Sunday, 17 May 2015
No sooner had I written that none of my hens was showing any inclination of going broody, than the dwarf hen decided it was time to hatch some babies.
I tested her out for a few days first to ensure she really was broody, and not just sitting in the brood box for the sake of it. When I was sure, I replaced her eggs with some Maran, Legbar, and Araucana eggs. Eight in total, which I thought was a lot for such a tiny hen not yet a year old.
I marked my calander for 21 days and began the anxious wait.......
Sure enough, day 21 the first two chicks hatched. Followed during the next 24hours by three more. I waited another two days, but no more hatched, so removed the eggs and shells and cleaned up her brood box. When I broke open two of the remaining eggs they had poorly developed chicks that had not gone past about week one.
So now I have three Maran, one Legbar and one Araucana chicks. Super cute and all I want to do is spend time watching them.
The broody hen is doing a fabulous job and is extremely ferocious towards anyone (or thing!) that comes near. She is resigned to the fact that my hands keep appearing and replacing food and water, but is not happy about it. Equally resigned to the fact that I keep stealing her babies to cuddle and check over each day. I want them to be reasonably tame, so daily handling and talking to is essential.
One of the Maran chicks was attacked by the rooster in its first day of life. It is now short an eye, and part of its top beak has broken off. So far, after nearly a week, it is still going strong and growing. If it shows any signs of suffering or of not thriving it will have to go to chicken heaven, but till then it can grow and enjoy life.
I will have to share these chicks with my neighbour. He was the owner of the Marans whose eggs my hen clutched. That is fine. For a first attempt we have done well in getting five chicks. He would like a new rooster, so we are crossing fingers that we have one rooster and the rest hens. Only time will tell.
The chicks above are (from left) a Legbar, Araucana X Legbar, and Maran.
Here is another photo just so you can squeee!