Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chickens: The Bantams

Three years ago, Mr. Farmer agreed to pick up a few baby chicks to amuse a friend's children for Easter. Day old chicks are not easy to come by at that time of year because most reputable breeders want to avoid exactly what we were attempting. Newborn chicks are very fragile and smother easily. A good number of them die on their own, without the assistance of young children who don't know how to handle them. When we located them, we bought twice as many as we needed.

Just before Easter, we set up some eggs for the children to watch. They checked on them over and over. Then, on Easter morning, something amazing happened. The Easter Bunny left a bunch of candy, and the Easter Chicks had hatched out.

Knowing what we do about city children and baby chicks, we prepared a place for them to stay after spring break ended and the children returned to the big city. They had a nice cage with a warming lamp and all the food and water they needed. There was the expected loss, but most of them grew into adulthood and the hens were integrated with our layers (the roosters were relocated). They even laid eggs for a while, but bantams just don't lay as prolifically as those egg-laying machines, the leghorns. 

For nearly three years, the children came to visit when the weather was nice. They took some eggs home with them on most visits and enjoyed them. They fed them and chased them around like they were in a petting zoo. And they argued over which was his, and which was hers, and which was hers.

When the little brown eggs stopped coming, things changed. Our cute little bantams were still sweet and pretty. But they had taken to sitting on the nest almost constantly. They barely came out to eat or drink, and they discouraged the new hens from laying by being in the way. At first we just physically removed them from the nest a few times a day, figuring they would get the hint. Nature got the better of them, however, and we had to separate them to their own cage in the side yard.

It was a good arrangement. There were 2 left alive and well, so they kept each other warm and company. They loved eating the grass and bugs in the yard that the other chickens didn't have access to. We moved the cage every day or two so that they always had fresh grass, and they kept that bit of the yard tidy. They even laid an egg every now and then.

One day last week our nephew came to visit. He took our two remaining bantams on their next adventure. His two daughters, 5 and nearly 3, have taken quite a liking to them. I understand they even take them out of their cage and into the house to play with them. They are house chickens now. They are happily retired as beloved pets. Let's just hope that no stray eggs are found stashed in corners weeks or months after they are laid.

Our Broody Hens
On the Nest, but Not Laying


  1. Very interesting story. I can see something like this in a Reader's Digest or something. Add some Jesus stuff to it and it could go in Guideposts. lol I still have tons of egg cartons for you.

  2. I'm sure I could toss in some "Jesus Stuff" every now and then, but I'm not sure how it would fit into this particular story... LOL After all, spring chicks are part of the pagan Easter celebration, not the Christian one.

    Feel free to bring egg cartons any time you are ready. I am completely out of them and have only flats left, which most people find inconvenient- especially for travel!!


  3. Great story! I'm glad the bantams found a home of their own. Glad to be a new follower!

  4. I'm glad, too. They were always handled, so they were always sweet and agreeable. My little great-nieces are enjoying them a lot, which makes me very happy.

    Welcome aboard, Alexis (and "Rosa"... wink wink)! I'm checking out your blogs, too!