Thursday, May 22, 2008

Broody Chicken

One of my hens has gone "clucky" or broody. Hens that have gone broody act and sound different to the other non-broody hens. I'll try to get a bit of video of her when she makes her once-daily journey off the nest to eat, drink and have one almighty poo. You will see then how obvious it is that a broody hen acts differently.

The hen that has gone broody is a hen that was hatched out here at Whitelees a couple of years ago. Her father was Rocky, the handsome Welsummer that died last March.
As she is a Welsummer cross, she is much more likely to go clucky than the hybrid layers that I picked up in September. Hybrid hens have had the tendency to go broody selected out of them to make them much easier to manage. A hen that has gone brood stops laying eggs.

The more astute reader will remember that I never replaced Rocky after he died. Whitelees Cottage is a much quieter place because of it. In addition to being quieter, none of the eggs that are laid by my hens will be fertile.This is a bit of a difficult thing if a chicken decides that hatching out some of her eggs would be a good idea. None of those eggs would hatch. All her efforts would be wasted.

Yesterday, I obtained some fertile eggs from another source and did a switch. I swapped the infertile eggs with some lovely DUCK eggs. The hen never knew the difference even though they are a different colour! Duck eggs are blue. It will make removing the infertile chicken eggs that some of the other hens may lay next to her much easier to identify.

Chicken eggs have an incubation period of 21 days, three weeks exactly. Duck eggs take 28 days, an added seven days to hatch. In addition to not noticing that I've switched duck eggs for chicken eggs, hens can't count either. She'll sit on those eggs until they hatch. So, if all goes well and this hen doesn't give up the job, we will have baby ducks on the 17th of June.

It has been a number of years since we've hatched ducks here at Whitleees. I had a hen hatch out some duck eggs a number of years ago for somebody in the village. The day after the little ducks hatched out of their shells, we gave the ducklings back along with the loan of the mother hen. The Man of the Place helped me move them. I grabbed the mother hen who was fiercely protective of her little ones and TMotP put the day old ducklings in a mixing bowl in order to transport them safely to the village. On a cuteness scale of 1 to 10; 1 not being very cute to ten causing your head to explode because of the cuteness, these baby ducklings were at about 9.5!

Let's wait and see what happens!

1 comment:

Callie said...

Some of my hens have gone broody too and I am trying to break the cycle. I'll try to talk my daughter into letting a hen hatch some duck eggs. Ducklings in a mixing bowl... cute!