Did you know that you can help a broody hen with its nesting habit if you provide it with fertile eggs to incubate? Yes, you can, and here’s how.
Namely, in an experiment carried out in Baltimore, Maryland several years ago, there was a hen that became regularly broody, which prompted the people in charge to try to use her mothering instincts to help raise fertilized duck eggs. There were several of them mostly raised for laying eggs and compost, but this particular White Orpington inspired an interesting experiment which eventually led to the even more interesting conclusion – it is possible for a hen to bring ducklings to this world.
You should know that broodiness does not necessarily implies that the hen in question will be a good mother, but that turned out to be true in this case. The fertile duck eggs were put near the nesting box for the hen to have some privacy. Believe it or not, in April that year, little ducklings came to this world thanks to a hen, a White Orpington.
Even though a hen was the one to incubate the duck eggs, there was a possibility that the chicken food wouldn’t be appropriate for the ducklings. So, here’s what was done – they were given homemade duckling food mixture which consisted of foraged garden weeds, crushed crackers, oats, hardboiled eggs, and cooked jarred whitefish. Not only was the food good, but they also fit in well with the chickens soon afterwards.
So, who’s to say that there’s no some sort of surrogacy in animals, too, right? This beautiful example shows that everything is possible, be it just an exception or a more common phenomenon – it’s still worth our admiration, don’t you think?