Saturday, April 19, 2014

hatching chicks, candling chicks, happy niece

I successfully hatched some eggs for my  niece.  Sort of.  Here's the story.  I acquired (thank you DD) a small digital incubator that is digitally controlled.  I still need to  turn the eggs but, it controls the temp and most important... the humidity.  I chose my eggs carefully and treated them with all due respect.  I was all ready to  put them in the incubator and begin when we discovered that one of the wyandottes  had gone broody and was sitting on a nest behind the barn.  We couldn't have that because she was out in the open and exposed to predators.  So we cut all the foliage with clippers (she buried herself good) Moved her and the eggs to a safe location and of course the broody fell off of her then.  She was sitting on 18 eggs , half of which were muddy  and not in good condition.  So, I took seven of the best, disinfected them and put them in the incubator.  At about day 8 the incubator began to stink...STINK.  I took out all the eggs and candled them.  One was not fertilized at all and had gone rotten  from the high temps.  I discarded it  and put the others back in.    At 14 days I candled again.  I was pretty sure I was doing it wrong because I couldn't see into the egg. It was too dark.  I learned later that I couldn't see because of the chicks inside.  Early in the morning ,the day before hatching was supposed to happen, I went to the kitchen to get my  injection of coffee and heard peeping sounds coming from  the table in the corner.  There inside the incubator lay one glorious, wet and exhausted chick.   I panicked because I didn't have my brooder together yet  and had nothing to feed them.  I grabbed Jimmy and we flew to the feed store to get supplies.   We were home by 9 am.  There was no need for panic because chick #2 didn't show up til 1 pm and #3  came along at almost 5 pm.  #4  wouldn't make an appearance until 7 am the next morning.   Something was wrong with #3 .  She had a flat spot on the side of her head and she didn't dry out and try to walk for over twenty four hours.    Once inside the brooder we felt sorry for her as the other chicks  stepped on  her, rolled on her, rolled her over, bumped her and moved her around .  We expected to wake up to a dead bird on day 3 but, when we checked on her in the morning she was dry, walking unsteadily and eating and drinking with the help of the other chicks.  She wobbled around for about three days and we thought she was going to make it.  Then one afternoon she just lay down and stopped breathing. 
The other two eggs in the incubator never hatched. I gave them three extra days and  when they started to smell I knew it was the end.  Before discarding them I opened the eggs to see what happened.  They were the equivalent of breech birth.  Their little heads were at the wrong end of the egg where there was no air.  Out of 6 fertilized eggs, I got three chicks.  I'm sure I would have had better results if I had gone with my original 7 eggs instead of   deciding to go with the eggs the hen was sitting on in the bushes.
When they were 6 days old I sent them to my niece via DD who was a sweetheart  about transporting them for me.  She lightly commented on how she didn't want her pristine car to smell like mine.  Yes, my car smells of livestock, feed, vegetables and dirt .  Its why I drive my 14 year old workhorse.   I don't cringe when stuffing a load of lumber  through the trunk into the back seat or when I'm hauling a quarter cord of firewood or when I have so many  bags of planting soil in my car that I scrape bottom  going over speed bumps.
Upon arrival my niece was delighted and promptly named them all.  I got a call from  the Brother- in- law the next day telling me two of the chicks were cocks. He kept repeating the word "Cocks".  I think he enjoyed using a word that in any other context would be considered profanity.  I could hear the grin in his voice every time he said it.    I assured him they were too young to tell yet.  He was insistent because two of them are larger and have different coloring.  I let him have his way and said  'fine, I just gave you two chicken dinners!".  He then related that he wanted Rhode Island Reds.  That I have!  This Easter Sunday he will be taking possession of three laying hens.   

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