I have a plan. A chicken plan.

(That sound you hear is God laughing.)

As you cannot possibly help but know, I am getting 15-18 heritage turkeys in the spring. These will be my first turkeys, my first meat animals, and it will be a learning curve. I just don’t have the time or the personal resources to raise chicks this spring, too.

But, that doesn’t mean I can’t have chicks.

This is the spring I am going to try an old-fashioned broody hatch. By all accounts, a good broody will take excellent care of her babies, and make sure they are protected from (and integrated into) the flock. This plan hit a major bump in the road when Buffy was killed. She was my hard-core, go-to broody girl. I spent half of last summer dunking her in cold water.

But, in the immortal words of Yoda…there is another.

Abby may not have been broody as frequently as Buffy, or as belligerently so, but she did go broody, twice. and the first time was a pretty spectacular display of will. What say you, more-experienced-chickeneers-than-me? Once a broody, always a broody? Can I count on a repeat from Abby this coming spring?

Let’s say I can, just for fun. What to put under her? No roosters here at Heedley’s Hens, so I’d need to bring in some fertile eggs. I had originally thought to give my broody some of Gregory Peck’s eggs, and hatch more Easter Eggers. Farmer Tony owes me a solid for Gregory, and that would be an easy, local, free transaction. Then, I started, as I do, to get ambitious.

There’s definitely a pattern here at Heedley’s Hens, when it comes to our animals. Billie is black. All four of our cats are some combination of black, white and grey. Of our fifteen chickens, fully ten are black and white. Some of this is coincidence, but I just like the white/black spectrum.

Losing Buffy made me want more Orpingtons, and, if I’m getting hatching eggs, I can get proper breeder-quality Orps, which look like feathered basketballs. And, as it turns out, Orpingtons come in my favourite of all animal colours…blue. Which is to say, gun-metal grey. Here’s a Blue Orpington hen:

small rosie

Ain’t she purdy?! I love the look of this breed. Just one problem: they lay your basic brown egg, which does not increase the beauty of my egg carton. Well, if one wanted to make that a priority, there’s always the Black Copper Marans, who lay chocolate-coloured eggs:

11c2e66e_chicken_maraneggs

WOW. But the hen, herself?

3380463857_a43c73b04f

Ehn. She’s pretty, but I have three black girls. I was in a quandary. Then I learned about this:

blue_copper_marans_hen_adult.70164320_large

This, gentle reader, is an uncommon Blue Copper Marans, and she lays eggs as gorgeous as her black sisters’:

141

But she’s BLUE.

Oh, it’s on.

This would be my first hatch, broody or otherwise, and I will have to face realities from which I have been protected, hithertofore, by hatcheries. Not all of the eggs will hatch, especially with shipped eggs. Some of the chicks that do hatch may be weak or deformed and need to be culled. And there will be boys.

But now that I’ve done my research on the porta-kill guys, I could have unwanted, unadoptable roos butchered when I have the turkeys done in the fall. But…let’s say, just for kicks, that I keep a roo from the hatch? I mean, they’re purdy (if not strictly monochromatic):

DSCN0274.24873709_std

PLUS…y’all know what happens when you breed a chocolate egger to a blue-egg layer, right? Unless I’m wrong (and I could very well be wrong; I frequently am), you get…

100_0793.345171351_std

Olive Eggers.

So, there you have it, the beginnings of A Plan.

Abby willing.

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16 thoughts on “I have a plan. A chicken plan.

  1. I don’t mean to laugh while pointing this out, but the olive eggs aren’t really ‘purdy’ as in making your dozen eggs “prettier”… they are different, but that’s not actually the same thing. Unless I’m wrong- and I frequently am, lol.
    Seriously, drab… but I imagine in a carton of white eggs they would sure stand out!
    (I actually buy a brand at our expensive ‘natural’ store that puts one blue (ish) egg in each carton of brown eggs. I pay EXTRA to see that blue one. Yes, I did once take an extra blue egg from another carton, so that I could try hatching them!) Oh well.

    • Well, I guess purdy is in the eye of the beholder! It’s not one of my favourite colours, but I was thinking in terms of getting as much variety in the carton as possible. And we don’t have any white egg layers here. Hmmmm.

      Yes, a Fresh Foods near us sells six-packs of Auracana eggs and Maran eggs. They don’t get as much for them as I would have thought they could, but maybe I just lived in NYC too long!

  2. I have a blue copper hen and she’s very pretty. Just started laying dark gems last weekend. And you are right about the olive eggs. I cannot wait to hatch some mixed chicks. We have two blue Ameraucana hens, an Easter Egger hen, and a black copper Marans rooster, so they should be some pretty olive eggers!

  3. I like this plan. I so want chocolate eggs..

    Remember not to think about a broody too much or it won’t happen. It only happens when you don’t want it to happen…

    Yes I think you can expect Abby to go broody again, but when? That’s another question that I can not answer.

    15-18 turkeys =O Hope you are saving for the massive feed bill!

      • Ever hear about fermenting feed? Saves me 50 pounds a week. ;)

        Well at least you can’t say I didn’t warn you lol.

      • THIS merits its own post, Aoxa! My only problem will be determining how much feed my girls eat in a day. I have no clue.

      • Oh I love to hear you say that!! Fermented feed has changed my life :)

        I’ve cut feeding in half. You are home a lot of the day aren’t you? You’d be able to see how much works for them at a time. You know those huge gravity feeders you buy at the feed store? Well my flock went through two of those every single day in the summer. Now I go through less than a 5 gallon bucket a day, and lots of that is water. Just saying.. It’s done amazing things for me.

      • Oh and your girls would eat probably between 1 – 1.5 pounds a week each. Use that as your basis for how much they would eat in a day.

      • My girls just don’t eat much feed. I have 15 chickens (as many as 17 adults) and have never gone through more than a 50-lb bag of feed a month. They just don’t eat that much of it, and it’s free feed all day…

      • WOW. That is amazing. What else are they eating? Maybe your food is just so complete that they don’t need a lot to keep full. Don’t stop what you’re doing if it is that little. You may want to consider a change when you get the turkeys for just the turkeys, but seems like you are doing very well with your chickens and feed consumption right now.

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