Sunday, July 29, 2012

Broody success!

Yesterday I checked on the broody hen in her little hoop house as part of my normal morning chores.  I was surprised to see her off the nest, although I knew she did get up daily because I saw evidence:  The food I left for her was eaten and the water level was lower each day, and once a day there would be one ginormous, stinky glob of poo typical of a broody hen.  All saved up for one epic doo each day.

She caught my interested glance and made a beeline back to the nest just as I spotted movement there.  I was able to count seven chicks before she had them all safely tucked back under her protective body.

The camera batteries were spent, and then it rained all afternoon, but I was able to get some pictures later last evening during night chores.

Is that a black head I see?

Yup, there he goes, climbing up onto Momma's back!

She tucks everyone in when I open the door.

She can make herself wider to accommodate chick shuffling.  And future rapid growth.

C'mon, show us your baby chicklets!

I count five chicks.....

Now four as she starts to tuck them back in for the night....

One more to go!  Plenty of room, son, get to bed!

A bit dark, but you can still make out the chicklets and the sweet noises.....

The eggs came from a local farm and are from a variety of hens mated to a Maran rooster.  These are some fresh genetics to add to my laying flock.  Marans are a heavy laying breed, meaning they a bred for their egg laying ability but also have enough size to them that it is worth the effort to raise the excess roosters for the freezer.  The hens have a tendency towards broodiness, a trait missing from most modern chicken breeds because when a hen goes broody, indicating her instinct to raise a brood of chicks, she stops laying eggs.

I value this trait.  With a few hard working broody hens in my flock, I can raise all our replacement laying hens and all our meat chickens.....along with a few ducks, turkeys, and geese if I can get my hands on fertile eggs when a hen goes broody.  
 
My dream is to build a little town of portable broody houses for the six or eight weeks or so that a hen stays with her babies.  Raising chicks is a lot of work and I'd rather pay some hens to do it for me....they do a MUCH better job, anyways.  My hen-raised chickens have always been better foragers and hardier birds in general, even if the hen was raised under a heat lamp herself.  If she retains the trait to go broody, it seems that she also retains the instinct for survival, and teaches her babies how to find the best food.



2 comments:

  1. I love it when my hens sit. It is so much better for the chicks

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