Saturday, May 19, 2012

Official hatch announcement - seven baby chicks!

Whew--it has been busy over here with the new chicks and they have finally settled in! 

Wednesday, 5/9/12 the eggs started making 'peep' sounds and a couple of them starting moving a little bit as the babies tried to peck open their shells.  On Thursday 5/10/12 (day 20), we had 2 or 3 shells crack and the first baby chick hatched.  It was amazing to see the wet, weak little hatchling bust open the shell, stagger around quickly and blindly, stumble and sumersault!  Within about 24 hours, 7 of the 8 eggs hatched.  Amelia (and a couple of the neighborhood kids) were able to see a couple of them emerge from the shell--we were all so enchanted. 

We kept the little fuzzballs in the incubator more than 24 hours from the time the first one hatched, until all of the chicks became dry and fluffy.  Amelia was anxious to feel them and see them up close.

We set up the brooder in the upstairs bathroom in order to contain the dust that they create with all the scratching.  Lluckily, our housemate, Kristin, will tolerate sharing the bathroom with animals.  We will see how she likes it when they start flying out of the box, right?  The temperature under the heat lamp is supposed to be 95 degrees the first week and reduced by 5 degrees every week thereafter.  This seems about right.

Although we continued to run the incubator for an additional day, the eighth egg showed no movement and no signs of cracking.  Sad.

As it goes, we discovered that the rooster, Ricky Glisten, an Australorp (black with dark glistening green tail feathers), only mated with Amelia's hen, Fern, a Barred Plymouth Rock (basically black and white striped).  There are slight differences between all of the babies, but they are mostly black or dark grey, with cute fuzzy white bottoms, white tips on their wings, and some white on their faces.  They will look totally different (like teenagers...not so cute) when their feathers come in.

How do we find out which chicks are roosters?  Well, the best indicator is the type of feathers, which will not usually show any noticible difference until about 12 weeks.  These are the shank feathers along the bird's side, toward their back end (roosters are pointy, hens are more rounded)  However, other indicators include overall size, spurs, brighter and larger comb, crowing, etc.

We are feeding the babies organic non-medicated feed.  We went with non-medicated because they are offspring from our own hens, and were not exposed to a hatchery environment.  We want to use medication only if absolutely necessary.

Thanks for following our adventure!

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