After a very wet and windy winter, it’s such a treat to have a week or two of calm, sunny weather. Looking around you can see the hens really enoying this break. Dust bathing is now back in fashion, as is scratching the gravel off the paths around the runs, aaargh! Our focus now shifts to hatching and the Japanese bantams.
Our hatching season is in full swing now. The first lot out of the blocks was again the Japanese bantams. They go broody at the drop of a hat. The first sign of sunny, warmer weather they’re away. It starts with one broody and one egg. A couple of days later the single broody has managed to gather 4 or 5 eggs. Later on still, she will be sitting on around 8 to 10 eggs. Some laid my her and some laid by fellow flock members, which she ‘beaks’ underneath her. After about 10 days, she is joined by another female who thinks it’s a good idea to be broody together. Two weeks plus and another flock member, who’s hormones are just getting too much, joins in too. Now we have nearly a dozen eggs being sat on by 3 broodies.
After 21 days cheeping could be heard underneath the mini pile of bantams. Slowly but surely the hatching continued and by day 23 all had hatched. Or had they?? There was one very determined hen in the top nestbox, putting my hand underneath her I could feel a single egg left from the original batch. I should add I marked all the eggs with a pencil to distinguish them from eggs being laid by other hens in the flock. I thought this couldn’t hatch as the others hatched some 4/5 days previously. I picked the egg up and was walking away with the intention of throwing it away, but wait, I kept hearing a high pitched sound, putting the egg to my ear I could hear cheeping coming through loud and clear. So I put the egg back underneath mum and apologised for being so hasty. Later that day it hatched, a minor miracle.
Now all these chicks were hatched in a nestbox which was at least 3 feet from the coop floor, yet they all managed to arrive on the floor of the coop with their mothers to feed and water themselves without incident. They stayed in the coop for several days. Luckily, the weather was set fair, so when they did venture outside it wasn’t the shock it could have been. Seeing all 7 chicks with their 3 mums was a delightful spectacle, they soon learned to master the drinker by copying one of their mums. The other adults in the flock (around 10) kept their distance in the main, if they did stray a little too close the mothers soon told them were to go.
The Japanese bantam must be one of the best mothers, a very tight sitter, deeply devoted and best of all, very co-operative. Like most bantams the males get into fights in the breeding season, but they sort their differences out swiftly and peace returns.