29 March 2009

Hen with seventeen chicks - this is a record number of chicks for us!

Hen with seventeen newly hatched chicks
Hen with 17 chicks, première mise en ligne par hardworkinghippy.

We heard cheeping from the hay bales yesterday and found this hen with 17 chicks!
We moved her and her brood to the hen house where they'll be safe from magpies for a while.

We've another hen who has started sitting in the past few days, a large black Marans hen. She's chosen a shotgun powder barrel which is what we offer our hens for egg laying. We get the barrels from a neighbour who works in an armoury and they're an ideal size and shape for some straw, the eggs and the hen. We cut the plastic lids to make a lip to hold the contents in.

When we know the hen's sitting, we move the barrel gently into a big cage inside the chicken shed so that she can be left in peace and not disturbed by the other hens, who often creep in beside a sitting hen to lay.

If we don't control this, the chick inside the egg doesn't get the necessary 21 days to hatch and dies inside the egg. If the hen is a particularly good mother and waits until all her eggs are hatched before moving from her nest, the older chicks go further and further away from her and are very vulnerable. Once the late chick hatches and leaves the nest, he's expected to join in with his older siblings, just can't keep up and often dies.

Yesterday I got a lovely present of a dozen really dark big Marans eggs. I wanted some pure Marans eggs this year because our Marans have been crossed with our last cock George who was a Bramah and of course his offspring don't lay the dark brown eggs which are so pretty.

In this photo you can see the difference between our red hens' eggs - that's the light egg, our cross Bramah/Marans - the spotty egg on the right and the pure Marans egg - a dark chocolate brown. The next time we've a hen who starts sitting I'm going to practice our own form of genetic engineering and swop her eggs for the Marans.


Anonymous said...

OMG...they are so cute!!! i have been pondering getting chickens for years. i live in the city so that has been part of the reason i have not taken the leap. however, i have 2 acres and i figure with a chicken tractor i could realize some good eggs from happy chickens. i just know i am going to fall in love with them too!!! joyce

La Ferme de Sourrou said...

Get chickens - you'll never regret it Joyce!

Don said...

That is amazing! I had one hatch out seven and thought that was a lot. She must be quite the wide body. She looks so proud and protective. I hope one of mine goes broody soon. There is nothing like a hen with chicks wandering the farm!!

Anonymous said...

thank you so much for the advice. i am going to hunt down a good chicken tractor and then find the chickens! i just found your blog recently and have serious farm envy. your place is a dream! as i said before i live right in the city. this year i have converted my entire lawn into raised beds and am doing square foot gardening! joyce

detroit dog said...

I love the middle photo -- of the hen sitting. Your photographs always amaze me. So does your information.

Angie Moore said...

Amazing brood! By the way,Irene, our Maran eggs are much darker than the one in your photo!! We call them mahogany. If you are ever passing this way you are welcome to some for your broodies. We have a broody sitting and 7 eggs in the incubator. What a lovely time of year.

homelymum said...

This is lovely! I hope you post this to growveg as I am sure the chicken people would be really interested!


La Ferme de Sourrou said...


I'd love to post more on growveg, I read the posts almost every day. It's a great forum with a lovely atmosphere but the days just aren't long enough!

Thanks Don and Detroit Dog!

Angie, I hate going away from here especially at the moment - could you send me some eggs by post? ;-)

Irene x

Angie Moore said...

I could post, but we have had a poor hatch rate from posted eggs..perhaps we will be down your way sometime and I will bring you some. I know what you mean about going away, we are always happy to stay at home!

Chris said...

Nothing better than a happy snap of a broody mum with her chicks. Hopefully your growing season in the garden will be just as productive.

If you are going to do any posts on vegetable garden in future, I'd love to know how you plant seeds in situ with free ranging chickens. Or basically how your chickens intermingle with the vegetation.

I had a mango tree planted six months ago, which nearly got dug up by my araucanas. As it was planted on a slope they managed to unearth the lower section. Must have found some juicy worms, but I had to act fast to save my mango tree.

Have you had any near misses with your chooks and food production?

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