I wrote earlier this summer about the surprise our little Miss Golden Laced Cochin bantam hen presented us with one morning.
Our poultry has daily access to a half-acre fenced in pasture including a heavily wooded area, and we don't take a head count of all the chickens each night when we shut them in their house.
Apparently this little gal made a nest in the woods and hatched out her own little family of chickies.
The chicks are now about six weeks old and completely feathered out. (Too bad their natural coloring makes for such good camouflage this time of year. It's hard to get a good picture of them.) They're about four to five inches high . . . little energized wind-up chicks scurrying around the poultry yard.
Here's the proud papa . . . who shows absolutely no interest in his brood.
Out of curiosity after we discovered the chicks, Roy went on a search through the woods to see if he could spot Mama Hen's nest. He never did find it but did come across one other little chick that apparently was born too weak and didn't make it. So she hatched five eggs, out of which these four have grown hale and hardy indeed.
We've always kept a couple/few bantams along with our regular sized birds. The banties lay more eggs than the bigger birds in proportion to the very small amount of chicken feed they consume.
No question about it, bantam eggs are much smaller as you can see by the above picture. Regular sized egg on the left, little marble-sized bantam egg on the right. If you had only bantam eggs, it would be difficult to determine how many of them to substitute when a recipe called for, say, two large eggs. I don't hassle with that. I never use the bantam eggs for baking as I have the regular sized ones readily available. But no reason the bantam eggs can't be used for scrambled, poached, or fried eggs. I regularly take a couple dozen eggs to a friend that I barter with and she is pickled tink to get some of the bantam eggs. Her little nieces visit regularly and they love hard-boiled eggs. She uses the bantam eggs for these treats and her nieces think the tiny eggs are especially for them. (And they are!)
Another point in favor of the bantams that we like is the fact that they tend to go broody often (which means they want to sit on and hatch out eggs) and are super-good mamas after the chicks are hatched. Sure makes it a lot easier for us than having to order (and pay for!) day-old chicks and keep them in a brooder in the garage for weeks and weeks (cough-cough, chicken dust all over EVERYTHING) before being able to put them outside. Bantams will sit on just about any egg you put under them. We've had them hatch out full sized chicken eggs and duck eggs. Goose eggs are juuust a bit too big . . . the banty hen keeps falling off them. (Seriously, she doesn't fall off, but there's just not enough little banty body to cover and incubate them sufficiently.)
So you go, Little Mama Bantam. You're earning your keep on this little homestead.
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