Julia and Joan chicken are as always a delight to watch. I had never imagined chickens would be such entertaining pets, but I really do get lost for hours just watching them scratch around the flower beds (!!). We've had these girls for just over a year and they are great little layers keeping us well stocked with lovely free range eggs.
And our sweet Joan has successfully hatched an egg! Baby J, as we don't know if it's a boy or girl yet, is the cutest little thing I have ever seen <3
Mama hen got broody a month ago and a work colleague offered me six fertilised eggs (he was given them but his broody hen decided she wasn't broody after all!) and I accepted a little tentively I must admit. You see our chicken house isn't really set up for babies, and honestly I had no idea how to care for a mama hen and chicks. Anyway I didn't really need to do much because Joan knew exactly what to do and set up a very cosy nest for her eggs. She sat on her nest for 23 and a half hours a day only getting up for a quick drink, munch on pellets and a dust bath.
A few days before the 21 day incubation period was over I caught Joan off her eggs so I could take a look and see how things were progressing. There were only three eggs in her nest, which surprised me but I learnt that chickens will push out any eggs that are 'bad'. I don't know if that's what happened or if it was an accident. I checked two of the eggs with a torch - one was very full (ie a big blob in the egg) and one was less full (ie only a small shadow in the egg). Having no experience with hatching eggs I just had to leave it and see what happened.
On Thursday the 16th I got home from work to find that one of the eggs (the one with the big blob inside) had hatched and tucked under my sweet mama hen was the tiny little chick that instantly stole me heart. I rushed out to Pets at Home to buy a bag of chick crumbs and find containers to supply food for our baby. See I told you I have no clue!
She got off the two remaining eggs which were in a raised nesting box but didn't go back to them because she couldn't get the baby up there. I brought them into the house to be warmed under a lamp but they didn't hatch :(
This has been such a huge learning curve for me and if I am going to hatch more eggs I need to do some redesign work on my chicken house.
So our sweet chick is 9 days old (6 days in the photo) and learning every day from it's mama. Joan has been wonderful, well done mama hen.