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New Babies

Garth Brown |

Since moving to the farm I’ve had cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, geese, and ducks. But until two days ago only the first of these had ever been born on here. I plan on farrowing my own pigs, but not until next year; so far I’ve purchased piglets that are weaned and a couple months old. Like the vast majority of poultry in this country, all of mine had been ordered through the mail as day old chicks.

Trying to manage the genetics of a species to maintain a thriving, productive population takes a lot of work. But it has always seemed a little strange to have my little flock of hens, which I keep only for my own eggs, rely on the giant hatcheries, particularly since it’s very unlikely those hatcheries are able to effectively select for the traits I want in my chickens, specifically foraging ability and predator awareness. So this year when a couple hens went broody I put them in a small coop by themselves along with two clutches of (hopefully) fertilized eggs.

The Buff Orpington turned out to be less than committed. She would sit for a while, but she also enjoyed spending hours standing near the feed dish in the hopes that I would freshen it, so her eggs didn’t amount to anything. But of the six I put under a little English Game Fowl four hatched out and three survived. They’re really cute, though I don’t think the mother hen much appreciates it when I get too close.


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