Thursday, July 26, 2012
Broody hens and RIP White Leghorn & Golden Campine.
Earlier this month we lost 2 of our hens. The first was the lovely Golden Campine. We haven't named any of our recent birds, because as fate has it we tend to lose the ones we name first. i'm not sure if she was just old, or if she was actually sick. She was one of the hens that came with our new coop. i know she was one of the older birds, 4 or 5 years old i believe. She had always looked rather thin and fragile and a bit sickly when we first got her, a few weeks before she passed she began dragging her tail a bit. So i wasn't really that surprised when i found her dead one morning. None of the other birds have shown any signs of illness, so i'm leaning towards the belief that it was just her time.
The other hen we lost was my White leghorn. i was really bummed to lose her, as she was one of my best layers. She was a small to medium size hen, but she laid large white eggs. She quite often laid double yolks. She also had a lot of personality. She followed me all over the garden digging through the compost i put down, or gobbling up any worms i dug. She once surprised me when i went took the lid of the chicken feed can she jumped right in and started eating the corn before i could even scoop some out. She is also the bird that spent 12 days underneath a bucket without food or water and survived!
So, as you can imagine i was really bummed to go out to put my chickens up and find her dead outside the door of the pen. There was no sign of trauma, and i'm pretty certain both of my dogs were in the house at the time. So i'm not sure what happened. There was a small trail of feather a few feet up the hill from her. So i'm suspecting she was walking down to the door, and was hit by something at the top of the hill, and rolled the rest of the way down. The only thing i can think up would be a hawk, but why wouldn't it take her? Perhaps it got spooked, or she was too big to carry off. i also wondered if it could have been one of the roosters. We only have two right now, but my little banty rooster is pretty aggressive. Then i began to question whether my dogs had been in the house or not. It wouldn't be the first time they killed one of my birds. i suppose this is one of those mysteries i'll never really solve.
So when my Australorp went broody, i was excited to hatch out a few new peeps. She originally started off with 6 eggs, but after a few days of setting most of the eggs had disappeared. So we gave her some new eggs and again, all of her eggs disappeared. Around the same time a second hen when broody, so i gave her a few extra eggs to set on and gave my Australorp a wooden egg. My hope is that she'll continue to set, and i'll be able to sneak her a couple chicks from the other hen's clutch when they begin to hatch. She just wants to be a mama so badly, i hate for her to not hatch any babies.
This is the second hen to go broody and she's setting on 6 eggs. She's one of my wild girls and i really wanted to avoid hatching out more wild game birds, so i took her original clutch of eggs and replaced them with eggs from some of my domestic hens. So she's setting on 2 americana eggs, 1 Black Star, 1 buff Orpington and 2 white leghorn (from the hen i lost). i was pretty happy that i still had a few of my leghorns eggs in a basket setting on my counter, so as long as they were fertilized they should hatch out.
A few days later my favorite black hen went missing. i immediately had that feeling of dread, then rationalized that there was a good chance she was broody too...it just seemed to be in the air. So i went to check the shed and found her setting right smack in the middle of the shed on a wooden egg. ha ha. poor girl. So i hand picked some eggs for her (marked them with a sharpie) and found a slightly safer nest hidden in the hay. She immediately accepted the new eggs, and has been incubating them since. i can't remember exactly what i gave her, but i believe she is setting on eggs from my Barred Rock, Black Star, Buff Orpington, Polish and Delaware.
If all of the eggs hatch we'll have 11 new peeps added to our flock. However, i'm guessing from experience they will not all hatch. i believe our new rooster has been doing his job, but i won't really know for another week or so. i had marked on the calender that the eggs would be hatching August 2, but that was for when the hen first started setting, and those eggs were replaced twice. So i think it'll probably be a few days after that.
It is never easy losing a good hen, but i'm looking forward to some new peeps soon. i'm really hoping that the White leghorn eggs hatch, so that we can have a part of that hen still with us.