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Thursday 20 September 2018

Offaly farmer believes his 'hen whispering' has helped hen hatch astonishing 107 chicks in two years

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
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

A Co Offaly farmer whose hen has hatched an astonishing 107 chickens in two years believes a combination of breeding, ‘hen whispering’ and porridge has made his prize hen a formidable force of nature.

John Dolan, (49), who runs a mixed farm near Banagher, Co Offaly, said his hen Marmalade – a half bred Red Mottled hen – deserves to be in the Guinness Book of Records for her remarkable ability to churn out chicks.

Since she was born more than three years ago, Marmalade has never stopping hatching.

“There’ll never be another like her in the world,” he told Independent.ie.

“This year she had ten clutches (of chicks) in two years which is absolutely phenomenal,” he said.

“This will never happen again.”

The married father-of-one said good breeding – from decades of breeding hens on the family farm since the 1970s – has produced a super hen, whose plucky love of life shows no sign of abating.

She even survived a car crash last St Patrick’s Day en route to the parade in nearby Tullamore, he said.

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He also swears by her diet – a combination of Flahavan’s porridge which he feeds her in the morning and Liffey Oats.

He also thinks his words of encouragement go a long way.

“I’m a hen whisperer,” he said.

“I talk to her every day. I told her she is making history and she looked up at me and almost gave me a wink,” he said.

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