We have a small group of bantams close to the house and as we go around putting every one to bed, we often whistle close to their coop and receive in response a
It’s only when we get one of those rare warm sunny days you get to see the hens properly. I can’t believe that we have close on 150 birds now, spread over 14 coops! This is not counting the many chicks and growers coming along. As usual when closing up for the night, we count the birds in to make sure nobody is left outside.
The Hamburgh’s coop is definitely high on the counting list. The females come and go almost daily. At the moment we should have 5 females, we actually have 3. The missing 2 were a mystery until very recently, when we counted 5 one morning, out and about with Trevor their cockerel. After a while one female broke away from Trevor and the other girls and made her way to the nearby Brahma coop. She started preening herself close to the coop. Right I thought, I bet she’s got eggs somewhere that she’s sitting on. Preening finished, she slowly made her way to the other side of the Brahma coop and disappeared underneath the coop itself. It wasn’t long before I discovered where she had hid herself.
Right underneath the coop where the 2 missing females. Between them, they were sitting on 20 eggs! It’s now been whittled down to 17, as they plainly couldn’t sit properly on that number of eggs. The 3 you can see in front of one of the Hamburghs were rejected. They were stone cold, so I chucked them. The 17 remaining eggs seem to be covered well.
For nearly a solid month now, poor Titch, a Silver Laced Wyandotte bantam hybrid, has been broody. Every day there she is on the floor of the coop (or in a nest box, just for a change) with an egg she has managed to pinch from someone else, and every morning I come along and remove it along with all the other eggs laid that morning.
I don’t have to tell you what a spoilsport I feel when I remove that egg each morning. It does not lie comfortable with my conscience at all and the longer it goes on the worst I feel about it! I’m almost at the point of giving in, but finding a way for her to find relief from her hormone charged state is not going to be easy. Poor girl, she is normally no trouble at all, having unquestionably ‘fitted in’ with a collection of Black Rock and Maran girls, all much bigger than her, I do feel I owe her one. Unfinished business I guess, watch this space.
Well, little Titch has now finally got what she wanted, a secret place of her own to bring up some youngsters. We finally found a way to satisfy her raging hormones to be a mum. She has been moved from the noisy and often bitchy coop to the garage, in a wooden brooder on her own in peace and quite, with only radio 3 or radio 4 for company. She is now sitting on 5 Hamburgh eggs (courtesy of Ebay). We desperately wanted some new Hamburgh blood and despite trawling Ebay for some weeks without success, we suddenly found a lone advert for Silver Pencilled Hamburghs and couldn’t resist the opportunity. This solved two problems in one really. I think you will agree Titch looks very contented now. Will report on the hatch at a later date.
Titch hatched the eggs just fine but unfortunately had to be removed a couple of days later. She largely ignored the chicks after hatching and not long after she then started to peck them. The last straw came when we found a dead chick, lying in the drinker. The chick looked as if it had drowned, but drowning in this type of drinker is just about impossible. Our guess was that Titch in her confused state had been digging furiously and had managed to kick the poor chick hard against the drinker. Obviously her broody condition which had lasted for weeks before being given these eggs to hatch had gone on too long. We were glad in a way, she had been in this condition for so long that her health was beginning to suffer. She looked tired and pale and clearly wanted to go outside instead, we reluctantly removed her and put her back with her flock.
Fortunately, waiting in the wings was Solitaire, a Belgium bantam, who has acted as a surrogate mother on previous occasions. We introduced her to the 5 Hamburgh chicks and immediately she started to cluck and make all the right sounds. In a matter of minutes all 5 were securely underneath Solitaire and a more contented hen you couldn’t imagine.