We were pretty surprised when one of our seven month old hens decided she was broody, but we’re drowning in eggs, so we thought we would let her hatch a clutch. She had 14-ish eggs and 6 of them hatched (from what I’ve read, 50% hatch rate is about average). We lost one to a small black snake (the snake was rehomed…black snakes are useful…away from the chickens), but otherwise they are doing well so far. We have one Rhode Island red (cross?), one buff Orpington (cross?), and three black chicks. I don’t remember how to tell which is which and most of them (if not all) are crosses.
The hen’s been taking them out of the house since about the second day, which surprised me, since Buffy kept hers in for over a week. They are keeping up with her pretty well. We tossed the babies up into the house for her the first couple of days, but they’ve figured out (somehow) how to get in on their own now.
One of the nice things about this hen (who has no name) is that she’s pretty unconcerned about us messing with her babies, especially compared to Buffy (last year’s mom). It made helping her get her babies into the house a lot easier. Tony also said that as long as the dogs aren’t being too rambunctious, she isn’t bothered by them being around.
In other news, the three roosters were overwhelming the hens, so we finally took care of processing the two we decided not to keep (the buff Orpington and the Rhode Island red). We were surprised at how large they were, but definitely not disappointed. Between their size, the practice I got last year (I spent a day processing chickens on a farm about an hour from home last year), and only doing two, it felt more worthwhile than the days we spent last year culling our flock.