Yes indeed, the hatches were successful. Which do you want to hear about first? I’ll leave what I consider the best for last – the broody mama hen hatch.
This was our 4th time running the incubator. The first two times were terrible failures, the third was very successful and this one was somewhat successful. I believe we have figured out what the issue was and can do better next time. But as it was, at least we got some to hatch and it wasn’t a complete loss like in the past.
We had 13 eggs hatch (out of 35 that were fertile), and we had two chicks die within the first 36 hours.
We now have 11 healthy chicks growing and thriving in our brooder.
As you can see in the pictures, the feathered leg trait, from our Dark Brahma rooster, Boaz, came through strongly. It must be a dominant trait.
We are very happy with our incubation…but we are even happier with what happened out in the barn!
Banana, the broody hen
It has been my dream for a long time to have a hen hatch out chicks for us. So it was VERY exciting when Banana, one of our Buff Orpingtons, did just that, just one day after our inside hatch. It took a little while before we got to find out what she had under her. She is a good, protective mama. But after about 36 hours of hearing cheeping coming from under her, we finally got to see how she did.
If you have never seen a mama hen on her chicks, her body position might surprise you as it did us. She sits really poofed up, with her behind in the air, and her wings down toward the ground.
We waited patiently and quietly, and we got first just a peek of one of their heads, and then one chick ran right out full blast to investigate (from the safety of mama’s side, of course).
Soon, others got curious and wanted to see what was going on.
Of the 8 fertile eggs under Banana, 5 hatched out! 1, sadly, died in the first 24 hours. But the other 4 are growing and thriving.
It is so adorable to watch them interact with her, and her with them. She has taken on a drastic scratch and peck behavior, I’m guessing her instincts are telling her to teach them to scratch and peck. It is SO drastic, in fact, that she continually tears apart the feeder by scratching at it. She dumps it all over, makes a huge mess, and then scratches and pecks at it and has the chicks do the same. I continue to give her food to her in just the flat base of the feeder (you will see it in the next pictures, it is green), but I’m starting to wonder if I should just dump it right on the ground at this point because she is making such a mess and dumping it anyway.
It has been cold, snowy, and windy so we have not opened her exterior door yet to let them outside. We are hoping to let them out this weekend if the weather cooperates. We will just let her into her own pen at first, which shares wire fencing with the upper coop. So they will be able to interact with the flock that lives in the upper coop, through wire, at first until she is ready to re-enter the flock with the chicks. I am looking forward to seeing them in the sunlight. It is hard to see them well in the broody coop in the barn, and it is really hard to get good pictures of them interacting because she keeps them in the back corner away from us (understandably).
So, as you can see, there have been fun adventures going on recently. I plan to get back to normal blogging in February, and will catch you all up on all that has happened around the farm this month while I have had my break from blogging.