Determined Faverolles chick almost didn’t make it

Jackie Adams holding her plucky Faverolles Cochi, on her right arm, and a younger bird on the left o

Jackie Adams holding her plucky Faverolles Cochi, on her right arm, and a younger bird on the left one - Credit: Archant

A little Faverolles chick nearly didn’t make it. But her determination saw her through. Reader Jackie Adams, from Kent, tells the story

Hatch under a broody - it’s natural and easy. Cochi, my Salmon Faverolles hen, might not agree. She did just that with almost disastrous results.

I have another Faverolles, Baby, whose mission in life is to be a mum. In 2012 Baby went broody time and again. Each time I got her out of it, but on the sixth occasion I relented and obtained some Faverolles hatching eggs.

This was August and the eggs were due to hatch on September 12. They didn’t. This was the first time for Baby, and from day 18 she hadn’t sat as tightly on those eggs as the books said she should. First time for me too. I was pulling my hair out. Why hadn’t they hatched. But the following morning (Day 22) I looked in the broody coop and . . . there was a chick! In fine fettle too, but (always a but), there was an egg with part of the shell pecked away and a beautiful chick inside. I could see the head, the down was dry but no movement. As I watched, Baby rolled the egg underneath her and I wondered, if, in doing this, she had accidentally suffocated the chick. What should I do? Disturb Baby and take the egg, or leave her to it. I left her to it.

That afternoon there was another healthy chick and by evening a scrawny damp little thing lying next to Baby. Should I leave it, or put it under Mum? Again I left it, surely Mum would look after it.

The next morning the little creature was still lying next to mum. I realised this was the chick I had seen in its shell because, whilst its body down was damp, its head down was dry. It had obviously used all its energy getting out of the shell and had lain damp and feeble all night next to the warmth and comfort its foster mother could have provided if only she had known it was there. I quickly learnt from this that it’s the cheeping that connects chick to hen; no cheeping, hen not interested. I thought at first that it was dead but then I noticed a tiny movement.

I rushed it indoors, blew several times over its head in an attempt at an avian kiss of life, gently massaged the little body to warm it and dry the down, then wrapped it in a tea towel and laid it in a margarine tub and prayed.

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The stamina of so tiny a creature was amazing, because, after a short while in the tub, it was cheeping loudly and scrabbling to get out of its swaddling wrap. So back it went to the broody coop and the warmth of Mum’s fluffy bottom. A short while later I scooped it out again: all three chicks were cream, so I put a blob of cochineal on its head to differentiate it from the others.

From then on, the little creature flourished, eating, drinking, scratching the grass searching for tasty morsels, and after just a few days ‘it’ became ‘she’, as her wing feathers elongated and her tail feathers grew. She also acquired her name, Cochineal, shortened to Cochi. She laid her first egg at six months, and although quite small for a Faverolles, she is fit and well, and has a strong bond with the Mum who unwittingly ignored her.