Martha has kept chickens for more than a decade, and this summer she welcomed the arrival of a whole new crop of chicks. Only three days old when she first got them, Martha's Cuckoo Marans, Mottled Cochins, and Porcelains have grown into strong, healthy chickens.
Chickens lay eggs when they are between 20 and 24 weeks old. A hen will lay an egg every day whether or not a male is around; on average, they lay about five eggs a week. If the hen sits on her egg, it will take 21 days after fertilization for the egg to hatch. It is important to collect eggs often, otherwise hens will continue sitting on the eggs and stop laying them, a phenomenon known as "going broody."
Cuckoo Maran chickens were developed in Maran, France, and take their name from the region. Generally big-bodied males, Cuckoo Marans are a good, hearty breed that are also known as the "Chocolate Egger" because their eggs are dark brown.
Mottled Cochin chickens are native to China. Good mothers, they are very protective of their young and have feathers all the way down to their feet.
Extremely gentle and tame birds, Porcelain chickens have a base color of pale blue and feathers tipped in white, making them one of the prettiest chicks at the hatchery. With feathers all the way down to their feet, they lay eggs of an off-white shade.
Find out more about Martha's chickens in the September/October 2007 Martha Stewart Newsletter. Martha got her chicks from Bud Wood of Murray McMurray Hatchery. Chick eggs were provided by Ideal Poultry Breeding Farms Inc.