The ducks and kangaroos are not the only ones having babies at Edgefield at the moment. There has been rather a lot of hatching going on in the chicken department and mostly NOT in the hen house. Perhaps I can blame my cluckiness on my friend Rachel and her family who recently moved in next door with their newborn baby daughter, Grace, from whom I have been stealing cuddles whenever I can. Oh there’s nothing quite like the smell and softness of a newborn baby’s downy head!
Anyway, I thought I’d give incubating a try with an incubator I borrowed off a friend. The first batch I tried were some of my own eggs, fertilised by my spunky rooster Dirk Diggler, who is getting a little long in the tooth and whose je nais se quoi may not quite have been what it once was. Only one egg hatched from a batch of 10. Two others were fully formed, the rest not at all. The likely scenario is that I drowned the two by continuing to turn the eggs past Day 18, which I now know not to do. Live and learn.
Then a mummy chook went broody so I stuck a clutch under her. Of that lot, only one hatched. Hmmm. So then my friend, Mel, gave me a dozen purebred Australorp eggs, which I got into the incubator a bit late. But we have had better success with that lot and hatched five chicks on 22 and 23 October (3-4 days ago). I managed to stick the first single incubator-hatched chick under clucky mummy hen who immediately took the chick under her wing. I tried to do the same yesterday with the five new little chicks and although she didn’t attack them exactly, she didn’t mother them either. So after leaving them huddled in her pen for about an hour, I rescued them and stuck them back under the heat lamp in the brooder box in the laundry. Looks like I’m going to have to raise these ones NOT as nature intended. Bummer.