Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fanny

Poor Fanny (she's a hen if you're just tuning in). After setting on a dozen eggs for 26 days, Jamey took her off yesterday. We know 26 days is too long to wait for chicks- they usually arrive in 20 or 21 days. Fanny hatched a chick on day 23, but it died right away. It appeared that she never got off the nest to let it come out properly- it was pretty well flattened.

She was so determined to set and wait for her chicks to hatch. This makes me sad. Not just because I'm fairly emotional right now and I happen to be waiting for my chick to hatch, but because we're pretty sure it was our fault.

After Jamey took her off her clutch and we leg-banded her blue (we want to make sure she's had adequate food, drink and rest before we let her set again- if she even wants to), he opened her eggs in an attempt to figure out the problem. There were chicks inside- in varying stages of development- mostly young.

The mistake we think we made was not putting fresh eggs under her when we moved her to the broody box. We had done this with Emma. Giving them fresh eggs gives a better chance that the eggs are viable since when they are deciding whether or not to become broody, they may set on their clutch for several days (thus starting the chick development process) only to get off again for long enough to stop the process. Once they are in the broody box, they have been setting on (and sometimes off) the clutch for several days already. When we move them in, they really have nothing else to do and we can keep a better eye on them without disturbing the whole flock.

We're not sure how this explains the one chick who did hatch. Maybe Fanny or another hen laid it in with the others just before we moved her. That's our best guess. If anyone has another suggestion of what may have gone wrong, we'd love your ideas.

We're facing less of an egg yield and wondering if our two-year old layers aren't laying as often and the decision of what to do with them. I think we should provide some sort of hen retirement plan, but Jamey prefers the more practical harvest and stew option. So, while we decide about the older hens, do we order more chicks or hold out for another hen to go broody?

I have a feeling this is going to be the last time I think about these chickens for a little while. I do still feel for Fanny. All that setting and waiting and hoping. All for nothing. What keeps me from getting weepy is the fact that she has a bird brain and is probably over it by now. Pin It

7 comments:

  1. Sorry about poor Fanny...but I have to say, your "bird brain" comment made me laugh.

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  2. That is really sad. :( Poor Fanny. I suppose slipping in some fresh eggs wouldn't have worked either?

    We hope our buffs will get broody this year, but since we harvest the eggs about twice a day (sometimes more), I wonder if maybe that is actually discouraging them from sitting on them. :/ Do you have any special techniques you use to get your chickens broody?

    Beulah
    inbeulahland.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. That is really sad. :( Poor Fanny. I suppose slipping in some fresh eggs wouldn't have worked either?

    We hope our buffs will get broody this year, but since we harvest the eggs about twice a day (sometimes more), I wonder if maybe that is actually discouraging them from sitting on them. :/ Do you have any special techniques you use to get your chickens broody?

    Beulah
    inbeulahland.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm not an authority on why you didn't get a hatch but in response to Beulah wonderin how to get a broody hen, there are some breeds of chickens that are more prone to broodyness than others. It has nothing to do with how often you gather the eggs. We have a broody hen right now who is sitting on an empty nest. Our flock is a mix of breeds. It seems that the Rhode Island Reds are the most apt to sit. I think we'll take some fresh eggs and set her in a pen by herself as "Thy Hand" has suggested.

    V.

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  5. Beulah, I agree with V. It seems to be more about the breed than anything else. There appears to be nothing people can do to coax a hen into broodiness. I have heard that once one hen becomes broody, SOMETIMES others in the same flock soon follow suit. That has certainly been the case for us. We've had chickens for going on three years and it hasn't been until this spring that the first one went broody. Since she did, we've had three more show strong broody signs.

    Best of luck to you!!

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  6. It sounds like Fanny did everything fine, and I'd agree that fresh eggs are a good idea. Once the girl is good and broody, she'll go a long time on them. And a good brooder doesn't always mean a good mother. Love this chart of breeds and their characteristics: www.ithaca.edu/staff/jenderson/chooks/chooks.html

    I've never had any RI Reds go broody. I understood that the idea had been to breed that tendency out of them so they'd be better layers. 'Course there are always exceptions. I had a brahma that NEVER went broody and they're supposed to be fantastic. grr.

    Happy birthing!
    MAC

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  7. im in the same boat with Jamie, an old layer is a great stew bird!

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