Ashley is 6 1/2 months old and very broody. She spent two weeks being buck-bucky and pulling her feathers out of her chest. Literally, she was bald on her underside but wasn’t sitting on eggs. I actually thought she was sick or something, because she’s too young to molt.
Last Thursday, she was walking around puffed up and screaming at everyone, challenging other hens at bedtime. Being really confrontational. Still not on a nest. I’m thinking, “someone pissed Ashe off!”
Friday morning, she had chosen a nest and tucked in on two eggs. That was the point where I said “ahhh! This is what a broody Australorp looks like!”
She spent Friday and Saturday nest hopping, mostly because she kept choosing nests that other hens like to lay eggs in. The other hens, some of them older and scarier, forced her out of said nests. The nest thing is a common problem. I don’t exactly know why because we have 28 laying boxes. That’s one box for each laying hen, plus a couple empties. But they lay in … 4 – 6 of them.
I know… I have nothing. I don’t understand chicken logic. I’m pretty sure it isn’t logic. But there you have it. 28 boxes, 24 hens, 3 more young pullets who start laying soon… plenty of boxes. They use a max of 6. (If I ever convince DH to revamp the coop in any major ways, I will insist on fewer boxes, maybe like 12 or 15, and more roosting areas. Perches and ladders. But I would need to convince him first. ;-))
By Sunday night, however, Ashley had managed to find a box no one cared about, settled in on a ceramic egg (I have an egg eater. I slipped ceramic eggs into some of the boxes to discourage her until I can figure out which hen she is. We’re all betting on Stacey, given her weird behavior but have not caught her doing anything naughty.) and puffed up grumpy. When she stayed there, same nest through half of Monday, I selected six of our own eggs and slipped them under her.
The darker eggs are most likely Rhode Island Red, or possibly the sexlink/Comets. I chose a sampling of colors and sizes, to get hopefully, some eggs from my older and younger flock.
Dots and Pip have both been active mating with their girl friends, so either could be the Papa.
I had considered sending away for more Easter Eggers. But the nice lady I bought Pavel and her brothers from couldn’t verify fertility this last in the year, and My Pet Chicken couldn’t ship until next week. Given that it’s going to be getting colder in the next few weeks, I really didn’t want to make her wait a whole week sitting on a ceramic egg.
Especially not when she’s so young yet and I don’t know what kind of momma she will be. I’d much rather give my own eggs to newbies, until I see how they will react to babies. Abby and Claire can have ‘pay for babies’ because I know, now, that they will be awesome moms.
Hatch Day is October 24th. I’ll probably candle the eggs sometime next week, at the 2 week mark. There’s not going to be much to see before then anyway.
Fertility, based on last weeks dozen eggs, is at least 3/4. This is NOT scientific. I took a fresh dozen eggs and made up a pan of scrambled eggs to feed the chickens. Protein for the molters. I checked each egg as I cracked it. I counted 9 bulls-eyes out of the 12 and the remaining 3, I simply couldn’t see from the way the yolk dropped into my bowl. Not scientific, no. But it does mean I should get a small handful of babies.
The only hitch in this is that I was planning our Fall Coop Cleaning for the next couple of weeks and now I’m going to have to clean and spray for mites AROUND a broody hen. because moving her would be stupid.
They never make it easy, do they?