Friday, 29 April 2011
Photo: Indian Game cross broody hen on Sussex eggs
Mix a traditional heavy breed hen with an Indian Game cockerel, add a little warm weather and you have the perfect recipe for a broody hen and I have plenty.
No sooner do I remove one from the nestbox - to allow those who are still in lay to do so in peace rather than being harranged on entering the pop hole, then another takes up position in the still warm nest of straw in the hope of rearing a brood of her own.
Some I have managed to 'break' by placing them in a small run with fresh water and a little corn, still in view of the other hens but with nowhere to settle comfortably. Others have spent a few days wandering around clucking but have then decided motherhood may not be for them after all. A couple I have allowed to sit, they have successfully raised a brood and have now rejoined the flock.
Yesterday and today I set two more. Both Indian Game cross hens, very determined that motherhood is their role in life. One has been settled in the small ark and run with a clutch of a dozen Sussex eggs, the other in the poultry shed sitting tight on eleven Partridge Welsummer hens, hopefully the beginnings of a new future breeding line of Gold Duckwing Welsummers.
With still more broodies taking up residence in various nestboxes, I need to spend this weekend re arranging the pens. Moving more hens in with the young cockerel and freeing up the pen at home for the young chicks who are fast becoming 'growers'.
Sadly the slim chance of the goose raisng any goslings of her own has been taken away from her. This morning found her nest empty, all five of her carefully hidden eggs missing. The nest was undisturbed and although I can't be sure I do think the guilt rests on the shoulders of a boxer dog from a few houses away who is allowed to roam free, much to the fustration of a neighbouring sheep farmer.