So, back to PPPHatch Plan B, my neighbour and owner of the lovely big fluffy Black Cochin decided that hatching eggs and sharing the resulting chicks between us was a good idea; she had a bevy of other broodies (I love Cochins but I'd forgotten what a pain they can be in summer) so while I was having fun in Holt she hatched Plan B.
Well, in fact it ended up as 'Plan B amended' . . . the initial idea was to obtain some Cochin hatching eggs, but unfortunately the Cochin breeder she visited had lost her flock to a fox attack, so my neighbour went in search of hatching eggs elsewhere and came back with a dozen mixed breed eggs. Faced with a clutch of eggs, one by one the new broodies had a reality check and decided they weren't interested!!!! However the lovely Black Cochin would-be mum was still determined. So after a fraught and stressful afternoon she was allowed to continue her vigil and sit on the knew clutch of eggs.
Now - please don't do this at home folks! Letting a hen sit for six weeks isn't to be recommended, but sometimes rules are there to be broken. Phone calls to various experienced hen-wives reassured us that if our broody was in good health we should let her carry on and go through another three weeks sitting. It was a risk, not least to her health, so we've been very careful to leave her undisturbed apart from ensuring she eats and drinks at least once a day.
I know that something has been happening behind that door this weekend, so let's have a peep inside . . .
The Black Cochin mum does look weary doesn't she? I do hope she's OK. This afternoon we hope she'll have a good stretch outside and a well deserved crop-full of food – and show us all her chicks :-) I wonder how many there are?
12.30pm Monday 4th June
10 eggs reached the full term of incubation
There are 8 healthy chicks; 1 chick hatched but sadly died shortly afterwards and another is looking frail.
Black Cochin Mum has stretched her legs and we've washed her messy bottom feathers (not the most pleasant of jobs but very necessary) she had a walk about in the sunshine and dust bath! It looks as if she is being a good mum – she has been encouraging the chicks that hatched first to peck mashed hard-boiled egg and chick crumbs. All the chicks are now snuggled under her clean dry feathers in a clean fresh nest in the larger end of cleaned-out coop. We've left the door open a little and she has chick crumbs, fresh mashed egg and water nearby.