Hens are amazing and funny creatures and, in my five years of keeping them, they have provided me with no end of amusement and entertainment.
I have decided to write a bit of a guide to tell everyone about some things, you may not realise about our little, feathered friends.
A chick takes about 21 days to hatch-either in an incubator or under the fluffy bottom of a mother hen.
2. A group of chickens is called a flock.
3. The hen that sits on the egg is not necessarily the hen that laid the egg. A broody hen will sit on any eggs to hatch them-regardless of whether the chicks will be related to her or not. Indeed, hens will sit on any egg so it is not uncommon for duckling eggs to be put under a hen too. The Ugly Ducking story could well have been true.
4. Not all eggs are destined to be chickens. A hen lays an egg, on average, once a day-whether
the egg is fertilised or not. For this reason, the chances of you eating a fertilised egg is slim to none.
5. . A fertilised egg needs to be kept at the right temperature for every second of the 21 day gestation so if you buy hens from a backyard hen keeper, there is still little chance that you will ever find a chick in your egg.
6. The only way a chicken egg can be fertilised and become a chick is if the flock has a resident, fertile cockerel. So the eggs you buy from the supermarket would never be fertilised because farmers would not keep cockerels in commercial flocks.
7. The word chicken refers to the whole of the species. A female chicken is a hen and a male is a cockerel. It always gets me when I see the term ‘chickens for sale’ and it ends up being a cockerel.
8. Every flock has a pecking order. There is a top girl in every coop and pecking is normal. When new and younger birds come into the flock, it is usual for quite severe pecking to take place to show the new comers who is boss.
9. Pecking may be normal but it can also be vicious and it is not uncommon for hens to draw blood on new recruits in the coop.
10. Chickens are attracted to the colour red so any blood drawn on another bird would attract the hens to peck more. This also applies to red anything-so if you were to go amongst chickens, wearing flip flops with painted, red toe nails, they would peck your toe nails.*
*This happened to a friend 😉
There are so many things to learn about chickens but these are the basics and are what many people ask me when I say we keep hens.
For more information about keeping chickens, why not check out my beginners guide to chicken keeping and five reasons why you need to keep chickens as pets.