Sunday, April 10, 2011

A tale of two setters

All together now!

The girls

Campines are not supposed to go broody.  This means they do not set on their eggs to hatch them.  They do hide their eggs, but not so that they can hatch them.  They just like to hide them.  They are very crafty.  Last place was in a box that was tall and narrow - about four feet deep, and only a foot wide by maybe three feet long.  Very hard to get in there!  It's why I didn't look inside.  But when I saw a chicken fly OUT of the box, I looked.  Six lovely white eggs!!  You check for the freshness of an egg by putting it in water.  If it sinks, it is okay.  If it floats, it is getting pretty old.  Two of them were old.

Of course, now that I have found the nest, they will not lay there again. One time I found ten eggs in a box of handles - definitely not a comfortable place to lay an egg.  But there they were!

I have thought about hanging some nests in both barns, in the hopes that they would choose a nest rather than look for a hiding place. I don't think it will work, though.  Do you?

Anyway, having been told that Campines don't go broody (one of many reasons that they are on the critical list), I had a Campine go broody!  I thought she was sick, but my friend Cameron said he thought she was broody.  So I let her be.  A few days later, a Buckeye went broody as well, which is to be expected.  That breed often broods.  So there were the two of them sitting on eggs of every color.  I assume that other chickens fly into the nest and deposit an egg while the broody ones are getting food and water, perhaps in the hopes of having progeny since I am not letting any more hens set.  Too many egg customers, and the odds of them actually hatching out a few chicks and then raising them to a viable age are slim to none.  I am only doing this because I am so fascinated to have a broody Campine.

Misty (Cameron's wife) told me that I should mark the eggs.  That way I can pull out the newly laid eggs, which will not hatch with the others and will just be wasted eggs.  I didn't listen until one day there were five new eggs under the two of them,  for a total of 21 eggs.  There had only been 16 eggs in both nests the day before. So now they are marked.

Broody girls - Campine on left
I took out a marking pen and marked both sides of each egg with a big X, since the hens roll each egg over once a day and I wanted to be able to see the X's without having to lift the chickens completely out of the nest.  (Rolling the eggs is part of the routine - it keeps them evenly warm.)  In order to mark the eggs, I gently lifted out the Buckeye, put her in a nearby nest, put on the X's and returned her.  Now the Campine, that was another story.  She was pissed when I lifted her off!  I heard it the whole time I was marking the eggs.  Then when I tried to put her back on the eggs, I REALLY heard it!  She flew away.  I went back and checked the nest several times, since the eggs need to be kept consistently warm.  Finally about 35 minutes after the incident, she came back and crawled into the nest and glared at me.  A sight to behold, believe me.

Now each day I lift them up a tiny bit and count.  I have the number of eggs in each nest written on the outside of the nest.  I have gotten one to three new eggs each day, so it is good that I marked them.  Wish I had done it sooner.  There are at least five of them that will never make chicks, and my customers are waiting in line for the eggs!

Really, having a Campine hen pissed off at me has been one of the more sobering events of the past few weeks.  Hell hath no fury like a Campine moved (from her eggs).


  1. Interesting. I know nothing about hens so this was very educational.

  2. It is for me as well. I am letting them set just because it is so interesting to see it happening the way nature intended, rather than in an incubator.