Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chicken Subterfuge

This spring almost all of our poultry has gone broody. I suppose because  it is such a lush season. We are new to the business of breeding poultry so our efforts to date have been a bit hit and miss. Recently we hatched turkeys in an incubator and of the thirteen that hatched, eleven survived and are doing well. One of the black turkey hens has just hatched seven chicks and they seem to be healthy and strong and I have another two turkeys sitting on eggs.
We have five little silkie bantams who live in a moveable cage in our garden, they are generally under the fruit trees and their job is to clean up fallen fruit and generally scratrch around and fertilize the area. We  used to have a rooster called Russel, but Peter dispatched him due to his loud and incessant crowing! Despite the lack of fertilised eggs the silkie hens regularly go broody and they are great mothers. After the dissapointment of one of the larger hens abanding her eggs after the first two hatched I decided to put four regular hen eggs under a broody silkie.The next week another silkie alos went broody so I gave her another four eggs. I just left them in theri usual cage. The problem with this was that the other hens were still laying so every few days I would go and retrieve the bantam eggs from under the broodies. Somewhere along the way one of the broodies stole two eggs from the other. I now no longer knew which eggs were which and when they would hatch. Yesterday I saw a couple of broken egg shells and realised the first of the eggs had hatched. So far I have seen two cute little black chicks. One hen appears to be mothering these while the other continues to sit on the nest. They have come to a shared care arrangement. I cant   wait to see what happens next, will all the eggs hatch? Will the two hens raise a batch of chicks of different ages? Will they notice they are not like them at all? Who knows!

If you look closely you can see the black head of one of the little chickens.



The otehr mother, still patiently sitting.

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