He is mostly a black leghorn bantam, but being hatched and reared by a big hen. We aren’t precious about letting the pure black leghorn bantam cockerels mix the blood a bit….makes them stronger, a bit like mongrel dogs.
We set the eggs under a broody hen so that they will hatch on a waxing moon, a few days before full is good. There is less mortality and better hatch rates then. The hen sits 21 days, maybe a day or two less if the weather is warm, or maybe a day or two later if not. We open her broody coop up each morning so that she can get out, stretch her legs and get some dew on her breast feathers – this is important towards the end of the hatch so that the eggs get moistened and the chicks can chip out easily. I ‘feel’ the eggs once or twice through the hatch while she is off the clutch, and if they ‘slop’ remove them, because they were either infertile, or havent started to develop…being careful to return the good ones in the same place, and without turning them. The hen does that, twice a day with her beak and feet…never a full rotation, or the cord inside gets twisted, just forward and back again – how brilliant is nature! This little chap had gone four days over, but the egg felt warm and ‘firm’ inside – she had shoved it out, because there were 12 other chicks running around. So I removed it, and you can see the rest. However, I had to be careful not to intervene too much because each little beak has a sharp upward pointing ‘pipping’ bit on the end. By pecking away at the shell from inside a muscle is strengthened in the neck. If I help him out too much, he comes out with a floppy neck and can’t feed. Thin line……anyway, he made it.
Any eggs that are laid by hens that have a cockerel (rooster) running with them, can potentially be hatched under a hen, or in an incubator. The cockerels are usually ‘attentive’ once a day, so that the next egg to be laid is fertile. The males have the usual equipment required, except the testicles are tucked up high inside the body cavity, and are only discovered when preparing it for the oven. Size for size, the nuts would be the equivalent of a human having two full Tesco shopping bags in their trousers – impressive huh!