Offaly hen sets new world record

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karen.ogrady@midlandtribune.ie

A Banagher farmer is entering the Guinness World records for the second time after one of his hens made “history in the poultry world” recently.

John Dolan's hen Sally has had two clutches of live chickens in just 55 days, the latest seeing her deliver 11 live chickens from 12 eggs. Previously, John rose to fame when his famous hen Marmalade entered the Guinness Book of Records having hatched an astonishing 107 chicks in two years before her death in February. Marmalade's largest single clutch was 16 but she regularly delivered five clutches a year.

Marmalade's daughter Little Chip then came along earlier this year and caused another stir, having 20 chicks hatched from 26 eggs laid at the first attempt.

Speaking on local radio earlier this week, John said Sally's new record of two clutches in just 55 days will never be broken. So with three incredible hens over the last few years, John, of Gurtagown, Banagher could well be labelled 'the hen whisperer'.

John was over the moon with Sally's latest feat and is following the footsteps of his other prized hen, Marmalade. John reckoned, however, that Sally hadn't quite beaten Marmalade yet. Despite her recent successes, there's some way to go.

Sally was born on March 10, 2017. Her mother was Ruby Junior, who drank out of the Sean Robbins Cup that St Rynagh's won after a 21 year long wait in Simon Lyon's pub in Banagher. She hatched her first clutch of 12 chicks in October 2017 and three more in 2018 and John has had a breed of Sally's line since 1980 and all belonging to her were world class hens for hatching.

Speaking on Tuesday last, John outlined how Sally hatched 15 chickens on January 15 last and then she went on to hatch another 14 chicks on May 2. John continued Sally stayed with these chicks for 21 days and then she started laying again, unknown to John. According to the Banagher farmer, she laid in the hay shed on Sunday, June 4. “I realised something wasn't right about her after she went up into the loft and looked like a hen that had left the chicks,” he said.

John then moved the chicks born in May under the heat lamp and they noticed that Sally had hatched again with the latest clutch of chicks arriving on June 25 and 26. “This was her second clutch in 55 days, which is absolutely remarkable,” he enthused.

John admitted he knew straight away it would be a world record and he can't see this record being broken any time soon because it's “phenomenal”. “She only stayed with them [the chicks] for 21 days and then she went back laying again. Usually, a hen will stay with the chicks for three or four months before going back laying.” In his opinion, the rooster must have gotten at Sally no more then three to four days after she hatched the chicks in May.

Talking about Marmalade, John said it was hard to know if Sally would be able to break her record. “I believe Sally's record wouldn't be broken because of the distance between the two clutches whereas Marmalade hatched 18 clutches in a row without stopping. In order for the hens to be equal, Sally would have to keep hatching for the next two years in order to beat Marmalade and I don't see that happening,” he concluded. John later told the Tribune he believed Sally will hatch a further five clutches this year, which will in fact equal Marmalade.

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