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Friday, July 23, 2010


For the first time, we have a setting hen. I had not planned to get any chicks from these hens for a couple reasons. First, I butchered all of the roosters that we got with them. Second, Rhode Island Reds are not generally broody. They have been bred to produce lots of eggs, then forget about them. We have Reds that are more of a heritage breed (as opposed to Production Reds who have even less of their maternal instincts in tact). So I wasn't too surprised when a few (out of 19) of them starting sitting in their nest boxes all day.

The problem is that when they go broody, they don't lay eggs. One hen in particular was very persistent and since we recently got a few roosters from a friend, I decided to let her give it a try.
We took all the eggs that were laid that day and stuck them under her until she couldn't cover any more. I might have let some other hens try, but a couple days after starting with this hen, our last rooster got picked off by a fox. All we had left was pile of feathers. Hopefully he will leave us a legacy. The Lord killeth and the Lord giveth life (1 Kings 2:6).

It has been an interesting couple of weeks. I have already learned a lot about hatching eggs. Unfortunately I tired to leave her in the coop with the other chickens. That was a big mistake. Other hens still tried to squeeze in there and lay more eggs in that nest. Finally a couple eggs got broken. One was unfertalized, so no big deal. But for the other I could see an embryo in there. Then of course the broken eggs made a mess all over the other eggs. As I was cleaning them I broke another one that had an embryo. So we are two down already.

Last week I candled eggs for the first time. To make a long story short, I think we have four or five good eggs. There were three I wasn't sure about, so I left them under the hen. Then a couple others were unfertilized so I pulled them out. We now have about nine days to go. It will be pretty exciting to see what we get!