Here’s a video clip of my broody hen, Courtney, doing some interesting chicken behavior. Notice how she picks of bits of pine shavings and feathers and puts them on her back. I've seen other hens engage in this behavior before and while I've not been able to find a definitive answer as to why hens do this, some suggest that it’s for camouflage. In the wild, a nesting hen staying in one location for an extended period of time would be a sitting duck (um….chicken) for predators. By covering herself with grass and other nearby material she better blends in with her surroundings. Poor Courtney would have a tough time blending in with her surroundings in the wild unless she was nesting on a fluffy white rug, but she can rest assured that she’s very safe and secure in the coop.
It is nineteen days and counting until I pick up the babies that Courtney will be mothering. The babies are coming from Wick Place Farm, a small, charming farm in southeastern Wisconsin that is home to alpacas, turkeys, bees, and several breeds of chickens. The babies will be Cream Legbars, a breed of chicken that is relatively rare in the US.
Cream Legbars have silver-gray barred necks and bodies, salmon colored breasts, a half-comb in the front of their heads and a unique cream and gray crest of feathers on the back of their heads. Their eggs are sky blue. One unique feature of Cream Legbars is that they are autosexing – the male and females chicks can be differentiated based on the pattern of their markings. They were developed at Cambridge University from a variety of breeds, including Leghorns, Barred Plymouth Rocks, and Auracanas and were introduced at the London Dairy Show in 1947. Greenfire Farms, the only legal importer of Cream Legbars to the United States, brought the first breeding groups to this country in 2010 and Wick Place Farm acquired their stock from Greenfire Farms. These little guys will grow into normal sized chickens, so they will rather quickly reach a point where they’re bigger than their adopted mom. It will be an interesting sight to see if they’re still trailing along behind her at that point!