Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Poultry Progress at the Farm

By: Meredith Doubleday, Public Programs Intern

Since Marieanne’s last broody coop update, we have had a lot of poultry excitement. Most of our eggs have hatched, and we now have chicks, poults, goslings, and a duckling scurrying around the Lippitt Farmstead.

On May 18th, our broody hen hatched three Dominique chicks. Marieanne fed them the traditional 1840s diet: a mixture of chopped hard-boiled eggs with breadcrumbs, oatmeal, and milk. It was quite an experience to hold in my hand a trembling bundle of new life. As I gingerly held this ball of feathers, its quiet cheeps were a delicate contrast to the persistent clucking of the mother hen nearby.

Now, a month later, they have been out of the coop for a few weeks and are no longer mothered and guarded so closely by the broody hen. They are starting to look and act much more like grub-pecking chickens.

Though I have spent most of my life in either Otsego or Herkimer County, I have never lived on a farm nor raised poultry so I was unprepared for the following. I had always assumed that chickens would only set on chicken eggs, and turkeys would only nest on turkey eggs. However, I soon discovered that this was not the case!

A chicken hen nested on five duck eggs and hatched two ducklings on June 4th. Not one, but two hens played mama duck with the ducklings as they adjusted to the world (or the coop) around them. Like chicks, ducklings also had a very specific regimen: usually a wet mash of bran, flour, cornmeal and beef scrap moistened with water. Unfortunately, only one duckling survived, but I managed to get a picture of both of them following one of their “mama” hens when they were just a week old.

Our one duckling is now growing rapidly, but it still thinks it is a chicken! Hopefully soon it will realize it has webbed feet and will waddle into the water.

As Marieanne mentioned in her last post, our turkey hen was sitting on nine eggs in the turkey house. On June 6th, one of the eggs hatched. Much to our surprise it was not a poult but a chick! A chicken must have snuck into the turkey hen’s nest and laid an egg unbeknownst to the turkey and farmers alike. Since turkey and duck eggs take twenty-eight days to hatch, and chicken eggs take only twenty-one, the five poults hatched a almost a week later on June 12th and 13th. Here is a picture of two of the baby poults exploring the barnyard on their second day.

The last fowl update is news on our goslings. They are now over two months old and always travel in a cackling mass. Their voices are starting to change as they mature into grownup geese.

Come to the Lippitt Farmstead and visit our growing brood of our lively feathered friends!

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