This black hen is raising five baby ostriches as her own at Crowes Nest Farm in Manor (Kate Weidaw, KXAN)
Updated: Wednesday, 06 Jul 2011, 4:12 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 06 Jul 2011, 4:12 PM EDT
MANOR, Texas (KXAN) - Chances are you've heard stories before about animals raising animals of a different breed.
Like cats nursing puppies.
At Crowes Nest Farm, a nonprofit organization a few miles east of Austin, there's a similar situations playing out with some baby ostriches .
"We have all your basic farm animals with a few additions," said David Williams, director of Crowes Nest Farm.
Like buffalo and ostrich. Williams started taking in the large birds back in the 1980s when farmers didn't want them anymore.
"It was a failed agriculture experiment of trying to market ostrich meat and ostrich products," said Williams.
But when these birds started having babies they never made it very long.
"We always had bad luck, either the parents would step on them or the owls would get them at night or the coyotes would get them during the day. And none of them ever survived," he said.
This time, Williams wanted to try something a little different. When the five ostriches were just a day old, he took them from their mother and put them in the aviary and assigned a new animal to be the mother hen.
"A little black hen, call her the surrogate mamma. She has taken them under her wing so to speak and she's the mamma, they go everywhere she goes," said Williams.
They sleep together, eat together. It's quite the attachment. But very soon these cute little six week old ostriches may have to say good-bye to their new mom.
"After three months they grow a foot a month up to eight feet," said Williams.
And will weigh 300 pounds. The farm will build a new enclosure next to their current home so they can still see the hen. While the transition may be tough, a farmer tends to take a more practical view.
"Remember they are birds, and their brain isn't bigger than the end of your finger. So it should help in the transition process," said Williams.