Monday, November 29, 2010

Eccentric Hen

After the fox snaffled our last two hens last autumn, leaving a lonely bantam cockerel widower, Susan bought two replacements - a 'full-size' hen and a pretty little black bantam. They're both good layers, and pretty soon little black hen was broody - sitting on about a dozen eggs. It was time to move her and the eggs into the 'broody box' - our mini-maternity unit where she could care for the chicks undisturbed until they've grown a bit.

She went crackers. Obviously upset at being separated from her mate, she shrieked and fussed - almost cried. A seriously distraught hen - it was heartbreaking to hear her. Usually a hen will settle back down in an hour or two - this went on for two days, at the end of which she scattered the eggs in all directions and would only sit on two. One hatched and we now have a fine hen that's the spit of her dad as far as colouring's concerned - the hens all went back together. But what a waste of potential life.

Come early November, little black hen started staying in the coop and rarely emerging. I was worried - thought she must be ill. After a week I thought she must be on the way out.

Then my wife spotted four eggs under her. Hens are supposed to get broody in spring, not winter.

She hatched one a week ago and abandoned the other eggs - we moved mother and baby into the broody box with no complaints this time. The chick will be tough if it lives - the garden thermometer hit a minimum of 12 Fahrenheit (-11 Celsius) yesterday - bare metal was sticking to my fingers. It's quite balmy this morning at 25 (-4 Celsius).


Shlomo said...

After the fox snaffled our last two hens last autumn

You need some Jack Russells; they'll tell you when Mr Fox is about...and clear your property of rats in the meantime.

And when was the last time you saw a hunt saboteur demonstrating against the [often needless] savagery of a fox? That Roald Dahl fellow has a lot to answer for!

Dead Dog Bounce said...

Could you have stray light making her think that it's spring?

Even Christmas lights might do it.

Foxy Brown said...

The phenomenon of hen's abandoning some of their eggs is interesting - nature's instinct that the unhatched chicks have a lesser chance of survival. Get an incubator.

Anonymous said...

Fancy incubating some eggs for me Foxy darlin?! *nudge* *wink*

(Of course if you dont significantly resemble the girl in your pic I may have to rethink)

Laban said...

Well the chick's still alive as of Friday night - and it was -15c this morning on the garden thermometer. Their metal water container was frozen to the ground and too painful to pick up without gloves.