No, we haven’t been to the supermarket for eggs to eat, we’ve bought some fertile eggs for Ruby!
After deliberating the pros and cons of letting chicks hatch, we decided that even if Ruby sat on fertile eggs for 21 days and chicks hatched, as we do with most things that come our way, we’d just deal with it. There was also the question of our upcoming holiday, and timing of any chicks hatching and their first few days.
I called the hotel we were staying at, to see if we could bring a cage with us that would contain one hen and 4 chicks, a common request I suspect, but thought I’d check anyway! We wanted to time any hatching so that the chicks were a few days old when we travelled to Surrey, so the plan was to buy some fertile eggs and put them under Ruby in a couple of days’ time to give her a full 21 days to incubate the eggs, then a few days after that to settle the chicks in, before we (all!) had to leave.
We set up a broody create for Ruby in the barn. This was our hospital / carrying / isolation crate that we use, with a cardboard box inside the create and some towels over the sides to create a darkened nesting area. We placed some eggs in the nest and moved Ruby in. We needed to make sure that she would find the new setup suitable for sitting on eggs before swapping these eggs for some fertile eggs in couple of days’ time.
We left Ruby to settle in and walked the short distance to a nearby poultry farm that sells fertile eggs. We weren’t sure about the type of eggs to get and how many, so it was good to speak to the owner to ask about hatch success rate and to be able to see the male and female chickens from the different eggs that were sold. We decided on a mixture of 4 eggs; 1 Cream Legbar, 1 Welsummer, 1 Rhode Island Red and 1 Lavender Arauncana.
We arrived home a little while later to see Ruby settled in to her new home, sitting on 4 infertile eggs, and put the box of 4 fertile eggs to one side, with the intention of swapping the infertile eggs for the fertile eggs in a day or so.