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Homeschooling The Well Prepared Child: Moody, Broody Hens

Monday, July 6, 2015

Moody, Broody Hens

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     A while back, my cousin gave us a beautiful pair of Jersey Giant hens. They were 18 months old and were laying eggs. He said that Jersey Giants were slower to mature but made great layers. Zoey and I Ooohed and Aaaahed over them for days. They are solid black with bright red combs and piercing black eyes. They would not let us get near them though. My cousin said they were very friendly with his family and I hoped they just needed a little time to get used to us. 
     In the mean time, I thought this would be a good time to have Zoey do a little research project. Zoey got on our Chromebook and looked up 'Jersey Giant Chickens.' We talked about what 'Pros and Cons' were. She wrote her information in her new spiral notebook. This is what she found. 

Pros

Docile, beautiful, very large, stunning beauty, very hardy, size tends to deter predators

Cons

Slower growth, slightly poorer egg production, they eat a lot

12 Facts About Jersey Giants

  1. They were created in the late 1800s by John and Thomas Black by cross breeding 3 differrent kinds of chickens.
  2. Their name came from the state they were created in, New Jersey, and their size, Giant.
  3. They are slow growers.
  4. Jersey Giants eat A LOT.
  5. They are a good breed for the cold.
  6. They like to sit on their eggs and hatch them.
  7. Jersey Giants are good mommies.
  8. They are a dual purpose bird. They lay eggs and they are big enough to make a good meal.
  9. They are very soft. 
  10. Their eggs are a light to medium brown color.
  11. They lay extra large eggs.
  12. Jersey Giants tend to get along well with your other pets.
    
     How are our Jersey Giant Hens? Well... They are moody. The hens HATE our kitten and attack him every time he follows us to the coop. They still do not even like us after months of trying to be their friends. We can barely get near them. It has to be dusk or night time for us to be able to pet them, but, they are oh so soft! 


     Their eggs are a darker color than what our other hens lay. Can you tell which eggs are from our Jersey Giants? Hint: they are the larger and darker ones. ;)

     A couple of months ago, one of our hens went broody. What does that mean? Well like a woman hearing her biological clock ticking, a broody hen is determined to sit on her eggs and hatch her some babies. You can learn more about broody hens HERE. Honestly, since we just brought home 3 chicks from our schools hatching experiment, I was really hoping they would get over it. We had enough chickens already. 
Let's see...
3 Chicks from daycare. Unsure of breed or sex yet.
2 Jersey Giant Hens
1 Bantam Hen
9 Plymouth Rock Cross hens and roosters waiting to go to freezer camp. 

     So basically, we had 17 chickens at this time and were not wanting anymore chicks! Besides, we no longer had a mature rooster to fertilize the eggs. After three months, this hen was just not getting over her 'baby fever' and we felt so bad for her, we had to do something. 
     While at work one day, I was telling some of the girls about my broody chicken and not wanting more chicks. My friend has raised chickens in the past and said she would take any babies if I decided to get some fertile eggs. Okay then, why not? Let's do this! First thing I did, was call a local Ag Extension agent to see where I could get some fertile eggs. Their lady was not local, and wanted $8 a dozen. What? By the time I paid for gas, I would have spent $20 for 12 fertile eggs that may or may not hatch. (You remember our luck with hatching chicks right? If not, read the article HERE.) I got on Facebook and asked around some local farm animal groups, but all eggs were to expensive. Kinda wish I knew this when we had a rooster! Finally, a friend of mine messaged me and said she had A TON of fertile Bantam eggs. She met me half way between her house and mine. Instead of a dozen, she gave me 36 eggs and would not let me pay her for them. Now that is an amazing friend! 
    Now at this point, a blogger would have thought to take pictures of 36 small eggs that fit into a quart size baggy. Nope, I forgot! And you would have thought that I would have remembered to get a photo of the eggs in the nest, but no. However, there is a good reason for that. The hen decided she would not sit in the hen box that is on a top shelf like she had been sitting in for 3 months. She suddenly wanted to lay them in the bottom stall. Great.. I transferred the eggs from the top box to the bottom one, and slowly, carefully, placed them next to the scary broody hen. (Yes, scary. She tried to bite my hand off till she figured out I was giving her eggs!) 
Easy Momma! I'm trying to help you out here!
    We marked the calendar for 3 weeks. Time to wait to see what happens... Strangely enough, the other Jersey Giant hen decided she wanted to sit on the eggs as well. We checked on the girls daily. Rarely did we see them come off of their nest. When they did, it was only one at a time, and only for food and drink. When we got near them, the made warning noises to tell us not to come too close. Trust me, we didn't! These ladies are moody and broody! 
    About 4 days till the due date, we recounted the days to make sure our chicks would be hatching the coming weekend. Saturday came, I was in the garden, Alex was helping me with making more bamboo stakes for the tomatoes, Zoey had just gone inside to journal about our Potato Bucket Reveal, and Mike was checking the coop for eggs. I just happened to look over and see him emerge from the coop, cutest smirk on his face, and his hands cupped together, holding something very tiny. A chick! The three of us pet the tiny baby chick for a moment and then decided to surprise Zoey inside the house, rather than call her out. 
This silly girl is extremely excited! 
  Our broody, moody hens hatched out 17 eggs in total. We will be keeping a few. Yes, I know I said we didn't want anymore, but it's called 'Chicken Math' and you really can't deny Chicken Math. (Seriously, it is a real thing!) The rest will be going to my friend at work. 
    Today, Zoey and I went out to try to get some pictures of the chicks. It is hard to do, because, the mommies won't let us get near them. Not even one! They start freaking out and then the babies freak out. Suddenly, there are chicks running crazy like all over the place and it is just a crazy silly mess. We try to just watch them at a distance as not to upset them. Lately, hawks have decided to make our little farm their hunting site. We lost Little Red and Mike's Silver Spangled Hamburg rooter. (The one that refused to leave his side in the garage when we got out of the hospital. Insert sad face here for both.) AND, I swear there were 19 chicks at one point.... 

We did brave getting close enough to get a few pictures for you! Look! :D







So there you go! SUCCESS with a chicken hatch! Will we be doing it again? Yes, I think so. My friend said she would be happy to donate eggs at any time. We will just have to wait and see when our Jersey Giants get moody and broody again! 


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