We had an interesting event occur here today. About a week ago I checked on an old hidden nest and found my Speckled Sussex, Kiwi, setting there. I presumed that she had just recently began her set. I've been giving all my broodies goose eggs to incubate, so that night I moved Kiwi aside, removed all the chicken eggs from underneath her, placed a double handful of straw in the hollow, and put 4 goose eggs on that. Kiwi stepped right back on this new nest and settled herself over the eggs.
This hidden nest was made under the top half of a plastic dog house set on the bare ground. For security I placed a heavy bucket of rocks on the top and would secure a piece of wire grating across the opening each night. I usually move my broodies into their own cages but this seemed secure enough.
But the problem with this set-up was the inevitability that I'd forget to secure the door at night, since it was located across the yard from the rest of the poultry. And last night was that night.
I discovered that error this morning when I went to check on her. I looked inside the half-house and at first nothing looked different. Then I noticed a bunch of large feathers on the ground next to Kiwi. When I lifted her off the nest I saw that one of the goose eggs was missing, there were only 3 left in her nest.
Then I heard... peeping! Back in the corner was a newly-hatched chick!
It was now time to pull out my junior detective kit and play CSI: Poultry.
It must have been a 'possum that stole the goose egg, a raccoon would have killed & eaten the hen. I found the egg shell broken in half and all the contents removed. Perhaps not a very big 'possum because it was satisfied with only 1 egg. And Kiwi must have been setting for 3 weeks already when I found her on this nest. And apparently I did not remove all the chicken eggs, one must have been left in the corner where I couldn't see it. And somehow continued to receive the warmth it needed to continue to develop. But that's so surprising, because that night I had picked Kiwi up, set her to the side, removed the eggs I saw, placed straw down, goose eggs on that, and replaced the hen. How did that chicken egg get up into the nest?
We debated what to do next, take the chick and brood it alone ourselves and have Kiwi continue to incubate the goose eggs? Or move Kiwi & the chick into a pen together and abandon the goose eggs?
For Kiwi's sake I decided to take her off the nest and stay with the chick. Because she has already been setting for 4 weeks, I didn't want to make her set for an additional 3 weeks. And as much as we love our goslings, there's no guarantee I will be able to find buyers for them all. I set a live trap with one of the remaining goose eggs in hopes of catching whatever stole the egg last night. Hopefully Kiwi will go broody again, it's rare that one of my large hens wants to set, it's usually the bantams who like to brood. I love having a great big hen set on a large number of eggs and have a bunch of babies hatch for her to tend