And This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Every since I watched Abby hatch and raise her wee little Pipsqueak, I have been in love with the process of hens raising chicks.  They learn so much more from their mothers and it’s nicer having them with the flock rather than needing to be in the brooder box.

So, when Rapunzel went broody right after Pavelle did, I jumped at the chance to let her raise Little Dude’s 4-H chicks.  We even let her hatch some of them by hand. 

It seemed to go well at first.  We snuck the three who hatched from the incubator down to Rapunzel in the middle of the night and slipped them under her.  She snuggled in and seemed content to sit on them.

They all seemed really happy together for the first week and I had a lovely set of Week 1 photos to show off… and then at about the week-and-a-half mark, that all changed.

Rapunzel, who had by this time, been broody for 5 weeks already while we waited for the special order eggs to come, decided that she wanted to take her broody outdoors and see the sunshine.  They’d already been moving about the coop under her supervision and that didn’t seem like an unreasonable request.

However, at some point in time, she had begun pecking at the feet of some of the little ones.  I noticed the first one on Friday night.  Little ‘Cutie’ – one of the little gray ones we couldn’t identify – had bloody and swollen feet and as I watched, Rapunzel kept pecking at them.   I removed the chick for the day, treated the feet with Vetricin and Scarlex Oil, and put her back under Rapunzel at night.  By Saturday morning, a second chick – the Grumpy one -was also sporting bloody tootsies.  I removed BOTH chicks, treated them again, and put them in the broody.

I spent a good part of that Saturday observing Rapunzel with the other chicks.   She would sit on them, warming them, with no problems at all.  Then, she would get up, go to scratch in the dirt, call for them to come see what she had found, and then forcefully pecked the feet of the first chicks to approach.   She got Rocky (Little Dude’s Barred Rock) and the light Brahma chick a couple of times while I observed.

Sunday, Cutie and Grumpy were walking better and healing up some, so I risk putting them back with their family.  Rapunzel accepted them under her, but during the day, the scene of ‘call them over and then peck’ repeated.   She would target Cutie, Grumpy and now Rocky, who now had a wound forming on one foot.  Now and again, she would go after the little Brahma, too, possibly because of his feathered feet.

She only did this when they were out playing and eating.  If they were under her, she was a happy momma, bucking softly and talking to them.

I had the sinking suspicion that she would slowly work her way through all the chicks, pecking and maiming all their feet.  So, in order to save them, I took them all away from her.

These pictures, below, are the last pictures of them as a happy family, before the blood bath began.

It was heart breaking to them away.  You see?  She wanted them.  She wanted to sit on them and nurture them.  She paced the coop for days, talking them through the walls even though she couldn’t see them and when she figured out where the brooder was in relation to the coop, she jumped up on the roost to peer over at them, making screeching noises at me to “get away and give me my babies back!”

They, in turn, called out for her, alarmed and upset and NOT happy in the brooder.  Who can blame them?  She was momma and it was a strange box with a red light.

Every morning, I put her in with them, thinking maybe she would forget about their toes (which were healing nicely) and that just maybe I would give them back to her.

Each time, she went to them, calling and bucking softly, sitting with them and letting them gather under her, and they’d be fine for about 10-15 minutes.  Then she would get  up, go to explore the brooder and scratch to show them things… call to them to come look… and yes, you guessed it – attack their toes again.  Cutie, Grumpy, Rocky… then anyone else.

This happened thee days in a row.

I gave up trying to let her try.

I don’t know why she did it.  She certainly acted like she wanted them.   But I couldn’t let her ruin their feet.   As it is, poor little Cutie has one toes that is now broken and misshapen.  He/she can walk on it, but it will never be the same.

So I stopped letting her in to see them.  This was still heart breaking.  She would alternate between returning to the coop to look for them and following Pavelle and her chicks around like a forgotten nanny.

In the meantime, I had another dilemma to deal with.   How to raise these chicks so that the flock -who had just started to get to know them – didn’t forget them?  I want a seamless integration and with the last re-design of the coop, we can no longer split it down the middle.

During a string of hot days, hot enough that 2 week old chicks wouldn’t need a brooder lamp, we had the idea.  DH built a little playpen for them.  On the hot days, I can take them outdoors, for a couple hours at least, with water and food.

They get the sunlight, grass and bugs their one-time momma tried to introduce them to, and the other chickens get to socialize with them.

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The babies in their new playpen.   When I let them out on nice, warm days, the hens and Dots come other and say their hellos and then leave them alone, for the most part.   Notice Rapunzel there on the left?

The first two days we used it, Rapunzel went to them and attempted to talk and call to them through the chicken wire.  Only half the chicks would respond to her.  They were starting to forget ‘momma’ even if momma was not ready to forget them.

I tried – once – to put her in with them outdoors… to the same, sad and heart wrenching conclusion as the other times.

It just isn’t meant to be.

I don’t know if 5 weeks broody was too much for her brain, or if she still thought they needed to be eggs, or if 7 was too many chicks for a new mother hen to take on.   Or if broody hormones made her insane.   I. Don’t. Know.   Sometimes, the only answer is that ‘some hens don’t make good mothers.’

Which is sad, because as a Buff Orpington, she made a wonderful broody.  She went quickly, stayed with the same next, was dedicated to her eggs.

But I don’t think I can risk giving her babies again.   I could let her hatch and I could raise, maybe, but she couldn’t be trusted not to ruin their feet again.  Could she?

As of the writing of this post, Rapunzel has gotten over the ‘baby thing’ entirely and gone back to Hen Things.  She is pissed that Pip is gone.  He was her chosen boyfriend and Luke does nothing for her.

I need to get more pictures of Grumpy, Cutie, the light Brahma and Rocky.  It’s harder in the brooder because they are quick and scared.

Chipmunk, Goth Chick and CW are all feathered out enough to start flying and they have been, as you can see from the pictures, coming out of the brooder to explore the world.  These three adventurers are bonding with myself and Little Dude because they sit out there and talk to us while we do morning chores.   Chipmunk is especially friendly.

By next week, they will be old enough to withstand 75-80 degree temps, so they should be outdoors, in their playpen, a little more often.  Unless it rains.   I have been bringing Pavelle’s chicks to say hello to them, in the hopes that they can be ‘cousins’ once I try to integrate.   Eggy is terrified of them.  That will be fun.

My Pet Chicken finally gave me an updated version of which breeds we have.

Chipmunk – still a Partridge Welsummer.   Also, accorrding to this site, a little pullet.  Because she still has her ‘mascara’ on her eyes.

CW – still a Columbian Wyandotte.  Gender unknown.

Rocky – still a barred Plymouth Rock.   Gender also unknown.

The little Brahma is still a little Brahma.   Little Dude calls him/her ‘Rap’ and I don’t know why.

Goth Chick, the all black one, is no longer (or never was) a Svart Hona.  Instead, according to the breeders, Goth Chick is one of My Pet Chicken’s ‘Mad Scientist’ chicks. They are calling them ‘customed crosses’ and did not tell me what when into the making of this chick.  Possibly Svart Hona, possible Cemani?  Possible God knows what?    Supposedly, if it is a hen, it could lay green eggs.

Cutie and Grumpy are both different flavors of Rocks.   One is a Silver Penciled Rock and the other is a light Barred Plymouth Rock…. so essentially, the same as Rocky only gray and white, not black and white.   They both have barring on the wings now.  I think they will look very similar, to be honest.

I’m going to end this post with some random pics from this week.  We had a deer visit the pasture, and half the chickens were terrified.  Pavelle chased it because it was too close to her babies.  It was amusing.

 
And that’s about it for this week. I am having surgery on Monday, the 26th, so if there aren’t updates for a while, this would be why. When I return, I promise pictures of the Brooder Babies, who should be more feathered out by then.
 

 

Eggy

Eggy, or the Egger Baby, is the last of Pavelle’s chicks.

He/she is the egg-child of Padme the Easter Egger and … well, I thought Pip, but now I’m not too sure about that.


So… what is it about Eggy that makes me suspect Pip might not be the father?

In short… color and personality.

Eggy here is a bright buff yellow, with only small EE cheeks.

 

So… mostly yellow chick with a yellow and black/brown momma.  Two potential fathers.

One rooster had an all yellow momma and a white papa?

The other rooster had a red momma and a white papa?

Going off looks alone, I’d have to guess Felix is Eggy’s baby daddy.

And then, there is personality.  Eggy is high strung, flighty, hard to catch, does not really relax in my hands like the other two do.

This describes Padme, yes, and could be an Easter Egger trait.  But it always describes Felix.  A lot.

Pip, not so much.  He didn’t like me pick up but when I did, he settled in because he trusted me.

Feather Butt trusts me.  Mini-Pav mostly trusts me.   Eggy is a frantic spaz.

So, based off personality, is this Pip’s chick? I don’t think so, but anything is possible.


Here is a recent shot of Momma and babies (and a fake egg that was in the nest with them).  They are 5 weeks old now and practically as big as she is!

They are also almost fully feathered out.


I believe that Pavelle will be pulling away from them soon.  Going back to doing Hen Things and not Momma things.  Today she seemed to be giving them space.  Still hanging with them – or allowing them to hang with her – but not really showing them things like she has in the past.  Letting them do their own thing.

Pavelle’s wee babies are growing up now.

Meet the Newcomers

We had new baby chicks hatched this week, from Monday – Wednesday, but I haven’t posted pictures yet. Why not? Because there was a mix up at My Pet Chicken in the labeling of the eggs and until this afternoon, we didn’t know what kind of chicks we actually had! And there are still two unaccounted-for chicks. The good people at My Pet Chicken have reached out to the breeder to discover what they might be… with help from pictures I provided of the chicks and their eggs.

Chipmunk, a Partridge Welsummer

Un-named Columbian Wyandotte

They don’t know what I am yet, but I’m cute!

Un-Named Light Brahma

Little Goth Chick, a Svart Hona

Rocky, the only Barred Rock. We were supposed to have four of them!

They don’t know what I am either, so I’m grumpy 😡

The proud adopted momma with her chicks 🐥

I have that lovely maternity box we made for the broodies out of a repurposed cabinet.  I put her in it.  She and the chicks spent one night in there and then Rapunzel decided to move them outside, into a corner on the floor.  After fighting with her for two days, I gave up and have decided that she’s going to raise them her way, whether I like it or not.

Pavelle also rejected the cat carrier, btw, and has  her babies sleeping in one of the laying boxes at night.

This kind of ‘immersion rearing’ kind of baffles me because Abby, Claire and Ashley ALL wanted to hide their chicks away from everyone, so they welcomed the special areas I made for them.

These two broody mommas?  Want nothing to do with it.

So instead… I put out a bigger feeder for the chick feeder, a second waterer and put some straw down so Rapunzel could make a nicer nest of her own design… and took this video of Pavelle’s little Feather Butt meeting his/her little ‘cousins’ for the first time.

Broody Hen versus Incubator

Broody Hen versus Incubator… which is better?

It’s an interesting question, isn’t it?  And if you’ve been following my blog for the last two years, you know that I love to give my broody hens eggs and take pictures of them with their babies.  

But this year, we did something different.  Little Dude wanted to hatch eggs for a 4-H Embryology project, so we ordered him some eggs from My Pet Chicken.  (I have ordered from them before, when Abby got her Easter Eggers.   I should do a blog post about both experiences sometime soon, for those who might want to check out their services. Or not.)  But for this project, he had to incubate them rather than our usual method of just giving the eggs to the broody hen.  

As luck would have it, however, we also had a hen go broody at the same time as we purchased the eggs.  Rapunzel, a one year old Buff Orpington hen.  She’s the bigger of my two Orps, and a little standoffish around me, but not mean or skittish.  

It was decided that we would give Rapunzel ½ the eggs and the Incubator ½, in an attempt to see which method yielded the better hatch.   And then, since supposedly, they were all hatching at the same time, we could give Rapunzel the ‘bator chicks, by sneaking them under her at night while she slept.  

I’m going to tell you… it’s been a LONG twenty-two days for us.  

Before I go into the details, let’s discuss the pros and cons of  both hens and incubators.  

Using A Hen to Hatch Your Eggs

Pros:  

  • The hen does ALL the work for you.    For real.  The mother hen uses her body to control temperature and humidity, sense when it’s too hot, too cold, and plucking out feathers to regulate humidity by skin-to-shell contact.   She can also tell when an egg won’t hatch, so you don’t really need to candle unless you’re curious.  
  • The hen then raises the chicks for you.   That’s a no-brainer.  Unless you get a hen who has no mothering instinct (it happens) or is violent to the chicks (it also happens), then your mother hen will raise the chick after hatches.  
  • Chicks raised by hens have better natural chicken instincts, integrate better with your existing flock, and tend to be smarter and healthier.  

Cons:

  • Risk to eggs.  With a hen, there is a risk of the egg getting broken, knocked out of a nest, stolen by a predator, or soiled (poop, etc) which could cause hatch problems.  
  • Hen abandons the nest.  Just like that.  She goes broody one day, you give you eggs, she sits on them a while… and then she hops off and won’t come back.  It happens sometimes.  You should have an incubator as a back-up plan.
  • Hen could kill the chicks.  This also happens sometimes.  A new mother or a mean hen could kill the babies after hatching.  Always have a brooder and heat lamp/heat source ready and waiting if your hen doesn’t accept her chicks.  
  • Predators.  Self explanatory.  The eggs, chicks and hen are all vulnerable to the same predators.  Especially if they are together.  

Using an Incubator to Hatch Your Eggs

Pros:

  • Freedom to hatch eggs whenever you want.  No need to wait for a hen to decide to go broody.  No sneaking fake eggs into the nest to trick one into it, either.
  • Freedom to hatch as many eggs as you want. Or  rather, however many your incubator can hold.  
  • Safety.  Egg is safe from predators and accidents which could cause breaking.  
  • You can watch every step of the hatching process.  Because, let’s face it, that’s the cool part.  Watching them pip, and break their way out of the shell.  
  • You can control the environmental factors.  Temperature and humidity are things that need to be maintained to have a good hatch.  Even the best broody hen could be off the nest too long or some cold weather could chill the air too much… or some very hot weather heat things up too much.  A lot could happen, but an incubator?  You control.

Cons:

  • You control the environmental factors.  Yes, it’s a pro and a con.  Because we, as humans, can screw up.  Get the temp too high or the humidity too low?  Bad hatch in the making.  
  • $$$$$  Incubators, especially good ones, cost money.  And if you don’t have an egg turner, you have to buy one yourself, which costs more – OR – turn the eggs twice a by hand.  Which means opening the incubator 2x a day until Lock Down and losing much needed  heat.  With a hen, she does the turning by instinct.  
  • You need a brooder to raise the chicks in when you are done.  So after you raise your 300 chicks in your 300+ egg ‘bator, you need a brooder big enough to house them for 6 weeks, unless your intention is to sell them off as day-olds.  
  • Unforeseeable Accidents Happen.  Like your incubator malfunctioning.  Or losing electricity due to a storm or equipment failure at the main power source.  Anything that lowers the temps in that incubator can kill your chicks.  

I tried to keep the pros and cons pretty much even here, and there may be some I missed.  Feel free to leave them in the comments.  I like healthy discussion.  

Now, let’s talk about Little Dude’s eggs… like I said, we ordered him eggs.  Ten of them, and then added two of our own to round off for twelve eggs.  We gave six to Rapunzel and gave six to the incubator.  

I spent three days prior to that testing the temperature of the incubator to make sure it was heating correctly and our thermometer was working accurately.  THEN I realized that we needed to gauge the humidity as well, so we purchased a digital thermometer that also did humidity.   

After the eggs were inside, I realized that keeping the humidity steady at the right temperature -(and different websites and different ‘experts’ say different things are to what humidity is right, btw.  I, however, was aiming for 45-50% humidity.  But that’s HARD to achieve when you don’t know what you’re doing, so there’s that) – was going to be the bane of my existence every day.   

Meanwhile, in the coop, other hens kept trying to lay their eggs in Rapunzel’s nest.  At least every other day, I found her with a couple new, non-fertile eggs.  

And then, the weather went from ‘high-70’s and 80’s with sun’ to mid-50’s and 60’s with rain’ and more rain and more rain.  And wind.  

The incubator eggs were pretty much unaffected, but because the rain was forcing my chicken-shit chickens into the coop all day, Rapunzel actually for forced off the nest several times between Day 14 and Day 18.  

On Day 17, however, disaster struck the Incubator in the form of a 6-hour long power outage.  I was smart not to open the incubator during that time, but the temp went from the required 99-degrees to 72 (room temp for that night).   I was on the verge and taking them out and putting them all under Rapunzel when the power came back on.  

I have been biting nails ever since.  Will they hatch, any of them?  ‘Punzel’s cold weather woes, the nest snatchers, and then an ill-timed power outage could have killed all of them.  

On Day 18, Little Dude and I candled them as per the 4-H project book’s instructions, and found 3 duds – two of Rapunzel’s and one from the ‘Bator.   We removed those, and waited for Lock Down to begin.  

Day 19… Rapunzel left her nest TWICE and I was worried that meant her ‘mother hen instincts’ were saying that the eggs were dead.   But then she rallied and hatched three of her four eggs on Day 20 and the last one yesterday on Day 21.  

The incubator wasn’t that efficient and those didn’t start pipping until late in the evening yesterday.  The first one officially hatched at 3 am on Day 22.   Two more, followed, and two…  well, at the time of writing this post had not done anything.  No pipping, no hatching.  (I’ll probably wind up tossing them out tonight.)

I’ll be honest, it was neat to watch them actually hatch – and yes, I checked every hour on the hour all night last night for pips and zips and babies.   BUT… I think I like my broody hens best.   There is nothing like knowing those eggs are in safe, confident hands.  Feathers, I mean.  

Rainy Tuesday Update

So, it’s raining today, with little patches of sunshine here and there.  The weekend was pretty much the same, but the week was pretty exciting around the barnyard and pasture.

First off… we’ve had visitors of the nasty variety.   Two fat brown woodchucks who think they own the place.   Dad shot one sneaking around the garden and caught the other in a trap he placed by their hole.

A couple of days later, we caught this opossum in the same trap.  Which means they are sharing the holes under the barn.

Dad wasn’t targeting the possum, because he read somewhere that they eat ticks. I don’t know if that’s true, but the DO eat eggs and young chicks, and can also kill adult chickens. I’m glad we are one possum less this week.

The neighbor’s white turkeys also paid a visit (which I didn’t get a picture of), but the chickens are getting used to them being around.

Ashley decided to go broody, and spent most of the weekend in Broody Jail.

Now, I know I have said in the past that I wasn’t going to use the Broody Breaker method anymore and just give my hens eggs.  But this hen is a special case.  This is Ashley – she who lost her babies 2 times in the fist week of their lives, kept leaving nest and getting too confused to go back to it, and then raised them to be neurotic weird freaks.  (example, Felix… and Perdie who STILL doesn’t trust me.)   So… no eggs for Ashley.

Besides which, Pavelle’s babies are two weeks old today and Rapunzel’s hatch/incubator babies are due to be hatching today.  Remember?  The 4-H project?   So yeah… I don’t need more babies just yet.  Especially not from a hen I don’t trust.

And while Ashley cooled out in Broody Jail, DH and Little Dude made another attempt to dry out the swampy areas in the middle of the chicken pasture.  Last year, DH made a pond.  This year, he’s spent days (and days and days) digging trenches trying to find where the underground springs run.

The chickens LOVE it because trenches mean mud, dirt, worms, bugs… stuff for them to do and see and EAT.  So they really love helping DH with his trench project.

And lastly what post would be complete without something about Pavelle and her babies?

This past week, Pavelle decided that she didn’t like the cat carrier as a nest, so she moved her babies out of it and up into one of the laying boxes.  They only sleep there at night, because the other thing they REALLY discovered this week was the great outdoors.  She takes them into the tunnels, the run and even into the barnyard.  They have not yet ventured into the greater chicken pasture, but still, the spend a good portion of the day outside, getting whatever yummies nature has to offer.   Whatever it is, they always have full crops when I see them, so it must be good.  🙂

This is Feather Butt, aka The One With The Feathered Feet. If you look closely…

… I *think* Feather Butt might also have a mini-crest. It’s not as pronounced as Pavelle’s was, but it sure looks like one to me, there on the top of his/her head.

 

Happy 2nd Week-aVersary, little Pavelle-Babies!

Broody Girls

It’s spring, and after a long and snowy winter, in which the hens spent more time in the coop than outdoors.  The weather is warming up, the grass is growing.  Flowers, weeds and bugs are everywhere.  Life is good if you’re a chicken.

A couple of weeks ago, several of my hens started exhibiting signs of being broody.   Hanging out in the nests longer, or later in the day.  Puffed up feathers and growling or yelling while they are in the nest.  Growling and yelling at other hens when they are off the nest.

This kind of thing happens every spring.  Hens thinking that maybe they want to go brood on some eggs and raise some babies.  Its a natural, hormonal instinct for chickens, albeit one that the hatcheries have tried to breed out of their birds because egg/meat production is more profitable than hens sitting on eggs.   But if you’re a back yard chicken owner, homesteader, or farmer who wants a self-sustaining flock, a broody hen might be what you’re looking for.

My first year as a chicken owner, I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know if I wanted broody hens.  Most the websites and blogs who talk about broodies talk about how to broody break them, because most people want eggs.   And I had Abby, who went broody less than two months after laying her first egg.   I broke her the first time, but decided when she did it again a month later, that it wasn’t worth trying to break her again, and just gave her eggs.

Watching Abby raise her chick – the rooster now known on this blog as Pip – was all it took.  I was bitten hard by the bug, and now wait with anticipation for the sign of broodies I can give eggs to.  There is something of wonder about watching a mother hen raise her Littles, seeing them explore the world at her side.  Learn and grow, and become a part of the flock.

I also like seeing the way genetics plays out in the 2nd Gen chicks.  I have a small group of ‘barnyard mix’ hens and two mix roosters who are all very unique in their looks and personalities.

So… anyway… I had five hens who started to act like they might go broody.  Penelope, Claire, Julia, Rapunzel and Pavelle.

Penelope an Julia really didn’t do anything.  They did that last year, too.  Walked around bucky for a week or so and then just stopped.   I don’t expect this year to be different.

Claire is STILL puffing up while she’s on a nest and sometimes while she is off it.  Given that she actually DID go broody last spring, I’m watching her closely.  She might.  And she was a good momma, so I would have no qualms about giving her eggs.

Rapunzel went HARD. Rapunzel is a Buff Orpington and Orpingtons are known to be goody broodies.  Rapunzel spent the least time ‘going through the motions’ and after a couple of “well, maybe” days, she hopped in a nest and committed to sitting on ceramic eggs.   She is very dedicated to them, and I’m going to let her stick with the ceramic eggs because I have special plan for her.  Little Dude is going to be doing an Embryology project for 4-H, which means we will be hatching eggs in an incubator and documenting every step of the way.   I have eggs coming from My Pet Chicken, because Little Dude wanted Barred Rocks.  So we have 4 Barred Rock eggs and 6 “assorted” eggs, which could be any breeds, coming later this week.  I’ve decided that I will be giving Rapunzel the chicks that hatch from those eggs.  Hopefully, she will accept them as her own.  Otherwise, I will have to put them in the brooder and raise them separate of the rest of the flock.

In the meantime, Pavelle is sitting on six eggs.  Three are hers, and three came from Padme, the little Easter Egger hen.  They are the smallest eggs I have, even though Pavelle is very impressive when she is puffed up and screaming at you, she is still a small hen.  Any of the babies she raised will be bigger than her at 6 weeks of age.

If anyone else goes broody in the between time – I’m looking at you, Claire – I will probably share the wealth, rather than give more eggs.  Claire, for example, could take on some of the 4-H babies, so Rapunzel, who is a new mother, doesn’t have to raise a potential ten babies on her own.  But that is a big IF that has a lot of variables.  IF Claire or anyone else goes broody in the next 3-4 weeks.  IF the incubation is successful and all the eggs hatch.  I’ve never used an incubator before and I’m borrowing one from DH’s aunt for the project.  So many variables.

In the last picture, you can see that Pavelle and ‘Punzel are in a prime location. Pavelle will steal eggs from the nests around her, and I constantly have to check underneath her for extras. Which is funny because one time, she had three extras and they were sticking out because she is so small they don’t all fit!

 


Pavelle

Rapunzel

Three White Hens

Because one of my readers asked for pictures of the Dalmies, I present to you…. three mostly white little hennies.

Perdie, who, as you see, got the most gray from her adventures in the ash pile.  I got pictures of her investigating the nests and it apparently upset her routine, so she went back outside.

Pongo, who is slightly bigger than Perdie in build and has a bit more fluff in the trunk.

Pongo is also the more friendly of the two.  Granted, Ashley raised them all to “hide because it’s safer” … but I can pet Pongo and Maxie.  Perdie doesn’t really want me near her at all.  She is very skittish, as is their hatch-brother, Felix.

Genetics… Pongo and Perdie are most likely Pip’s children, with Australorp mothers.  They act a lot like my Australorps, and also the Orpingtons.  Those two breeds are cousins of sorts, so I guess that makes sense.

They are the most dramatic when it comes to laying eggs.  Often, they will go into several nests in search of the right one, announcing their displeasure at the rejected ones and complaining if their preferred is empty – for a very long time before settling on one.  Or faking the Egg Song in an attempt to get someone out of the nest they want.

I’ve noticed the same behavior in the Orps and Lorps, where as my sexlinks (Abby and the Mystery Bin Girls) are very no-nonsense about it.

Maxie, on the other hand….

… she is a straight to business type of girl.  More like Abby and the Mystery Bin Girls who jump into any available nest, lay their eggs and move on.  Like I said, no-nonsense.

Given that Maxie is a mini-me of Dots, I’m guessing her egg donor was one of the sexlinks.  She’s pretty and friendly, a little smaller than her sisters.  Another indicator that she is a sexlink.  Possible straight-on second generation if we assume Dots as the father.

Maxie was one of the few who avoided the ash pile altogether, so she isn’t even the least bit gray.  Which makes her very smart, in my opinion.

Anyway… that’s the girls.  🙂