Friday, May 01, 2009

Farm Report: "Heather has Two Mommies"

Last month the first chicks of the year began to hatch. I've been letting the chickens hatch eggs from Turendot, our Chinese Cochin hen, because I want a hybrid cross of her with the Bantams.

I nick-named the first chick "Heather", because she has TWO mommies. The Hen on the left is Turendot, her biological mother, and the hen on the right is the Bantam hen who hatched Heather.

Heather imprinted on the Bantam that hatched her, but also was attracted to Turendot; she would run excitedly back and forth between the two hens, taking turns napping under each one. Both hens started to treat her as their own, and shared the chick; hence the name "Heather" (from the controversial book).

But Turendot has since hatched two of her own eggs, and now there are three hybrid chicks. The third was hatched on Easter Day. Here are the three "Heathers" with their two mommies:

Maybe they aren't all Heathers. I'm hoping there is at least one Heathcliff in the batch. I'd like to have hybrid rooster; it would likely be larger than the Bantam roosters. The Bantams are too small to breed with our full size Barred Rock, Bluff Rock or Road Island Red hens.

Hawks have killed our big hens because they are slow and can't escape quickly. The Bantams can fly and escape quickly, but their eggs are too small to be useful for much. I'm thinking that if I can cross breed the two kinds, using the hybrid rooster as a kind of plumbing "step-up" to... "make the connection", the resulting birds would be medium sized, with some of the Bantam's speed and agility, but with bigger eggs. Anyhow, it's an experiment.

We have a fourth chick now, it was from a hybrid egg that I discovered that I had accidentally put in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Andy said it would not hatch out, but I put it under one of the Bantam hens anyway, to see what would happen (yes, another experiment). Well, it worked:

Eggs that have been refrigerated can indeed hatch. Whodathunkit?

The mommies and chicks have the run of the yard in the daytime, and I lock them up at night. They seem to get bigger every day. Now we just have to wait and see what the little thuglets turn out like as they mature.

Never a dull moment on the farm!

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