Broody Ashley

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so this is Ashe, all grown up into the very lovely Ashley. My Girl insists we call her Ashley, since she isn’t a boy, but I still call her Ashe.

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.

 

Ashe’s eggs.  I do NOT know which hens are responsible for these eggs.  Given the color and size, I am hoping a good sampling of all my breeds.  At least as far as the mommas are concerned. 

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broody Watch 12.2 – the final Abby edition

 

ETA: We lost him, after all.  😦

Well, it happened, against ALL the odds.  The final EE egg hatched!

the last Easter Egger is born

At bedtime, I noticed the first pip.  I was overjoyed because I didn’t think it would hatch.  It was way later than every one else.  Also, one of those two EE eggs was the one that candled fully dark.  I couldn’t see anything and marked it with a ? to watch.  When the first EE pipped, I thought for sure that the remaining one was the dark one.

I suppose one of them was the dark one, but they both hatched anyway.  Thus proving I have a lot to learn about candling eggs.

The total hatched was eight chicks: 3 chocolate Orpingtons, 2 Easter Eggers, 2 Sulmtalers, and 1 Pavlovskaya.

This morning after the last baby hatched, Little Dude and I moved momma and babies to the maternity suite.  They will have more room there, plus privacy and relative safety.

the little Chocolates explore their new home while momma sits in the newest brother

It’s going to harder to get pictures of them all while we’re waiting for the little EE to fluff out.  The maternity suite allows for maximum privacy, even from me.  Really I should have rethought that. ☺️

Ah well!  The hens seem to like it and that’s all that matters.

Broody Watch 12.1 – Baby Picspam

Well, all but one of the eight remaining eggs has hatched.  It might just be time for some picspam of Abby and her Wee Ones.  🙂

And while I was there taking the last pictures, Little Dude and I got to witness the last baby Sulmtaler being born.  🙂

Still waiting on the last Easter Egg to pip and hatch. I hope it does, because that would be awesome to have 2 of them. 🙂

Broody Watch 11.2 – The First Baby

Abby’s first baby of this hatch!  Came out of an Easter Egger egg.  I’ve never seen one still wet before.  

Is it supposed to be so dark?  

I’m still wet behind the ears, can I go back to momma now?

The choc orpington that was pipped this morning still hasn’t hatched yet but it probably won’t been too far behind this one.  

There are four others pipped now that I could see.  Not sure what they are, I only scanned briefly with my eyes while watching this one snuggle up to Momma.  

I wonder how many we will have tomorrow morning? 

Broody Watch 11- First Pips 

Finally! The part where I get to share the Good News!!!!!!  We have our first pips!!!!!

Easter Egger on right.
Chocolate Orpington (also on right)

The babies are coming!!  The babies are coming!!!

LOL I have no life.

 (Actually,I have a very busy life right now. I had plans to go see my in-laws today and drop off eggs to them (with other things), take my son to the park, pick up a small bag of chick starter for these little ones, we have company coming on Friday, and I have about 3 weeks to help my son get ready for his first 4-H Roud Up.)

I spent some time this morning reshaping the nests in the maternity suite so Abby had fresh straw and a clean area.  Claire really timed her abandonment of her Littles perfectly so Abby could use either side of the maternity suite.

 

Broody 10 – Day 18 

I keep waiting for the story of this broody adventure to be about cute fluffy chicks.  Instead, I keep getting one disaster after another.

I found this when I went to take Abby off her next for the morning.  Today is Day 18. Tomorrow would be ‘lock down’ and I wanted her to have one more day of sunlight and a chance to stretch her legs.

So this? Is not good?

I don’t really know what happened, but I can guess.  Abby didn’t leave the next at all yesterday, but when I was checking eggs in the afternoon, there was a new pullet in the bed next to her. They don’t usually choose the beds next to Abby because Abby likes the higher boxes. Everyone else chooses the lower beds, but I found Lola right next to Abby in the corner box.

If Lola started on the other side and checked other beds, she could havewalked over top of Abby and caused something like this.

Now… to the Good… the baby is still alive in there. I can see the membrane rising and falling. That’s breathing and movement.  I put it back under Abby.  I don’t really know what else to do.

I don’t have an incubator, and I don’t have the money to run out and buy one.  Even if I did, I don’t have time to set up, learn not to screw it up, and put the egg in.  So it’s back under momma for the time being.

I did ask the lady who sold me the eggs what she thought I should do.  I could attempt to help it hatch the rest of the way, or leave it go and see what comes naturally.

Of course, today I’m going to be out of town and not home most of the day.  So whatever advice she has for me will be left unfollowed until later on today or tomorrow.

Today is Day 18.  “Lock down” is tomorrow.  I expect to see chicks Wednesday at the latest,until something else happens.

I’m praying nothing else happens.  I already feel so bad.  :-/

And now… for the cute…

Since I couldn’t take her off the nest for this morning, I decided to give her food and water in bed.  Chickens are so cute when they drink.  🙂

Broody Watch 5.0

Well, as of this morning, there are three babies hiding under Claire’s considerable red fluff.

The last couple of days, Claire has been a real sweetheart compared to how she normally is.  A part of the ‘broody trance’ stage, she let me pet her, feed her by hand, and lift her up to look at the eggs/babies.   Now that more of them have hatched, the broody trance is giving way to ‘Mama Mode’ and Claire’s true personality is asserting itself.

That is to say, I got bit 5 times trying to get these pictures and video.

Ouch!

There is one last egg, the paler one I mentioned was cracked already.  It’ still cracked, but the crack is bigger.

Claire shows no signed of giving up on it yet, and keeps tucking it underneath her like she’s expecting something.

As tomorrow is Day 21 for that egg and one of the other (already hatched) chicks, I’ll wait and see what she does next.  They have that saying about it – Mama Knows – so if Claire is still waiting for a chick, maybe I should, too?

Then again, it’ been cracked since Monday and no signs of anything coming out, movement, or cheeping.

But I’ll let Claire make that call.  If she abandons the egg in favor of caring for the Wee Ones, I’ll know.

Broody Watch 4.0

Babies!!!! 


Went into the coop for lock up and and found that my flock had grown by two. 

The little red-head on the right is the chick I posted the video of in update 3.5.  He/she is dry and fluffy. 

The blondie on the left is still partially damp. 

Of the three eggs still under Claire, the light colored one has a crack in it.  It had that crack a day ago, though, so I don’t think it’s hatching.   The  brown one on the very left has a pip.  The brown one in the middle wasn’t there earlier, and is NOT one of Claire’s eggs.  So I removed it.  

But yay!!! Two babies!!!! And maybe another by tomorrow! 

Broody Watch #3.5

In Which A New Window Is Opened and New Life Peers Outside

I went down to check for eggs and to say hello to Claire and I thought I hear the soft sounds of a baby chick. So I took a chance and lifted Claire ever so slightly…

… and got to see the first of her babies tentatively gaining access to the world.

I guess it’s a good thing I made preparations for that maternity ward already, huh?

I promise I’ll check back in tomorrow and let you all know how it goes.

 

Broody Watch #3


Welcome to Claire’s 3rd and final week of being broody.  Over the weekend, we entered the ‘lockdown’ phase, as it’s called when you’re incubating eggs to hatch.  This is the last three days (or starting on day 18) of the hatching process when the chicks need to maintain a certain temp and humidity in order to hatch.  

On an incubator, there are dials and gauges to tell that.

How a hen knows, I can’t tell you but Claire didn’t leave the nest at all yesterday and spent most of it in a glassy-eyed fog.

The Broody Trance, finally.  

I fed her eggs yesterday at dinner time and likely will today, as well.  

She’s not as thin as Abby was but I’ll still give her some.  

Tomorrow is the first potential hatch day.  

In prep for Claire and her babies to join the flock, I did a Thing. 

Those who remember back to November when Pip was hatched, I put Abby and baby Pip in huge box, shoved under the laying beds.  One half of the box was nest and the other was for food and water. 

It worked for them but the box was in the way and after they stopped using it, Abby would sit in the middle of the coop with Pip and just expected everyone to stay out of their way. 

This would be why 1- Pip thinks the coop is His Domain and 2- all the older hens still find Pip vaguely annoying.  

Well, I realized today that in roughly 48-hours I will have the same situation, on with 1-4 chicks, instead of one.   AND on top of that, in a handful of weeks, I will integrating the Littles into the big flock. 

Does anyone else see a recipe for potential disaster? 

I do.  

So I did A Thing.  

I cleaned out (a little) the underneath area, where the chickens don’t really go and haven’t used since the were babies, stapled chicken wire in two sides with an opening in the middle, and creating a … maternity ward?  Nursery? 

the left side
the right side
the opening in the middle

If Claire accepts it, this unused space can be a place for a her baby nest, offer shelter and a safe place for her wee Littles to play … and it won’t take up any room in the coop that the older hens actually care about.  

Potential win-win. 

Setting it up now means the older chickens have a couple of days to get used to it being there.