She’s done it! Sophie, our very first hen to sit on fertilised eggs, has managed a hatch and is now a proud mum. Here she is:
You’ll note here Sophie is hovering over one chick. There’s a reason you only see one chick in the picture; after sitting on a nest of six eggs, Sophie hatched just one chick successfully. Having never hatched eggs with a broody hen before, we decided this first time to let nature run its course and allow Sophie to do whatever she wished – figuring nature would probably do a better job without novices like us interfering. We let her sit on whichever eggs she chose and basically left it up to her to control the whole process. The only thing we did was to provide her with fresh food and water and a few days before the hatch relocated the other chickens and Minty the rooster.
Honestly, we weren’t entirely sure when her chicks were due to hatch (despite knowing chicken eggs take 21 days to incubate) as the first few days Sophie ‘sat’ on eggs she was up and down quite a lot, wandering around the yard. It was difficult to determine when exactly the sitting period began. We were very surprised one evening to see her off the nest, sitting on the ground, with only a broken egg shell left behind. As she didn’t move a lot I worried she was ill and had abandoned the eggs. When the kids and I checked on her the next day we were very surprised to see one little black chick running around her feet. All I can think is that after the first chick hatched Sophie followed it off the nest and abandoned the other eggs, letting them go cold. I’ve read that a chicken will stay on eggs for 24 – 48 hours after the first chick hatches and then after that time will abandon any unhatched eggs and take the hatched chicks for their first walk.
We would’ve put the remaining eggs in the incubator but it was already full of other eggs we’d been incubating for a few days. Hubby gave the unhatched eggs a day or so in case they hatched but no such luck. He checked the eggs before discarding them and all of the eggs except one contained a developed chick, which was a little sad. But I guess at least we know the problem doesn’t lie with our rooster. I’m guessing the issue is that the eggs were not all the same age (the other hens most likely continued laying eggs around Sophie and she subsequently added to her clutch meaning that the eggs were at different stages of development i.e. not all of the chicks were developed enough to be ready to hatch within 24-48hrs of the first egg hatching).
After this experience, I think next time one of our hens goes broody we will step in and collect eggs, adding all the eggs at the same time so they all hatch at once. Sophie was quite diligent in getting off the nest each day but if the next hen isn’t we’ll get her up to make she eats and drinks.
And now for the good news….
Introducing Sophie’s Chick – Speckles
Sophie may have only hatched one chick but it’s pretty adorable, all black and fluffy and energetic. The kids have named it Speckles and so far it looks identical to how Sophie looked when she was a chick…well, all except one little detail….See if you can spot it:
Look very closely at Speckles’ outer leg…See those teeny tiny white fluffy things lined down her leg – feathers! Our fluffy-footed rooster, Minty, has passed on his fluffy feet to Speckles. The kids are over the moon. We’re betting this one will be a rooster too (apparently first year layers and roosters yield a greater percentage of roosters than hens) but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
We’re still waiting to see if the eggs in the incubator hatch (the automatic turning mechanism didn’t seem to be working properly the first five days). We’re up to Day 19 today so in two days time (Day 21, hatching day) we’ll have a better idea. Wish us luck.
Have a great week,