Saturday, September 3, 2011

New Mother!

A couple of months ago, one of our hens decided to go broody. When we say that a hen 'goes broody', we mean that she decides that it's time to sit on some eggs and try to hatch them. The only problem was that she wasn't actually sitting on any eggs, but sometimes it can be pretty hard to get a hen to quit when she's decided it's time to have some babies. Luckily, we had some extra fertilized eggs that didn't fit in the incubator, so we tucked a few eggs under her to see if she would hatch them out.

It can't be easy to have the patience to wait out a chick before it hatches. We have these fancy incubators with controlled heat and humitidy and machines inside that turn the eggs side to side six times a day, and I still had trouble finding the patience to let the rest of nature take it's course. A hen, on the other hand, does nothing but sit on those eggs and turn them around once in a while for three whole weeks. That's a lot of time staring at the same coop wall day after day.

And like clockwork, three weeks after recieving her surrogate eggs, she had become the proud new mother of six beautiful baby chicks.

It turns out that natural brooding is also way more successful than incubating eggs. The only eggs under our hen that didn't hatch turned out to be infertile to begin with, basically giving her a 100% success rate for hatching this year. Even the best, most practiced chicken breeders with the most advanced incubators only get somewhere around 80%, and our own incubating experiment this year wasn't anywhere near that successful.

I think maybe we'll just let the hens do what they do best in the future, and let them do all our incubating from now on...

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