be found where a bird lays eggs - as shown in the picture below where that feather stuck to an egg!]. She lays eleven to twelve eggs which she carefully covers each time she leaves the nest.

"The female begins incubation [or sits on the eggs to keep them warm] after all the eggs are laid. She [a grouse mama] sits on them continuously for approximately twenty-four days, leaving only to feed for short periods in the morning and afternoon. If an enemy approaches, she will flush, but as she progresses further with the incubation, she becomes more and more reluctant to leave. Towards the end of the twenty-four day period, she stays so long that a fox could actually catch her before she flew away."

That is how much a mama loves her babies - even before they arrive!

The picture above is of chicken eggs. When one of our mama hens lays an egg, all the other hens to lay eggs in the same nest, so all the eggs will not always be the same color as above.

The chicks may also come out looking very different than the mom who raises them as shown in the picture below!

After the mama hen works hard to make a comfortable nest to protect her eggs, she begins to lay an egg a day. After she and the other hens that might be in her roost have laid a dozen or so eggs, she will begin to set or sit on her eggs for 21 days until they hatch. She is so diligent to keep her eggs warm that she might only get up once or twice a day to get herself some food and water - the rest of the day she is focused on keeping the eggs warm and turning them regularly so that every part stays evenly warm - it is quite a job!

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Baby Chicks

Once the chicks hatch, they need to be kept at 95 degrees F. for the first week. Every week thereafter, they need a little less warmth - but only five degrees less. Imagine if the chicks hatch in the early spring! In California, the daytime temperatures are 70-80 degrees, but at night it can get way too chilly for a baby chick. That means on a chilly 60 degree day, the chicks can forage or scratch to find bugs and greens for only a short time before they need to get warm again.

So the chicks hide within the mama's warm feathers.

You keep warm when you are moving - so do baby chicks! (See video below)

Mama is Diligent to protect her chicks

Look carefully at the above photograph. The rooster on the left is meeting the two day old chick for the first time. Roosters protect the flock but they can be a little rough.

What is the mama hen doing in this picture? Is she in a position to be diligent to protect her baby chick if she needs to?