After a failed attempt to entice one of our White Chantecler hens to sit on some eggs in April, we purchased an Incuview incubator, and successfully hatched five White Chantecler chicks from our own eggs, along with ten Icelandic chicken eggs. In the meantime, we acquired a Phoenix hen, but our White Chantecler rooster met an untimely death.
When, last week, our beautiful Phoenix went really and truly broody, I seized the day. I started hunting for local sources of hatching eggs of some interesting breeds. We got fourteen Bantam Cochin eggs, with a Frizzle gene in the mix, from a lady down the road, and I wasted no time in putting them under the setting Phoenix.
The titular disaster ensued. One particular nesting box is favored by all the hens, and they periodically crowd into it in twos and threes. So I set the Phoenix on her new clutch in the second-most-favored nesting box, in hopes that she wouldn’t have to fight off the other hens. Our Rhode Island Red immediately crowded in, taking up a calculated position to lessen the possibility of being pecked. My unsuccessful attempts to remove her resulted in a broken egg.
I then moved the broody Phoenix and the eggs over to the Most Favored Nesting Box. The next time I went out to check, there was a White Chantecler in the box with her, more broken eggs, and two or three other hens right outside the nesting box looking in greedily like hungry, unblinking zombies. (Note: these were probably some of the very birds who stubbornly refused to set back in April.)
I knew I had to come up with a Plan B. I modified a cardboard box to make a nest, lined it with shavings, put the eggs in, and placed it and the Phoenix in a large cat carrier on a shady part of the back deck. I apparently oriented the rectangular box in a way that was not to the hen’s liking. After another broken egg, she was perched defiantly atop the waterer inside the cat carrier.
Plan C involved the unused, “upstairs” section of our coop and further modifications to my makeshift nesting box to utilize the longer dimension. I placed the now rather disgruntled hen on the nest, cooing encouragingly to her all the while, and left her to perform her instinctual duties in peace and quiet. This resulted in an upended nesting box and more broken eggs. Out of the original fourteen eggs, nine remained. It was time to implement Plan D: the incubator.
The Incuview is an excellent product, by the way, and I plan to review it in more detail at a later date.