Earlier this year we had a hen or two setting eggs and they hatched out about a dozen chicks. I left three with the hen and put the rest in a brooder, thinking they'd have a better chance for survival. What a failed experiment! This morning I noticed, all of the ones raised in the brooder are gone, taken by predators, and only one of the three that were with the hen are gone. Her success rate was many times better than my method. The reason the ones I raised are gone is because they had no mentor, no mother to show them the way or politic for them. All chicks come out of the egg already knowing how to scratch and find food, so that's not the issue. But when the flock wouldn't accept them, they to ventured farther away to scratch and peck the ground. Badger guards the chickens of the flock and they seem to understand that they must stay within his range to stay safe. I don't lose chickens to predators when the chickens stay within his range, which is right around the house, but once they venture down the driveway or into the ravine, usually they don't last long. The conclusion to my experiment? Of course, Mother Nature knows best. In my own defense, another reason I only left her three was because she kept jumping back up to the nest to roost at night and the little ones couldn't follow. The two somehow survived being left on the ground alone at night, though, so I'm sure the rest would have been okay with it, too.
A flock of chickens is not chaotic and random, as you might think. There is a certain hierarchy and each chicken knows its ranking in the flock. This is true for all animals which live in flocks or herds.
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