Frodo is sitting on eggs once again. It doesn’t take long to get that hen broody! This is her third broody phase this spring already. When she lays, she lays very well. For two weeks max at a time. Hence why her broodiness has to be managed. But this time I was eagerly waiting with some eggs for her to hatch. I had saved a lot but I didn’t want to give her too many, so I picked the best and/or most recent ones and gave her 12. Nine are hers and three are Legolas’. I really want to hatch a few of Legolas’ eggs. The fact that she got non-recoverable paralysis from Marek’s isn’t a good point for breeding, but I just loved her personality and ease of handling and would be stoked if I could get that personality in even one more hen. Plus, I don’t know how much of the way they handle Marek’s is genetic and how much is from the way they’re raised. So far, I’m having a much better track record with the feather children I’ve raised than the ones I bought as pullets, although it’s still early days yet. I would have liked to have put four of Legolas’ eggs under Frodo but I didn’t want to use the most recent ones she laid when she was paralysed and the others were getting a little old by the time Frodo went broody. If I can just get one Legolas female… Please!
Although I had a perfect hatch rate last time, I’m not expecting 12 out of 12 this time. Mr Bingley is still young for a father and also, I’m not sure about the most recent two of Frodo’s eggs. I left two in the nestbox to encourage her to go broody, taking out the oldest one until she stopped laying. The tricky bit is that she was sitting in there for quite a while for the last couple of days while she was laying in her pre-broody state, so I’m not sure if the eggs got kick-started early or not. I should have taken those two out and put two other saved ones in, but I was so eager I didn’t think about that. I was planning to put Frodo’s own eggs under her one day and Legolas’ the next day so they would hatch slightly later and I could tell them apart by somehow marking one lot. But Frodo went broody one late afternoon or early evening, sitting on the two eggs, but since I wanted to be sure she was broody I waited until the morning to put the rest of her eggs under her. Then I put Legolas’ eggs under her that evening, as I didn’t want there to be too much of a gap between hatchings. Thus, they should all hatch within 24 hours of each other, and Legolas’ should be the last three.
On the evening of Day 9/10, The Husband helped me to candle the eggs. It’s not as easy as it looks in photos. We used the bright torch on my mobile with a roll of small tape sitting on top to make a little circle that the egg could be cupped in. Most of the eggs looked fertile, with the presence of veins, but there were three we were unsure about: Legolas’ egg from 2nd October, Frodo’s egg from 7th October and one of Frodo’s most recent two, which I unfortunately didn’t date as I was leaving them in the nestbox and swapping them out. I really need to get some fake eggs. I’m planning to candle them again later this week before lockdown on Day 18. Hatching day, Day 21, ought to be Tuesday evening or Wednesday.
Frodo is sitting like a trooper again and I have to get her off the nest each day to eat, drink and poop. Gloves are mandatory as she does not want to be moved and pecks very swiftly! Once out, Frodo is like a noisy, neurotic puffer fish. I was shutting the gate into the run for a little bit so she could eat, drink and stretch her legs before Major Bingley arrived to get her in line and into the outer pen. I’m watchful of how he’s treating her but she wants to go out with the others for a bit now, and will jump over the gate if I don’t open it, so she can dust bathe and forage a little with her buddies before heading back into the coop. Mr Bingley has chilled out about it a little more now that he realises Frodo is not totally abandoning him.
At this stage I’m planning to move Frodo and her babies, once hatched, into the Hospital Cage, which has been cleaned, disinfected and moved right by the garage door. I will attach netting to it to make a little pen going outside, going up to the gate by the woodshed so that everyone can see each other. Then I can shut them in the cage in the garage at night or if I’m out. This is mainly so I don’t have to change everyone’s food but also because I’m a little wary of Mr Bingley’s assertiveness. He’s more assertive than Elrond was, so I’m not sure how he’d handle Frodo with a bunch of babies. I imagine he’d just try to keep them all in line but that could be bothersome for little babies. Elrond was very good with his babies and just let Frodo do her thing, but I can’t assume his son will be the same.
As for what I’m going to do with them all, we’ll just have to wait and see. I’m not counting my chickens before they’ve hatched. But females will be very kindly looked upon and will likely be kept for some time to see how they go. I am very curious to see what sort of colours come out. If Mr Bingley was a pure blue Australorp, Frodo’s babies would be 50% blue, 25% black and 25% splash. Splash is white with splashes of grey; not a recognised colour for showing but used in breeding. But since he is not pure and has red in him, who knows! And as for the Legolas babies, the barred colour is a sex-linked thing so any male chicks should be barred (like their mum) and females should be non-barred (like their dad), often black. Just one more week to go now!