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Baby Banzai

Author Photo
By Shana Thornhill | Apr 12, 2012

I’ve kept you hanging about Baby Banzai for long enough. Here’s the whole story.

You know that I have two Phoenix/Yokohama crosses. One day, Sushi (the pullet) started to lay. Sure enough, I think my Silkie hen (Beautiful Sweet) got the radar. My Silkie is an amazing layer for a couple of weeks at a time, but after that she goes broody if you look at her crosseyed. I must have looked at her funny, so she was broody. I figured what the heck. If she wants to set eggs this bad, why not let her? After all, I was pretty sure that the Phoenix eggs would be infertile at this stage. I’d just have to candle them to make sure they didn’t go rotten.

So I put three eggs under Beautiful Sweet. She was rather disconcerted to be moved to new quarters at night, but she quickly settled in. I put her in my screen porch in a large dog crate with a milk crate stuffed with hay as a nest. She soon made it her home. She started to brood with a vengeance. I’d never seen a chicken go broody before her, and her zombie-like trance was nothing short of amazing.

Enter my son. He wants to HELP. He’s four. A few days after I put the eggs under Beautiful Sweet, he decided to help by gathering them for me and leaving them on the counter. I put them back under her as quickly as I could, preparing for doom. Several days later, he wanted to check them and dropped one. Shortly thereafter, he broke another one. So, we were down to one.

Again, I thought, what the heck. I put three more eggs under that gorgeous Silkie. By now, she’d been setting for about a week, showing no signs of boredom. I locked the cage. I chastised my son. Soon it was candling day. You could have knocked me over with a Silkie feather when I found that ALL FOUR were fertile . . .and one was due in a week and a half. The others had another 2 weeks to go. It had to be a mistake, I thought. After all, I haven’t candled anything for 20 years, and that was parakeet eggs. I settled in for the wait.

I went out to candle on what I thought was the night before due date and heard very tiny peeps. WOW. I reached under my (thankfully tolerant) Silkie and found the tiniest little chick I’d ever seen in my life. For some reason I was surprised at her tiny size, even though I knew she came from an egg about the size of George Washington on a dollar bill.

Now what to do? If I left that baby with the hen, she’d abandon the other three eggs. Then there was the question of keeping the baby warm. Both of my heat lamps were already being used. I made the choice. I took her out and set up a box on top of my other chick brooder to use some of the heat from that lamp. I put some hay chop in it, then covered it with paper towels, even the cutout handholes. She’s just born, I figured. She won’t possibly get out of there. I set up a waterer with marbles and scattered feed. I put her in the box.

Shortly thereafter, I heard a very tiny thud. She had fallen out of the handhole in the box on top of the brooder (which is over 2’ tall and sits on top of a 2’ platform). With my heart in my mouth, I cradled her tiny body in my hands. I willed her to be OK. Soon, she moved and hopped up. She seemed OK! I found her a different box (with no handholes!) and placed her in it. She was promptly christened Banzai in honor of her leap.

I checked on her constantly. I had shown her how to drink, and I saw her peck at the food. Still, on the third day after her hatching, she spent a lot of time sleeping. I thought she might be cold and lonely, so I picked her up and carried her around with me. When I had to make supper, I put her back in the box.

An hour later, her tenacious little heart had stopped beating. I’d lost her. I felt like I let her down but I wasn’t sure what I could have done.

Her 3 siblings also hatched just a little earlier than I expected, but I thought I’d stay out of it this time. They’re with my broody Silkie and all are doing wonderfully. So, lesson learned for me!

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