Monday, April 11, 2011

Sweet Springtime Sharing in the Chicken Coops

Spring in the barnyard means, amongst other things like horny drakes and a randy donkey, that the birds wanna settle comfortably into a nest to brood for a month or more. In both barns right now, we have some sweet sharing going on and I couldn't resist the opportunity for pictures.

So, somehow this duck and this hen have both decided that this is their nest and neither one is willing to move out. There are eggs underneath them - duck eggs. Because we don't currently have a rooster on the farm, the only fertilized eggs are the ducks'. So this poor hen is going to set for a month, helping to keep these duck eggs warm, and will be there to experience the hatching of the ducklings underneath her. At which point she will have to admit defeat; realizing that her babies look a lot like her nest-mate and nothing like her. She will probably find another nest to settle into for yet another long and unsuccessful month.  Fortunately not all hens go broody like this. Particularly with laying hens like ours; the tendency to brood has been bred out of them, so we only end up with a few that are obsessed with setting. Clearly, this is one of them.

And, then moving over to the other coop, we find these two surrogate moms sharing this nest of eggs... eggs. The result of this situation is a bit different than the other one, because there isn't a duck to take care of these ducklings when they're born. So, we'll probably remove the babies and handraise them, while remaining grateful to our natural incubation process here. It is possible that one of the hens will continue to mother these babies after they're hatched though - we've seen it before. Otherwise these hens, too, will very likely move on to a new nest of eggs after these eggs hatch.

Keep posted in upcoming weeks.... there'll be duckling pictures for sure! (and new baby goats sometime in the next week or so again too!)


Robyn said...

The duck & hen don't fight?

J.Rube said...

Nope, they sure don't. You can tell they'd rather the other wasn't there and make the odd quiet cluck or grunt at it, but they are shockingly complacent about the whole thing!

Hiromi said...

No roosters, J!!! Don't want any half developed embryos... :P yuck!!! Unless you can identify them, and save them for Cari...

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