Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

My lovely Bearded Silkie hen (Beautiful Sweet) is broody.  Again.  When she lays, she lays the most beautiful, perfect, ivory-colored eggs that you've ever seen, and lays almost every day.  Yes, they're tiny (she only weighs 2 lbs) but I love them because they're mostly yolk.  Alas, I won't be seeing any for a while.

Beautiful Sweet getting snuggled

I've been taking conservative measures--shutting the chookies out of the henhouse (and her away from the nestboxes) for a few hours at a time.  Believe me, I'm out there and watching for hawks, even though I know Stewie would alert.  Holding her so some cool air hits her vent is kind of twisted, but I've done it.  I don't think it's working.  So, it looks like I need to get the broody breaker coop set up.  Thanks to Diana, I have a small cage with a wire bottom to get her out of the nest box habit.

The last time she did this, I thought it was because she was getting picked on.  She is, after all, the smallest of all my chickens.  Now I'm rethinking the matter.  Yes, she might have gotten pecked, but she gave some pecks back too.  Of course, Silkies are one of the most notorious breeds for going broody, but I thought that if I gathered eggs often enough it wouldn't be an issue.  I guess it is.  She really does set on any egg she can find.  I had to take the dummy eggs out of the boxes (to try to encourage some of the other hens to lay) because she sat on them too.

So, tomorrow she'll be going into the newly named "broody breaker."  She'll have food and water, plus shelter and possibly a heat lamp (since she won't be able to snuggle up with the other bantams at night).  But she most definitely WILL NOT have a nesting area. Yes, I'll let her out to range a little bit and get her greens.  I have to confess that I'm rather apprehensive about reintroducing her to the coop after her isolation . . .but I plan to be there, watching closely, and it will probably go well.

A friend of one of my sisters wants some hatching eggs for her classroom.  I'd love for some of the eggs to be from Beautiful Sweet but so far, all of her eggs have gone into the refrigerator, probably killing the embryos, IF they were fertilized in the first place.  Of course, if they were, Cow is probably the daddy . . .and I'd love to see what a Silkie/Sultan cross would look like.  They'll probably get some other interesting mixes like Ameracauna/Rhode Island, Rhode Island/Orpington, but hopefully I can save them some that will hatch.  I want to see pics, but I want those kids to take the chicks home with them.  I've already got my breed plan and at least for now, mutts don't figure into it.  (yeah, I sound like a purist.  I'm still learning.)

Wish me luck, folks.  This is my favorite hen, since she really does live up to her name.  I'd like to get her back to laying!

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