mudchute-zfinches-6411

We welcomed Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata) to our aviaries in July and the finches have settled in very well. So well in fact that they have been busy breeding. They have been busing building nests and incubating their eggs. The first of those eggs have now hatched and the eldest chicks are nearly ready to fledge. We are thrilled to be able to share a few photos of the new babies. As they fledge, you may spot them stretching their wings as they build up those flight muscles and taking their first few tentative journeys from the nest.

A tangled nest built at the entrance to the nest box rather than inside!

A tangled nest built at the entrance to the nest box rather than inside!

Still a few feathers to grow.

Still a few feathers to grow.

A bit of baby-down showing, but this chick is fully feathered!

A bit of baby-down showing, but this chick is fully feathered!

Nearly ready for fledging!

Nearly ready for fledging!


This Light Sussex cockerel and Rhode Island Red hens could be the parents of this year's hatching eggs.

This Light Sussex cockerel and Rhode Island Red hens could be the parents of this year’s hatching eggs.

Today saw the start of the 2014 Hatch & Brood programme. Coordinated by our Education and Farm departments, this scheme allows school groups to witness development firsthand in their own classrooms.

This year our hatching eggs come from Tatsfield and are a sex-linked variety, which means cockerels and hens can be distinguished by their feather colour at the time of hatching. The birds are a cross between Rhode Island Red and Light Sussex. This means a Light Sussex sire and Rhode Island Red hen will produce yellow male chicks and brown female chicks, something we hopefully be able to demonstrate for you in three weeks time!

Good luck to all of our participating schools! We’ll keep our fingers crossed for a clutch of happy and healthy chicks!

The parents of this years' Hatch & Brood eggs have plenty of room to roam.

The parents of this years’ Hatch & Brood eggs have plenty of room to roam.

Happy free-range chickens raised on organic breeders pellets.

Happy free-range chickens raised on organic breeders pellets.


This year’s young chicks came to us as hatching eggs from Keith’s Orpingtons and were artificially incubated by local schools as part of Mudchute Education’s Hatch and Brood project. This programme gives children a chance to watch the young chicks develop within the egg and observe the hatching process firsthand, all in their own classrooms. For a glimpse at how chicks develop within the egg, you can see candled eggs here and incredible photos of developing chicken embryos here.

Our new chicks are purebred Bantam Orpingtons, which will show similar characteristics to our Buff Orpingtons, but achieve a smaller adult size. The chicks are a wide range of colours, including lavender and other unusual varieties. We look forward to watching them grow up over the next few weeks and months. You can learn more about the breed from The Orpington Club.

Are you interested in keeping chickens in your backyard? In addition to providing delicious fresh eggs, chickens are excellent at eradicating weeds and pests, can help recycle waste and enrich and fertilise your soil. Here at the farm, we are looking to run an Introduction to Keeping Chickens in the coming months. If you are interested in joining our upcoming courses and finding out more about how you can keep chickens in your own backyard, please get in touch with us at farm_office@mudchute.org.