Saturday, 15 September 2012

Priscilla, Queen of the Nestbox

Saturday 15th September 2012
Hopefully the start of a fine weekend.

The newly named Priscilla.
Chick of Elvis has been renamed. This is because she has now developed her own personality and should not live in the shadow of her surrogate mother any more. However, inspired by real life, Elvis' daughter has been named Priscilla! And she takes after her mum (anyone new to this blog needs to know that Elvis is a hen).

Elvis, broody again.
For quite some time Elvis herself has been reluctant to give up her eggs, or to move from her chosen nestbox, so a few days ago I placed ten eggs into one of the coops and moved Elvis into it. There she has stayed.

But like surrogate mother like daughter.

For Priscilla has also been spending most of her time sat in a nest box and has been defending her egg every day. So two days ago I put ten eggs into her coop. Even as I added extra hay and formed a depression for the first two eggs, Priscilla was looking on and clucking. By the time I had carefully put four eggs in, Priscilla was on them, nestling down contentedly and shifting the eggs into place delicately with her beak.  Every extra egg I gave her was received with evident gratitude and maternal delight.
I have placed under the two hens a mix of eggs - some their own, some from other hens and some purchased from local outlets. If these are fertile they will help vary the genetics of my flock and there were some lovely white and some chocolate brown eggs in the boxes too.

The downside to this is that these two hens were providing the vast majority of our eggs. Only one other is laying regularly, plus maybe an egg a day from the others. I am hopeful that a couple of the new hens will come into lay very soon too.
But for the moment that means that we cannot keep up with demand from our three regular customers. Hopefully they will understand and by early next spring our efforts at increasing our egg-laying flock will be bringing some success.

Priscilla's ever-expanding egg collection.

Anyway, Priscilla has decided that she wants to be some sort of rival to the guineafowl! Today, as she left the nest for a short while to stretch her legs, I counted fourteen eggs under her. She has again taken to snaffling all other eggs that are laid in the box next to hers. We may have to close the door on her and only let her out in the evening, when the other chickens have already laid elsewhere.

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