The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Brood hen success

White Cochin hen brooding eggsWhen we were in South Carolina last month, Daddy gave me eleven fertilized Rhode Island Red eggs to try to hatch out.  I brought them home and started preheating the incubator, only to discover that the cheap brand we'd gotten at the feed store only works if you keep your room temperature very constant.  So I made a spur of the moment decision and popped the eggs in the brood coop with our White Cochin instead.

Rhode Island Red chickRegular readers may remember that we tried a similar experiment last fall, with the result that our hen killed the only chick that hatched.  But I wanted to give our hen another chance before putting her on the dinner table, figuring she may have killed her first batch of chicks because their color made it obvious that they weren't her own.  Rhode Island Red chicks are pale, so color wouldn't be an issue this time around.

I added a lip to her culvert nest so that none of the eggs would roll out, then I threw the hen in the coop.  I'd heard her make a broody moan the week before, but she wasn't really broody yet and it took her most of the week to decide the eggs were worth sitting on.  By then, I figured our chances of getting a hatch were close to nill, so I didn't even post about it, but I left the hen to sit on the nest since I figured I might as well get the broodiness out of her system.

Chick and mother by an automatic chicken watererSaturday morning, I dropped by to toss in a bit of feed...and saw a fluffy chick running in and out of the Cochin's feathers!  I moved the automatic chicken waterer into the culvert nest at chick eye level and tossed in some chick feed, and the peep immediately followed the mother's lead, eating and drinking.  It seems quite healthy, and the Cochin has clearly accepted it, so the only question now is...will it be a new layer or a broiler?  And have I finally learned enough that next time we'll get a good hatch rate?

I'll be posting a review of the incubator over on our chicken blog once I get a chance to write it up, so stay tuned!

This post is part of our Farm Experiments lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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