HillTop Highlight – Agatha the Amerucana

Salutations from the HillTop!

As I state often, many of our readers are our customers. I like to highlight a flock member regularly so you can truly take knowing where your food comes from on a different level.

Our second year of chicken keeping, 2018, we decided to more than double our flock. We had a comfortable mixed flock of nine girls. We added twelve to increase our flock and I became so intrigued with varying breeds. With twelve chickens we were adding, we also added eight new breeds.

One thing I wanted to do in adding new breeds was to add colorful eggs to our arrangement. For those of you who have never bought eggs from anywhere other than the store, there are chickens that lay blue, varying greens, browns that look red and chocolate. These colors are so vibrant compared to the standard brown and white eggs that most are expecting to see.

To add the blue, we added a little Amerucana chick.

Each group of chicks we get, we name with a theme. This year’s was vintage names. The little Amerucana we named Agatha, Aggie for short.

Aggie had a sweet disposition. Aggie was a bit different for several reasons compared to the girls already in our flock. First, she was one of three new additions that would lay colored eggs, but the only one we had that would lay blue. She was one of our first fluffy cheeked girl. Some chicken breeds have fluffy cheeks and we obtained two in this set. Aggie has a pea comb (most people when thinking of chickens think of the single comb) which is ideal for colder weather that Pennsylvania has. Lastly, most people are used to seeing chickens that had yellow legs. Aggie had dark legs, almost black.

Aggie is the only chicken that I’ve attempted to give baby chicks to as well. She occasionally will go broody (the need to sit on eggs so they hatch). Broodiness is not necessarily a good thing. It takes 21 days to hatch eggs, and if a hen is determined, she’ll go the distance. That means, the hen will stay until she hears the chick peep. This is actually a very hard on the chicken. She sits on a nest day in and out for 21 days. She looses wait and stresses her body out, and only gets off the nest once or twice a day.

The other issue for our hens, and many to go broody, is we do not have a rooster in our flock. Therefore, our hens can sit on an egg for 21 days or 48 days. It’s not fertilized, it will not hatch. But without a peep of a chick, the hen won’t stop sitting.

We purchase hens that are known for not going broody. However, there are times I want an aspect about a breed badly enough, I’ll deal with the occasional broodiness. Aggie is one of the few chickens that we have that tends to go broody at least once of year. We normally try to break the broodiness, taking them out of the nest, removing eggs often throughout the day, and make sure they are kept outside as often as possible.

Up until last year we were able to accomplish this. Last spring she went broody. It was tuff to break her. We were in the shutdowns of the pandemic still and I thought, after attempting to break the broodiness with no luck, oh well I’ll just order her chicks.

So we did. Four little chicks for her to raise. I was so excited about it. I gave her four eggs to sit on, put her in a little nesting brooder to keep her safe from the other hens and waited for chicks to arrive.

It was not meant to be. Out of our four chicks, only one survived the shipping. I placed the chick in the brooder…Aggie did not like the chick. She was downright hostile towards it. We removed it when she pecked at it.

Not all broody hens accept chicks. Aggie was one of them.

We ended up getting a few chicks from a local feed store to ensure the chick wasn’t alone, and we raised them in the brooder without a Momma like we always have.

I have not fully given up hope on having a broody Momma raise chicks. But Aggie may not be that girl. Ironically, she was the one of the most patient with the young pullets when we added them into the flock. And, as I type this, I am battling Aggie’s broodiness yet again. This seems to becoming a spring event for us.

If nothing else, battling her broodiness gives us an event to mark the seasons.

Agatha has been a blessing, even with her “faults”, to our flock. She is now one of our older girls, more patient than most, she lays absolutely beautiful robins-egg blue eggs, and still has the potential of one day possibly raising chicks for us.

When you acquire a dozen eggs from us, and see a beautiful blue egg within the carton, you now can know that Aggie laid it especially for you.

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