Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Further Adventures with Chickens

One afternoon a few weeks ago, I went down to the Chook Pen to lock the girls up safely for the night. Our black chook,  'In The Box' was no where to be found. The girls had been hanging around the dog pen for the previous few days, eating the left over dog food and scratching under the fruit trees in there. Furious, I stomped over to the dog pen, ready to kill Pippi, our Kelpie cross Border Collie. I was certain she must of killed In The Box. To my surprise, there were no feathers, nor a carcass. I immediately calmed down, said a mental apology to the dog for jumping to conclusions and had a search around the house yard for either a chook, a carcass or a very fat snake. Nothing.

For the next week, In The Box was not seen and I accepted that she had been eaten by something during her daylight free ranging. 

Temporary brooder box, awaiting to be adopted out to their new mumma
Then on the following weekend, I saw her run across the front yard and into the Chook Pen for a drink and some feed. I kept an eye on her and discovered where she had disappeared to.... Yes, In The Box was broody and had hidden away a clutch of eggs below a retaining wall. 

Unfortunately, we have no rooster so In The Box was wasting her time, sitting on ticking timebombs, which would eventually go rotten and explode in an unworldly stench. I did some googling and decided the best thing would be to buy her some fresh chicks to stick under her. 

A little bit of outside time, prior to being adopted
At night I moved her and four of her unhatchable eggs into a small pen into the garden. I left her there for the day to get used to her new nest. The next night, I took the chickens down and slipped them under her one by one, removing all but one of the eggs. I probably could have left all the eggs or taken all of the eggs, I doubt chooks can do maths, but better safe than sorry. 

I then spent a restless night hoping In The Box didnt peck the chicks to death. The next morning I went out, expecting to see three tiny corpses and one angry chook. To my delight, In The Box took to her new brood with love. Two of the chicks were under her and the third was sitting on her back. I left them to be, throwing out the last egg the following night.

In The Box with her adopted brood
In The Box has turned out to be an excellent mother. When I was certain she would look after her chicks, I return the four of them to the Chook Pen with the other Hens. In The Box has continued to be an excellent mother and her chicks are gowing fast. I can't yet tell whether any of them will be roosters. If they are, I'll be keeping one and the others will be destined for the stock pot or as dog food.

Two of my other hens- Chicken Dance and Fly also went broody and I purchased a dozen fertilised eggs to split between them. I'm now playing the waiting game to see if any of the eggs will hatch.