Counting your chickens…
One Tatton Park mother has been busy counting her chickens … and her ducklings.
A broody black silkie hen called Indigo has recently hatched three ducklings and three chicks at Home Farm, on the historic estate in rural Cheshire East.
Indigo was not able to hatch her own chicks, as there wasn’t a suitable silkie cockerel at the farm to partner her with. But, such was Indigo’s mothering instinct, farm staff hatched a plan to let her sit on three call duck eggs. A week later, she was given three hen’s eggs to keep warm when their mother abandoned them. All six eggs then hatched on the same day two weeks ago.
The plucky six have been enjoying the recent sunshine and staying close to ‘mum’. Indigo is proving to be a loving and attentive mother and is really enjoying clucking over her mixed brood.
The silkie is a beautiful breed, known for its voluminous fluffy plumage, which is very soft, or silky to the touch. Unusually, silkies have dark blue flesh and bones and five toes on each foot, rather than the more common four. The hens are known to be very broody and make calm, patient mothers.
Indigo will be looking after the brood over the next few weeks. The chicks will mature at 20 weeks and the ducklings at 10 weeks. Farm staff are looking forward to seeing how she will look after this unusual brood, who consider themselves siblings. Trouble may be afoot when the ducklings want to start venturing into water!
Farm assistant Alex Logan said: “Indigo has been doing an excellent job keeping the pecking order and making sure her chicks and ducklings stay safe. The striking six are making quite a stir and drawing a lot of attention from our visitors.”
The poultry are one of the most popular attractions at the rare breed farm. Ducks, such as Indian runner and call ducks, live amicably alongside more than a dozen British and international poultry breeds, including gold sebrights, brahmas and buff orpingtons.
Home Farm is open in high season (until Sunday, October 30) from Tuesday to Sunday from noon-5pm (last entry 4pm).
Adult £5, child £3 (five-15 years), family £13 (two adults and up to three children). Totally Tatton tickets (entry to mansion, gardens and farm): adult £8, child £4, family £20. Group discounts for 12 or more people available if booked in advance. National Trust members pay 50 per cent entry to the farm. Park entry charge of £5 per car applies.
Please visit our website www.tattonpark.org.uk or call 01625 374400 for more information.