Slates – Naturally

As we usually do at the end of the season we give the hens the opportunity to rear a brood naturally.  Importantly it shows us that they still retain the capability, and it is always such a delight to see these family groups as they develop.

Of particular interest has been a Slate hen who along with another started sitting in their pen.  Each has their own clutch of eggs, and one chose to nest under out of sight under a large bamboo whilst the other set up alongside a tub of herbs.

Halfway through incubation, the ‘bamboo’ hen moved her nest a few feet and out into the open grass.  She did this over a couple of days moving a short distance each time.

We thought this a very strange and questionable act, and there seemed no logic to it. We noticed that she had left a couple of eggs behind in the original nest, and that in itself is not remarkable. But to relocate with six eggs and set up where she was easily seen and exposed to the elements… crazy.

Of the two eggs left behind one had failed to progress, and the other had a ‘toe hole’ in it that was probably caused by the hen herself.  Given the recent hot weather one could surmise the hen left the nest as the punctured egg started to deteriorate.  But we will never know.

But, why didn’t she reduce her effort and just remove the punctured egg from the nest? 

Importantly ‘mum knows best’ as the relocated eggs hatched and the poults are doing fine………..

It is great to know our hens retain their ‘natural instincts’, and that is essential given the work we do….

I do so wish more turkey breeders of heritage varieties saw the importance of keeping these ‘natural instincts’ alive, because once they are lost they are gone forever..

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