Chickens: The Hatch

I had planned a garden post before any more chicken ones, but despite my garden being tended to better than it has been in years, I just keep forgetting to take photos.  As it is, the chicks are 5 weeks old this weekend, so I figured I’d better get on with writing about the hatch.

WARNING! Despite taking loads of photos of the chicks throughout this process, the images are mainly crap.  Sorry.  It has a lot to do with my impatience twinned with not using my camera properly and also to do with the fact that chicks don’t like to sit still, so I mostly get photos of chickens’ bums.DSC_0004I was so incredibly impatient in the early stages, much more so than I’d expected to be.  The urge to candle eggs more than I should and then going to listen at the coop for signs of a cheep around hatch day were quite compelling.  The chicks didn’t start to hatch until day 22 and most arrived day 24!!  So much for Pekin eggs hatching early.  I assume it was the cold weather and the girls not sitting well.DSC_0002In the end, I did move all the Pekin Bantam eggs under Audrey (Hepburn, white chuck above).  There were originally 2 x Lavender, 2 x Millefleur and 2 x Frizzled/Cuckoo eggs (bought from Haylor Reach Rare Poultry). One Lavender egg was neglected at the start, so that was binned; then at 10 days, a Cuckoo hadn’t developed so that went and finally, the last Cuckoo egg went bad at 21 days, which you could see as it started to ooze, and had to be taken out before it exploded over the other eggs (it was very nasty, even put into two zip freezer bags it still smelt when I smashed it to see inside, because I am nosy and couldn’t resist – it was pure yellow bacteria filled liquid BTW, no sign of anything else even though it had developed at the 16 day check).  The last three eggs did hatch – hurrah! DSC_0005Greta (Garbo, above) hatched the Orpington Bantam eggs that came from Keith’s Orpington Poultry.  Greta was a much more stable brooder and hatched 4 of the eggs.  One hadn’t developed in the early 7 day check and another egg was binned at 10 days.DSC_0002 (1)Sadly, two of the Orpington chicks tried to mysteriously die early on.  It was after a night of horrific rain and thunder and I suspect that Greta had freaked out and they had been left in the cold.  I managed to save them both by bringing them indoors, warming them up (I genuinely thought they were dead as they were stone cold and stiff, but on closer inspection saw some signs of life) and making a makeshift chick A&E in a basket with my seed warmer mat underneath. DSC_0021But the little grey one then did die a couple of weeks later.  I didn’t try so hard to save it this time, I figured it just wasn’t meant to be.  He/she was F’s favourite 😦DSC_0008F has generally been brilliant with the chicks.  He loves them and spends ages in their cages, it’s been really nice to see him so involved, but then he’s always been great with animals.  DSC_0001I eventually bought a small, low, Omlet Walk in run so he could get inside more easily, as he kept trying to crawl on his belly into the old run to say ‘hello’, which didn’t really work.  It’s ugly, but practical, and I don’t have a lot of money to spend and didn’t have the time or know how to knock up a quick run.  I can move this around on my own and I will, likely, extend it for winter and tuck it under the trees for all the Bantams to live in together, when I’m more organised and can save up the money.  I really like the appeal that it can be easily dismantled, moved, or extended, all of which work well for me.

It’s not easy to see in the photo, but there is a very temporary fence as well, made from just some old rabbit fencing stuck into the ground with garden canes that runs right up to the big glass doors of our kitchen.  It means I can let the chicks and chickens out each day so we can handle them as much as possible, as I’d really like them to be tame.   DSC_0002 (2)This is my new favourite place to sit, I really enjoy chick watching whilst I’m laptop working (lots of shop photos to edit and things to list at the moment) and we often open the doors right up when the sun is shining and the brave chicks come into the house.DSC_0028It’s been a joy hatching out our own eggs.  Hearing the first cheeps and then seeing little heads pop out from between Mum’s feathers is great fun and I really am getting a lot of mileage out of watching them learn life’s lessons from the older chickens.  The big question of what to do with the boys is still looming, but I do have possible homes lined up and I’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.  I can see how these things become addictive, but we’re done for now as this will be my chicken maximum.

The weather over these school holidays has been rather grim, mostly, but we’re due sunshine and high’s tomorrow, so it’ll be all chickens out and all doors open and, hopefully, a BBQ.  Something to look forward too 🙂

 

Advertisements