My Tiny Brood of Backyard Chooks

chooks, hens or chickens?


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At last I have my own Orpington

My friend has Orpingtons. I love the fat, waddly way they walk. I love their colours and I love their nature.

I knew one day the time would come when I would have my own Orpington chicken.

A couple of months ago, I bought two Plymouth Barred Rock chickens, Hillary and Henley, in their first laying season. I bought them because I needed to boost our egg production.

A few weeks after the girls settled in, Henley, became broody. I had to weigh up whether to her let her become a mum and drop our egg production for a few months, or try to break her broodiness. I took the easy way out and let her become a mum.

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So of course, I called my friend and within a few hours, she had delivered four fertile eggs from her wonderful brood of Orpingtons. She recently had to get rid of one of her roosters and so was unsure of how fertile the eggs were.

Henley had been sitting tight on her golf balls for three days. I had read that it was best to put eggs under a broody at night when they were sleepy and less feisty and they will be more accepting of the eggs. My last broody was a very nasty protective mama and would try to attack me every time I went near her. She would come at me with claws and wings out, and her beak open. She was one scary mama.

But Henley was a very friendly girl and even as a broody she was quite happy to eat out of my hand when I offered her food on her broody nest. So I don’t think I need to wait until dark. I hobbled very slowly outside (I had just had a foot operation a few days before) and reached under Henley to remove the golf balls. I had to give her a little nudge to get all of them. After a few gentle bok boks, Henley wriggled herself and settled right down on top of those eggs.

Twenty one days later, she hatched one beautiful Orpington chick and discarded the rest of the eggs two days later. (I checked and they were infertile.) I am hoping my one Orpington chick is a girl. If not, I will have to try for my Orpington another time. I think she is a girl. Time will tell.

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Brinsea mini advance incubator hatching photos

The first time I used my incubator, I had a complete failure (problem was with the eggs, not the incubator). This time I had five eggs hatch out of six.

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When I got home from work there was one chick hatched and another two hatched shortly after. (I think the second two waited for me to get home so I could watch them.)

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Then another one pipped. You can see the little egg tooth peeping out.

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Then it zipped it’s way around the egg.

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Then it pushed on the shell to make enough room to get out.

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Hello world.

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Exhausted and time for a sleep. After all, the pip did start at 7pm and the chick greeted us at 1:30am. Ah, hrrm, yes, well I did sit up watching the whole time. It was my first hatch after all. One of the previous chicks pipped, zipped and greeted us all within 20 minutes. These are Speckled Sussex chicks.

 


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Plans and animals don’t always work out

I bought an incubator because I had two roosters and no broody hens and wanted more chickens.

I bought two Plymouth Barred Rocks at point of lay as I desperately needed to boost our egg production.

Now I have no roosters (so no fertile eggs for the incubator) and one of my new Plymouth Barred Rock girls is broody (so a sudden reduction in my daily egg production)!

Oh well, at least I will have baby chicks.

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Henley is a first time mum so I hope it all works out. She is sitting on four Orpington eggs that are due to hatch in the next few days.