I need some more layers. My laying hens are just not laying enough to keep us in eggs and I think it's ridiculous for me to have to buy eggs at the supermarket. So when one of my hens went broody last month I decided to let her sit on a clutch of eggs and (hopefully) hatch me some more layers. The only problem is that my only rooster, Drogo, is a very small banty and most of my hens are standard sized. I've seen Drogo give it the old college try with the full-sized ladies but it just doesn't look like all the parts line up right. So I am not sure if my standard-sized hens' eggs are fertile these days. I didn't want to waste my time (or the hen's) by having her sit on eggs of dubious fertility so I got a dozen fertile banty eggs from my neighbor. My broody hen sat on them dutifully for 25 days. They were supposed to hatch on day 21 but I let her go a few extra days just in case. On day 25 I finally candled one of the eggs (which is just a fancy way of saying I held it up to a bright light to look inside it) and it was clear. No embryo. Ditto for all of the other eggs underneath her.
|Ten chicks ready to meet their new mama|
|Big Sister with an Ameracauna chick|
The next morning I went out to the coop to check on everybody and there was Mama Hen caring for her ten babies! Our trick totally worked and I bet she is so glad to get out of that hot nesting box and be able to move around with her babies. Broody hens don't eat much while they are setting because they spend all day and night on the eggs, getting up once a day or so for a quick drink and nibble. Plus, it's 97 degrees here in the afternoons so it can't be much fun to sit in a nesting box in that heat.
The chicks are adorable and hen is doing great as a first-time mama. I just wish it wasn't going to be 6 months before those little pullets start laying!
In other chicken news, the eight roosters that were added to our duck and guinea order back in March are getting to be slaughtering size. They are beautiful birds and I have determined that they are Rhode Island Reds. I'm tempted to keep one in my flock but I don't know. Floyd was such a problem that I'm hesitant to try another full-sized rooster. If all goes as planned we will slaughter tomorrow morning before it gets too insanely hot outside. Then I can leave those birds chilling while we go to the pool!