Fledgeling chickens and mother hens

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In just a week, what was a shy flock of miniature Ixworths, rapidly flying back into the house at the merest sight of us humans, has become an exuberant gang of six rampaging amongst the straw. The hatchlings are thriving and, at this rate, it won’t be long before they range freely around the garden. Their breeder (Gillian Dixon at South Yeo Farm East in Devon) kindly got in touch on Twitter last week to say that it’s possible to sex them when they are between ten and twelve weeks old: the feathers on the base of their tail are rounded if female and pointed if male. So just a fortnight or so until we know our cockerels from our pullets. Can hardly believe they were this small at the end of March (below).

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Elsewhere, our poultry residents are just getting on with the day-to-day business of laying eggs, as they do, but not getting as much attention as they deserve I fear, due to our being distracted by the young ones.

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Araucanas Audrey (below, left) and Mabel continue to delight us with their inseparableness and eccentric charm. Mabel’s even turned a tad broody, so we have to lift her off the clutch of eggs occasionally and encourage her to eat and drink. The dedication that would-be mother hens show is really touching. She sits there for hours on end – all puffed up plumage – and, of course, with no hope of incubating offspring due their being no cockerel. So as long as she’s happy…

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