Contrary to popular belief, hens can go broody even in the heart of winter. They will also successfully keep their babies warm better than any heat lamp. The babies thrive and become active foragers very early on. There is nothing quite like watching a hen brood her babies.
This year, I had a Buff Orpington go broody for quite a while. Twice I let her set on eggs but moving her from the nest box caused her not to settle and attempts were failed. Still she was insistent she was ready to be a Mom.
I hatched out some chicks for this Spring and decided to allow her to adopt them of she was willing. I took 2 out to start, in the hopes she would accept them.
Broody's will often accept brand new hatchlings if they are no more than a couple days old. It is best to watch for soft clucking. Panic and pecking will often lead to the chicks death. Be prepared to remove the chicks if aggression occurs.
In Georgia's case, she readily accepted the first two. I left them be in the nest box for the day checking on the often. By the evening she had pulled the hay all up around her in order to have privacy. By then I knew she was ready so I moved her to a secure brooding spot. She took to it instantly with no arguing and I gave her 3 more peeps.
She is now the proud Mama of 5 little ones.
As I was reading about winter prep for the ducks a couple months back, I came across an article that talked about the importance of offering your ducks greenery, even in the winter, as an important aspect of their diets.
I hadn't thought more about it until we got our first snow of the season. While doing barn chores and checking on everyone, I spotted the ducks eating from the only green spot in the yard as if they hadn't eaten in days. This promptly reminded me to begin adding alfalfa to their layer ration.
So one of my projects this year is breeding our Cuckoo Maran Roo to our Ameuracana hens. Well, Friday we hatched out our first Olive Egger. Praying it's a pullet so we can begin seeing Olive colored eggs in our egg basket by this Spring!
So in case anyone was wondering, this is what a frozen duck egg (or any egg for that matter) looks like.
Now, ducks are pretty smart and will actually bury their eggs in bedding to hide them from predators. When properly laid in their duck house, there hasn't been a problem, even with sub zero temps. However, one of our geniuses decided to lay her egg on top of her frozen pond.
Was a little nervous using the new ( and much bigger) Brinsea OvaEasy compared to my Mini Advance but again sooo happy! Everything went well and I love the hatch tray!
I don't plan to use breeder pens during the cooler months and will just be hatching mixed batches. I love all the surprises! Some will be purebreds and others will be hybrids or crosses.
My favorites so far are these twin little Silkie x D'Uccle crosses that hatched from Little Bits eggs. Guess Jack Frost, our White Silkie Roo, hasn't been so faithful to Snowy! The peeps are gorgeous with a silvery coloring, black skin, and 5 toes.
Little Bit has officially been broody for 2 weeks. I have hesitated moving her because I have chicks in the incubator. If all goes well with our hatch this Sunday, I will attempt to let her brood some of her offspring with Little Roo.
I am pretty sure our chickens hate the time change as much as I do. Fortunately, we are blessed with electricity and I hooked up a timer switch last fall to keep them laying throughout fall and winter.
Have the lights come on earlier in the morning but let the sun go down naturally without any artificial lighting added. Chickens don't see well in the dark and it's scary to be in mid movement and have the lights go black.
So I notice one of our Magpie ducks wasn't keeping up with the others and seemed to be in pain. Upon further inspection she had a pretty bad looking case of Bumblefoot. We cut it out, gave her antibiotics, and wrapped it up (so not as easy as a chicken foot). She's in the ISO pen with a friend until it heals and no pond. She's not happy!
After doing some research ( guess I shouldn't have jumped the gun-lesson learned) many forums say not to cut the absess but to put meds on it and leave it alone. Hoping we did the right thing and I don't make it worse.
So...moral for today. Never assume that you've "got this" because you've been there, done that with chickens.
Day Old mixed batch chicks.
Get a great deal on chicks when you purchase a mixed batch of new hatchlings. These can include a combination of Buff Brahma's, Buff Orpingtons, Cuckoo Marans, Easter Eggers, Olive Eggers, White Silkies, Mille De Fleur D'Uccles, and/or cross breedings of any of the above as well as Barred Rocks, Welsummers, Barnavelders, Salmon Favorelle, and Silver Spangled German Spitz's.
5 for $15 or 10 for $20
I am a 2nd grade teacher by day and a full time farm wife by evening (and weekends and the summer!).
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