They'd been sitting for about a week when I went into my chook run and was shocked to see four tiny chicks running around. It became quickly clear that their Mum was one of the shavers. I hadn't even known one had been sitting, she must have had a hidden nest somewhere. I was shocked as I'd always been told that shavers were hopeless breeders - they're too small to generate enough body heat and not sufficiently attentive to their chicks - but this girl just proved it all wrong or maybe she's the exception.
|Shaver Mum with four day old chicks|
The next day, though, she only had two chicks with her. We never found out what happened to the other two.
Two weeks later, while I was looking in some of the usual odd spots for eggs, I found one of my leghorns sitting on a nest. I hadn't noticed she'd gone and was also surprised to see her broody. I bought two leghorn hens about four years ago and they'd never shown any sign of it previously.
The following week, I went to check on her again, in her little hidey hole and saw what looked like a dead chick half under her. I wasn't sure and she was still sitting, glaring at me so I left it alone.
The next morning, I went out to see the chooks and she was by the gate with eight tiny freshly hatched chicks at her feet. Eight!?!
|Five out of eight chicks with Leghorn Mum|
When I went back to see where she'd been sitting, all the remaining eggs were her own - they're bright white and distinctly different from the brown eggs I get from my shavers or the creamy whitish ones from all my other breeds.
The barred rocks were still sitting.
Each day when I go to feed them, I do another head count. There are now 11 chicks. Two bigger ones that are probably about 4 months old now - one dark (Miss 12 has named it Weka) and one white with a funky top-knot (I've named it Blondini), eight smaller white chicks with the odd black spots that are about 3 months old and one single chick from my other leghorn who is now about 2 months old.
|Weka and Blondini - the two on the left|
|Some of the white chicks getting a bit bigger|
It's interesting to note that of all eleven chicks, only one (and it's one of the smaller ones) has a visible, noticeable comb so far.
Meanwhile, my barred rocks have given up. I have a shaver and an austrolorp playing constant swapsies between two nests (both full of eggs). I thought I heard a new chick peeping this morning but neither hen would move enough to prove it or show it off to us.
Hubby keeps asking how we'll know whether they're hens or roosters. I keep telling him when they either start crowing or laying - until then it's pure guesswork.