Monday, July 8, 2013

Final tally

In the end, Whitney successfully hatched just the two chicks. Out of 20-25 eggs altogether, give or take. On the last day of her incarceration incubation period (the 22nd day after I shut her in to stop the ongoing egg shuffle), she still had six unhatched eggs. Over the three weeks she had gradually abandoned the rest and I had removed them.

There was one interesting fact about the six remaining eggs. Whitney herself is a brown egg layer. Five of the final six eggs were brown. Big deal, right? Well, actually she started out with about twice as many blue/green eggs as brown ones. To end up with a five to one ratio the other direction means she must have been systematically rejecting the blue and green eggs and keeping only the brown ones. Did she 'know' that the blue and green ones weren't hers? Seems so. Or maybe she just thought the brown ones were prettier. ;)

I think the rejection happened during turning. The nest box was big enough that occasionally, when she turned the eggs, she actually moved the whole clutch over six inches or so. Gradually, as she repeated this, the blue eggs would get left behind, cold and untouched at the fringes. Last week I started throwing out the abandoned ones. Finally, she was down to just brown ones.

Even so, by the end, her desire to sit was gone. She was interested only in the two live chicks. Starting around day 18 or 19, she clearly wanted to be up and out with the new chicks. I kept her barricaded in the nest area the full three weeks just to be sure. No more luck. So on day 22, I threw out the last of the eggs and there ended our first home hatching experience.

Whitney's devoted to the two she hatched -- even the one from the green egg. :)  She clucks and calls and teaches them to hunt for food. Good job Whitney.


  1. I love the sound a hen makes to her chicks. And what adorable chicks! I'd like to just home-hatch chicks, but my best broody hen is getting dotty in her old age and can't be relied upon to follow-through.

  2. Great shot! And interesting how she sorted eggs. Hmmm...