This is a diary-style page, documenting our latest broody hatch - day by day.
Yet another of our Buff Orpington hens has decided to go broody. She has been showing signs for a couple of weeks - puffing and clucking around the coop, looking ruffled and stressed! For the past week she has been sitting firmly in the corner of the coop, not in a nest box (not all the hens lay in there anyway), but in the other "laying corner".
Every time another egg is laid nearby, she will sneakily roll it across using her beak/chin and tuck it underneath. We have left her to it for a few days, just to see if she's going to stick to it.
Today I tried to move her into a separate hutch. I made her a cosy nest, complete with the eggs she'd been sitting on from the main coop, popped her inside, and calmly left her to it. Guess what? She wouldn't sit. This happened with our previous broody too - our orpington hens don't seem to like being moved once they're broody. In past years we have had lots of Pekin Bantam broodies - all of those we have moved to a safe place prior to sitting on eggs.
I moved her back into the main coop and started on Plan B
Today I separated a section of the main coop off, to make a safe area for the broody to sit. This is for 2 reasons:
- a. we don't want her to continue tucking freshly laid eggs underneath her - that would result in a staggered hatch.
- b. we want to keep the chicks safe from the other birds once they hatch
We have a folding metal fire guard that we picked up second hand. It's perfect!
The eggs she has been sitting on are not the eggs we want her to hatch. Although they should be fertile, she has been adding to her brood daily - some may be several days into incubation, others on a day. Rather than run the risks associated with a staggered hatch, we have some Pekin eggs waiting and ready for her. The eggs have been in the incuabator for a head-start, so we've cheated her a little - tomorrow we will swap them.
She's taken to them perfectly! Each day we check on her to see that she's moved, eaten and had a drink. Believe it or not, she's easily keeping 15 Pekin eggs well hidden beneath her! Only about 8 days to go...
Something seems to be happening. Nothing that we can see, but she seems extra protective and even gives us a strong peck if we try to touch! She somehow knows that the hatch day is drawing near.
Peeps - we can hear peeps! The chicks are starting to pip! Mummy hen is very firmly staying on the nest now - she hasn't moved at all for the last couple of days, so we moved the water & feed nearby where she can reach it.
Today broody hen got up off the nest for the first time. It's often a mixture of joy and disappointment! Joy at the fluffy cheeping bundles and disappointment if there are unhatched eggs, or chicks that didn't make it. Our broody started with 15 bantam eggs. She has 11 chicks, which we're delighted with. Of the 4 eggs left in the nest, 2 showed no sign of pipping (I'll candle them later to see if they have developed at all), 1 pipped but didn't hatch, and another was trampled shortly before hatching.
Aren't they lovely?
We'll soon be moving mother hen and chicks outside onto the grass, in an enclosed run, so they are safe and have more space. Our run has 1" weld mesh and these pekin bantam chicks are tiny, so we need to add a smaller mesh around the base to stop them squeezing through!