Our Gold Laced Wyandotte, Goldie, has been sitting on a clutch of six eggs for the past three weeks. Today, her hard work and dedication has paid off…she has chicks!
It all began about a month ago, when we noticed that she wouldn’t get out of the nest box. That wasn’t a problem because we could still take eggs from under her. Then we noticed that she had denuded herself – it was startling because the bare skin on her underside looked like an injury at first. Once we figured out what was really going on, and that she seemed intent on brooding, we added five other freshly-laid eggs to the single egg she was sitting on. We kept the number low on purpose; broody hens can randomly decide they’re done being cooped up in a nest box and abandon eggs, so we figured we’d only lose six if she did that…and at about a week in, it looked like she had, indeed, abandoned her eggs.
That is, until we realized that she had only gotten off the nest for a bit and had come back. It had been a while, and we had already taken her eggs out to dispose of them (the incubator, unfortunately, was already full of duck eggs, but that won’t happen again since we have since acquired a second incubator to use as a hatcher). When we saw her sitting on her nest again, we recovered the eggs and placed them back under her. That was a close one.
Over the next couple of weeks, Goldie was an exemplary broody. She knew to leave the nest in the morning, when the layer mash was put out for the flock, and she always returned to the nest. A couple of times, sneaky hens would occupy her nest box while she was away and add an egg or two. Once, we found her in a different nest box, likely because another hen was in hers when she returned from breakfast. We just moved her (she was in an almost trancelike state we called the “zone” and very pliable) back to her eggs and she resumed incubation like nothing had happened.
Yesterday, we relocated her nest to the indoor brooder so she could hatch her chicks (due today) without harassment from other hens. This morning, we peeked in at her but couldn’t see much – she had puffed up and spread herself out across the box like broodies do. She started softly clucking and then a chick with chipmunk stripes appeared. It went back under her wing, but another (this time a yellow chick) appeared a couple of minutes later. A third hatched shortly thereafter, so half of the eggs have hatched as of late afternoon. She’s protecting her babies, keeping them out of sight, so it’s difficult to get a good count right now.
We hope all six will hatch, but even three is great for a first-time broody and hatchery chick. Go, Goldie, Go!