By: Marieanne Coursen, Agricultural Interpreter
Here is a May update from Marieanne - stay tuned for a more recent update and pictures of the chicks next week!
It is May 15th and our Mama Hen is doing great. Eleven eggs were set under her on April 27th in the broody coop. Every day we let her out late in the morning. I always have to pick her up off the nest and push her out the door of the coop.
Once she is out, she has a regular routine. She scratches in the garden eating worms and insects, clucking constantly and puffing out her feathers like a typical broody hen. At some point she squawks and runs for a short distance, and she spends quite a bit of time dusting in the dirt.Then she eats the food I have put out for her and drinks some water. I feed her a mix of whole grains – corn, barley, oats and wheat. I have looked in several poultry books from the 19th century and they all recommend feeding only whole grains to a broody hen although they don’t explain why. My guess is that she shouldn’t eat a diet that is formulated for laying hens since she isn’t laying eggs at this time; and I also think the whole grains go through her system more slowly which is probably a good thing since she only gets to eat once a day. Because she is eating whole grains it is particularly important that she has access to grit which is readily available in the garden in the form of small stones.
The first few days I had to herd her back into the coop after a half hour but soon she started going back on her own. As we get closer to hatch date she seems to stay out for a shorter time and she always goes back more quickly on cool day.
We found one of the eggs broken one day. I think it probably cracked when the hen was picked up to go out for the day because I heard the sound of 2 eggs clacking together and 2 days later we found the broken egg pushed out of the nest. So there are 10 eggs left that will hopefully hatch on Wednesday, May 18th. In other poultry news, our turkey hen has laid 9 eggs so far in the barrel we placed on its side in the turkey house. Another chicken hen is setting on 5 duck eggs. And we have added 8 goslings to the farm. They hatched on April 18th and arrived by mail on April 20th. With all this activity on the farm, I am finding it harder and harder to get away to the computer so we may have to rely on Facebook postings for a while for the new news from the farm or better yet, come see us for real and check out the latest farm happenings!