On the Farm: Only at Springmont!
There’s always something interesting happening “on the farm” at Springmont, and late summer was no exception! Our beloved turkey hen, Jenny, had been broody for many months, hoping for some turkey chicks (or poults) of her own. She finally has something to gobble about, but it’s not what you think!
Both hens and turkey hens get broody which means all they want in life is to hatch some chicks. Hormones kick in and the hen retires to a nesting box where she camps out, growling and pecking at anyone who dares approach. She means business! Broodiness can last a few days or several months depending on how committed the hen is. Having a broody hen is ok if you don’t mind having some chicks and if you know some of those eggs will hatch. Having a hen sit on eggs that never hatch is unfair to her, and left to her own devices, a hen will forgo her usual foraging activities resulting in weight loss and a general decline in health.
Unlike chickens, turkey hens will lay an entire clutch of 12+ eggs over a period of time and then incubate them. Jenny laid two clutches over the summer but it seems none were viable. So, when a couple of chickens decided that the turkey barn was the ideal spot to leave a few eggs, Jenny saw her chance to have one more go at it, and she sat on them for three weeks straight. She rarely left her nest and was rewarded when two tiny black chicks hatched. We all watched and waited to see how this would play out. Would she take one look at them and realize they were not hers? Or might the chicks see this enormous bird and shriek “YOU’RE NOT MY MOTHER!”
Well, nature, as always, found a way, and the three of them have become the sweetest little family. Jenny clucks constantly over them, guiding them in the art of scratching and foraging. She keeps them under her feathers on cool evenings and mornings and finds the sunniest spot in the barnyard for them to lounge during the warm part of each day. They follow her diligently into the barn every evening.
Of course, it will be some time before the chicks can manage on their own but it will be interesting to see if and how they separate themselves. Will they end up moving into the coop with the rest of the chickens or will they stay in the turkey barn? Will Jenny become more tolerant of chickens now? We're waiting with bated breath to see what happens next!