Almost as soon as they are laying one of the girls has decided she would like to be a mummy hen. One of the reasons I wanted bantams for the back garden is their broodiness. I much prefer hatching under a hen than in the incubator as it takes out almost all of the legwork! The only problem we are facing is I haven’t yet added two new girls to the flock and if I separate Spitfire off into the broody coop Lightning will be left on her own which isn’t a good thing.
First things first we will be picking up another hen or two to add to the flock this week. Once all is settled in a week or so if Spitfire is still adamant she wishes to sit we’ll pop her into the separate coop and run and let her sit. We’re planning on chocolate pekin bantam hatching eggs if I can find a good breeder with eggs, if not I have found someone locally with lavender pekin bantam hatching eggs so will opt for those.
Brooding with a hen
Although a broody hen tends to be the easier way to hatch I have found that you need to make a few checks each day. My old silkies were awful for refusing to eat or drink so twice a day I would go out and turf them for five minutes so just long enough to go to the loo, have some water and a bit of feed.
I also check for any kicked eggs. If I find one I mark with a pencil and pop back under, if kicked again the next day I take away. This is because a kicked egg is usually a duff egg. Marking and replacing lets you check if it was an accidental kicking, but 9 out of 10 times the next morning I’ve found the marked egg away from the nest again.
On day 14 I sneaky candle the eggs. This doesn’t need to be done, but I like to get an idea of how large the hatch is going to be. I’ve also had one occasion where all the eggs were duds and none were developing. Since she had been sat so well for nearly three weeks when I checked I found a local breeder who had day olds and overnight slipped out the dud eggs and under the chicks which she took to perfectly and was a happy mummy hen.
I’m really looking forward to seeing little heads popping out from under a hen again – has been too long since I last got a chance to hatch!