One of the characteristics of hybrids is that they hardly ever go clucky or broody. I've had one who has gone clucky several times over the last three years, but that was easily cured by putting her in a pet rat cage given to me by a friend. (Rat not included!) With lots of light and air, and nothing to make a next with, she quickly gave up on the idea of raising babies.
However, this January not one, but three hens decided their internal clocks were ticking and all went broody the same day - and I couldn't fit three of them in the cage! I bought a dozen eggs off Trademe and put four under each hen. Twenty-one days, the Lifestyle Block book How to Car for Your Poultry said. Would they be right? They weren't right about hybrids not going broody!
Day 18 - 2 eggs broken by helpful children collecting the eggs for me. Sad, but I knew from the remains that something was happening inside the shells.
Day 21 - CHICKS!!! But one died, exhausted from its efforts getting out of its shell.
What's that little bit of white on the right? Egg shell!
So much easier when they were in, though.
For the first few days after hatching, I kept the chicks and mums in an old chook hutch designed for 2-3 chooks, but soon the mums were fighting and so I decided that they would have to take their chances in the main chook run.
The old 'hutch was so dilapidated, I had to encase it in bird netting to stop them getting out....
.... and to stop Spike from getting in.
So glad my new-borns weren't this active!
The chook mommas would have preferred that too.
Out in the big chook run.We weren't sure what decapitated number 8, but a couple of weeks later there was much squawking from the chook run and when we got down to the run, we could see just 2 chicks, and found 3 broken eggs as well, rolled away from the nest some hens had made in the grass. We assumed ferret, stoat, weasel or rat, and set a trap. Later, when the chooks had settled down, we discovered that only one chick was missing.
And there was dancing in the streets....
There is quite a bit of cover in the run, from flax, fig, apple, pear and avocado trees, also a bare area.
Looking like a hippy chicken run now!
The remaining 6 chicks are growing well - now I'm holding my breath to see if any are female, or if they will all turn out to be roosters. I hope not, although I think I might keep one rooster.