It was while we were all gathered around our dinner table as a family one night, somewhere around the 3rd full week of May (2015), that we made the spontaneous decision to not collect some of our chicken eggs in one nesting box, and see if any of the hens would get broody, and naturally hatch them to chicks.
The next day, and the day following that, we left a total of seven eggs in one nesting box, for them to care for.
For any newcomers here, we should note that our original flock are all pure breeds, and each of our 6 chickens are a different breed. So we knew that any new chicks that hatched would be part Welsummer (because we only have one rooster), and part one of the other hen breeds. (Also known as ‘barnyard mixes’.) It was going to be fun to try and figure out whose was whose, if any hatched!
It was Plymouth, our White Plymouth Rock, that stepped up to the plate….errr, nesting box, first, and took on the role of Mama hen. She was so completely committed to caring for those eggs, and not leaving them, that we had to lift her out daily, and put her out in the big run, to go eat, drink and potty. It was really only then, that she’d take no more than 30 minutes, to do those things, recharge, and maybe sneak in a good dust bath. And then it was right back to her volunteer duties. The mothering instinct obviously comes quite easily to her.
We started with 7 eggs, because we assumed not all would develop or make it, and so we’d end up with 2 or 3, which is all we were really hoping for right now. We didn’t know that chickens have a better natural hatch rate, than artificial incubation, as we had done before. So when we candled all of the eggs once, at day 10, and saw veins and a dark moving form in every single one, two things happened.
1. I began to panic. [Read more…]