We tried something a little different on the farm this summer! We put guinea hen eggs in the incubator, which is nothing new, but once we hatched 7 of the little keets, we put them in with some chickens who wanted to be Mamas! Those three Mamas are now raising the guinea keets!
Being able to do this doesn’t always work out; we’ve only been able to have a chicken mama raise chicks once in our few years of farming. The mamas must be in the mode, which is called “broody”. That means they want to sit on eggs to try to hatch them. We had three of our older girls all get this idea into their heads at the same time and they gathered in a corner of the coop to sit on some eggs.
We knew if the timing was right, we could try to switch those eggs out for the live keets, and the Mamas would not know the difference, and would raise them. We tried it with our chicks earlier this year, but it didn’t work out. That time we didn’t put the chicks right out, so they were a little bigger, perhaps too big for the Mamas to be fooled. This time the keets went straight from the incubator to join the Mamas.
I’m always so nervous about it! We moved the family from the corner of the coop into our big dog crate so they’d be safer from the rest of the flock. For the first few days, the keets hid under the Mamas and we couldn’t even see them much. But after a week or so, they started coming out a lot more. Now in the afternoons we let them all out into one room of the coop so everyone can stretch their legs more.
It was impossible for me to get a decent photo through the cage bars early on, especially since the little cuties didn’t come out much. Even with them out, it was tough to get good shots of everyone, so I included this little video too:
The other hens can get into that room, but the Mamas are very protective of their babies so there are no worries that the older birds will bother them. In fact, the older birds have been steering clear of even going in there. Since that is where their nesting boxes are, the little family has to stay in the cage during laying time! They can go out into the run on nice days too. They had quickly learned to escape outside from the coop, but it’s way too early for those little ones to free range!
It’s so fun to watch the chickens raising guineas as their own, and that three chickens will happily share the duties! It will be interesting to see if they all stick it out for the same amount of time (which should be several weeks).
One downfall to having broody Mamas is that they stop laying eggs. In this case though, it’s a good thing that we have older girls doing this since egg laying slows down as the birds get older. These 3 girls are all from our second round of buying chicks, so they are 5 years old now. I’ve read that is one good reason to keep your older birds around even when their laying has slowed way down….they are more than happy to raise some young ones for you (not that we wouldn’t keep them anyway!).
We’ve suffered some losses this year, there has been a fox around. Adding to the flocks is so important, and it helps to have babies to focus on to temper those losses. We hope that is under control now.
Farm dogs Copper Sue, Max, and all the barn cats are doing quite well. The weather has been nothing to speak of, with seemingly endless rain, and floods all over our state. Things have been a little drier lately and we’ve seen a bit more sunshine, though still we’re lucky to get two sunny days in a row before the rains come again. It doesn’t just rain, it POURS.
August is starting off quite cool, I’m worried summer might be over already!! The garden needs the heat back in order to be more productive! It’s been challenging enough this year due to all the rain, though we have fared better than some since our garden is on just a bit of a slope. The lack of sun slowed many things down though. Some things have flourished and others have suffered from all the rain.
Due to all that rain, the mosquitoes have been atrocious this year, so we put up a screen gazebo on our deck so we can sit outside without being eaten alive! Our smart pups quickly learned to let themselves in and out of the screen curtain!
It’s been a good summer at my shop so far! I’m hoping that trend will continue right through the Christmas season! We held an outdoor sale with several of our shop vendors participating in July. It went very well and brought a lot of new customers into the shop.
Things should be a bit quieter on the farm for the rest of this month and into the early fall, though there is never a shortage of projects around the farm! Soon our hens will go into their fall molt, which will slow egg production way down. Hopefully some of the new pullets will step in to pick up some of the slack! They should start laying by October or so, and will lay better than the older birds through the winter. Not that anyone around here is looking forward to that time of year! 🙂
We are happy to be joining the Aww Mondays blog hop hosted by our friends at Comedy Plus!