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Friday 18 January 2019

Could Marmalade the hen lay her way into the Guinness Book of Records?

John Dolan and daughter Emma, with their hen who delivered 11 chicks at his farm in Banagher, Co Offaly this week. Photograph: James Flynn/APX
John Dolan and daughter Emma, with their hen who delivered 11 chicks at his farm in Banagher, Co Offaly this week. Photograph: James Flynn/APX
FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

A Co Offaly hen could make it into the Guinness Book of Records, after it hatched out a whopping 54 chicks in five separate clutches - all within the space of 12 months.

Marmalade is a half-bred Red Mottled hen, owned by John Dolan near Banagher, Co. Offaly.

He has been breeding hens since the 1970s and is over the moon with the performance of marmalade.

"She had her first clutch on January 13 this year when she hatched out seven chickens. The next clutch was born on April 29 with 11 chickens. Then on July 17 she had another 16 chickens and September 25 she had nine more.

"Then she laid again November 22 - 14 eggs and she has sat on them since then. Over the last two days the eggs have hatched and 12 chicks have survied.

"The brings the total to 54 chickens from one hen inside one calendar year," he said.

Marmalade with some of her new chicks. Picture: James Flynn/APX
Marmalade with some of her new chicks. Picture: James Flynn/APX

According to Dolan, there are several generations of blood line in his the two-and-a-half year old hen Marmalade.

"They are bred to lay eggs and hatch. We sell the pullets locally and we have chickens all year around. We'd have around 13 hens, and 12 pullets," he said.

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"We rang the Guinness Book of Records and there is no record yet for the most clutches from a hen in a year and we hope this hen gets the recognition she deserves."

The average hen would hatch once or twice a year, he said and the Red Mottled hen is not bred for hatching, more for laying eggs.

Porridge

John says his wife Anne and daughter Emma also deserves a huge amount of credit as they also helped care for the hen and all the chicks.

"Marmalade is fed Flahavan's porridge in the morning and the chickens then they go to chick crumb when they are a month old.

"After a month she goes onto barley and wheat and is eating with the rest of the fowl. They also get some potato scraps and oranges and bananas.

"She is in such good health. She has never lost her weight, despite the amount of time sitting on eggs."

"There is a world record there for 16 years of hatching, but it has to be taking its toll on her. If we got five or six years out of her it would be great but we'd expect her to live till 10 or 11 at least," he said.

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