Well that confirms it, with the arrival of chicks, spring is here. Sixteen hatched easily and quickly – which is the way we like it. And this is good news for Eddie our Rhodie cockerel, as it confirms his position within the flock. We set 24 eggs, 6 were blank – a fairly high ratio but he is outnumbered by a fairly large number of hens.
I realise we could improve fertility rates by putting him with just 2 or 3 girls, but I’m not keen – a hen can be fairly battered and sometimes injured by being the centre of a cockerel’s attention, and by running him with his usual harem; birds I have put with him on purpose to breed from, the flock is settled, and there is no time wasted waiting for everyone to re-establish the pecking order. It’s easier and we accept the loss of some blank eggs in the hatch.
Interestingly, fertility rates are also affected by other factors, such as diet, stress, age of the parent birds, and time of year. You can spend a lot of time worrying about it, or you can be like me and go ‘oh a broody hen! let’s hatch some eggs!’
I like to get a hatch on fairly early, just to ensure we get the birds I want to breed this year. We gambled that we would have a broody to raise them before the twenty one days were up – but no broody – so I shall have to hand rear them. The plus side of this is I get chick-cuddles.