I counted our baby rabbits tonight. Wind (our white Californian) had 10 live babies! Fire, our black Rex, had 7 total – 2 died the other day, but we counted 5 alive this evening. Wind’s babies are all different colors. Some are naked pink, some are black, and some are spotted.
For the chicks – we are still mid-hatch, and we are up to 22 hatched out of 42. I don’t see any more pipping at the moment, but from how this hatch has been going I’m not worried. Today was their due date, and they started hatching 2 days ago so I’m going to give any stragglers until Saturday night. So far we’ve gotten 11 Marans, 5 Easter/olive eggers, three bantams and three from our home grown eggs. Here are some updated pictures of our newest fuzzballs:
Our main hatch is due tomorrow – 42 eggs in the incubator. Our chicks started hatching last night. So far we have 8 in the brooder, and another one was just hatched a few minutes ago. There are a few more pipping now. So far, we’ve had 3 bantams, 3 easter eggers, and 3 of our homegrown eggs hatch. There is a maran that is half hatched as of the last time I looked. Here are some pictures:
Also, my rabbits have both had their litters – they were born yesterday and last night. I have not counted them yet so I don’t know how many each had. So we have lots of babies on our farm at the moment.
Our test hatch (or batch 1) chicks turned two weeks old today. They are doing well, and getting bigger. They are a little skittish. Also, one of them is Escape Artist’s child. Just like mom, this one, at less than 2 weeks old, figured out he can fly and perch on the brooder box. I have now been using a window screen to cover the box. We have to cover/uncover pretty slowly so the chicks don’t freak out when we go to clean out the brooder or feed/water them.
I attempted to take some pictures today – when I say I attempted, I mean that I was able to take them, but the pictures are not very good. The chicks did not want to cooperate very much, and I think they were a bit close up, since I had to hold the chicks so I didn’t have to go find them if I set them down. The brooder is in our spare bedroom and I can just imagine them taking off somewhere under the bed and us not being able to get them before they poop everywhere. Here are some (somewhat fuzzy) pictures of our chicks:
I love watching them grow up – it’s fun to speculate about what they will look like as adults, but with mixed breeds there is not really any way to know until their feathers are all in. I like having a bunch of different colors/looks of chicken. It helps us tell them apart also.
We had an extremely busy day (well, evening). First I worked all day at my job. Then I drove for an hour to meet with this lady to buy some hatching eggs! For our large hatch we are using some from our own chickens, but I saw an ad on craigslist for hatching eggs of Black Copper Marans and Olive/Easter Eggers. I went and met with her today and got a bunch of hatching eggs. She threw in some Bantam eggs. I’m not sure how that will go, since bantams are so small. Their eggs are very tiny. She said they should do fine mixed with regular sized chickens though. Here are the cool hatching eggs – you will see why I wanted them:
I got home after my egg-adventure, and the ducks, who are STILL in the house for tonight, needed a bath very badly. We are planning on getting them outside tomorrow – my hubby is off so he said he’d start getting their temporary outside housing set up, and I’ll help get them in there tomorrow when I get home. But with this bathtime, I finally got some pictures of the blow-drying ducks:
One other thing, actually kind of frustrating, that happened today – I ordered a bunch of trees and fruit plants this year (raspberries, strawberries, elderberries, etc) – I got a notice that they already shipped last week – We still have snow here, although it is supposed to warm up this week and stay warmer (fingers crossed). My plants came today. Which means I had to figure out what to do with them/get them set up. I’ve been saving milk jugs for most of the winter, so that I didn’t have to buy buckets or large pots. I plan on keeping most things in pots for a year or two, so we can keep them safe from deer and the lawn mower. Some things were dormant but most said to plant right away. Here are my new plants, all dressed up and nowhere really to go yet:
Oh, and also – an update on my test hatch. It turned out that of the last 4 eggs, 2 were duds (I candled last night finally, and they were completely empty). The other two had chicks that never came out. I opened them tonight and they were dead. I gave them till tonight to start pipping but there was nothing. So, of the actual fertile eggs, I ended up with about a 2/3 hatch success – 4 out of 6 eggs hatched. Those 4 chicks are doing very well. I cleaned and disinfected the incubator and set it to dry. I am not sure if I will start the “real” hatch tomorrow or Friday night. I will have to see how much work moving the ducks tomorrow night is.
After my post last night we had two more chicks hatch, and then another one this morning. There are four eggs left with no signs of hatching yet. Today is day 21 though (their actual due date) so I will give them some more time. Probably another 24-48 hours – if I don’t see any signs of pipping by another 24 hours I may give up. If they start to hatch before then I will let them hatch all the way. Here are some more pictures:
The chicks are so cute – I really like the little blondie one – I’m trying to figure out who everyone’s parents are. I know the smallest black one, that hatched this morning, is the baby of Escape Artist (my hen who lays white eggs). The other two black ones must have Australorp mothers, since they have black coloring. The blonde one I have no idea – it most likely is not my white hens (or not much genetic material from them) because it would be more yellow – yellow fuzz translates to white feathers as an adult, usually. I don’t have any other very light adults, besides my splash maran and my brahmas, but this chick does not have feathered legs. I will just have to wait and see how they look as adults.
I’m doing a small test hatch (8 eggs) before doing my “real” hatch next weekend – we want to hatch around 50 chicks, so we will end up with a few more with my test hatch. My eggs went in 3/22 – they were due to start hatching tomorrow. Yesterday we took the automatic turner out of the incubator, so the eggs can get ready to hatch.
I heard some peeping last night, and noticed a little poked hole in one. This morning there was a little more of a hole, and more peeping. I got home this evening to 2 pipping eggs (Pipping is where the chick is starting to break through).
So far I think my test hatch is going well. I’ll give it a couple more days. I’m hoping to get at least 6 out of this batch of 8 eggs, in order to feel like I had a good hatch rate. I have not candled them though, so I will just have to wait and see if they all are viable.
I got an incubator this year, so that I can hatch some new chickens. I wanted one that I could hatch 50 eggs in. I originally was planning on buying a Brinsea – they have a nice 50-egg model, but it’s like $500-$600. That ended up being out of my budget. I went on the Backyard Chickens forums, and some people were recommending the Hova-bator Genesis 1588. It ended up being a little over $200 – I bought an automatic egg turner with it. It’s got digital settings for heat and it’s easy to set the humidity. With the egg turner we can just set it and not mess with it very often.
My plan was to start hatching in mid-April, so that we would have warm enough outside temps by the time the chicks come that they wouldn’t be brooding in the house very long. I opened up the incubator box last week to make sure the thing works, and to set it up. The incubator comes preset to the correct temperatures, and for humidity you just put water into certain water channels inside it, depending on what humidity level you need. It came with very clear instructions. While reading, I found that they recommend you do a test hatch first, with a small number of eggs, to make sure you don’t need to tweak anything before you try hatching a bunch of eggs, or expensive eggs. It turns out that we have time to do a test hatch.
I grabbed 8 eggs this week and they are sitting in the incubator. They should hatch April 12th. Here they are in the incubator:
So far the temp has been hovering in the 99.5-99.8 degree range, which I believe is a good level. We will see if we need to tweak it depending on how this hatch goes. If all goes well I will do my large hatch after April 12th. I will be hatching eggs from our chickens, and I also found someone near here that has Black Copper Maran (chocolate shelled eggs) and Olive Egger eggs for sale – I spoke with them and they said they should have some in mid April that I can buy. We also have a friend who has Easter Eggers (blue eggs), and he’s going to save some eggs for me for that week as well. I’m excited to possibly get some hens that lay other colors of eggs.
I feel like we are a baby bird factory. With the ducks we are brooding, and now chicks in the incubator, and another (larger) batch of chicks later, we are very busy.
Our ducks are growing very fast. We’ve had them a week as of today. I believe they have doubled in size. I have changed their brooder box 4 times – the first two times because they needed more room, and the last two because they are slobs. We’ve been using cardboard boxes, two taped together, with plastic garbage bags taped around the bottom (to keep the floor dry). Ducks love to play in their water. A lot. I was using a chick waterer at first, and then I devised a waterer using a disposable tupperware container – I cut holes in the lid so they can get their bills in, but not step in the water. The waterer is sitting on a plastic tray in the brooder box. The ducks still manage to get everything soaked. They get water out with their bill, and then dibble it all over each other, and the plastic tray, and then they splash in the plastic tray. So then their bedding (we’re using paper towels) gets soaked. And they poop a lot just like chickens. So we are changing bedding a few times a day. I think I will enjoy the chicks more this time because they are not as messy as the ducks. Chicks poop a lot but they don’t play in their water nearly as much.
Here are some newer pictures of the ducks, I think they were upset I was taking pictures here, I woke them up from a nap and they were freaking out a little.
I meant to do an update on my smallest batch of chicks, showing how each one changed from one week to now; but I moved them outside before I could do that update. I don’t want to traumatize them by catching them all – it’s harder to do once they are out in the coop. I went to their coop with my camera and they were very curious; I think they were hopeful that I had some treats for them. Here are some cool pictures of the babies – they are now 6 weeks old.
They are getting big. I’m a little more able to tell what kind they are. A few of them I’m still not so sure (even with the “teenager” chicks I still have no idea, and they are pretty much adults).
As you can see in some of the pictures above, my adult ladies were watching the photo shoot, wondering if I had any treats for them as well. Here they are:
My “teen” chicks were inside the coop eating instead of watching the photo shoot, so I didn’t get pictures of them today. They have been getting along better with the adults, but they still keep to themselves as a group instead of mingling with the adult hens.
My art-room / spare bedroom has been a chick brooder since January of this year. The weather is warmer and I’ve decided I’ve had enough – my smallest chicks (one month old) have most of their feathers, and it’s been getting warmer lately. I wouldn’t be in such a rush but the escape artist has taught the others to escape – I’ve changed them to 3 different brooder boxes, each one taller, and they keep getting out and pooping everywhere. I’ve been thinking about ways to get them outside permanently.
I’ve had my older chicks (2.5 months old) outside for about a month, but separated from my adult chickens. They could see and hear each other, but not interact. We decided to try to integrate them, in order to bring the smaller chicks outside – I planned on putting the big chicks with the adults, and then putting the babies in the separate part that the older chicks had been in. I’ve heard to try to do it at bedtime, so they don’t really realize what’s going on, in order to keep the transition smoother. We did not do this for some reason. A few hours before I put them in for the night, we put the six 2.5 month olds in with the ten adults. They are very nearly the same size.
It was a mess. My poor chicks were traumatized. I figured my rooster would be the main culprit, but my hens were really mean. I know that they need to work out their pecking order, and it can take some time. First it was like two cliques – adult birds on one end of the run, the chicks on the other. Then somehow a couple chicks got separated and my hens started chasing them and trying to mount them, I guess. Then the chicks were in two groups of three. I went inside for a few minutes to let them work it out. I came back out and heard loud squawking. I found one of the chicks cowering in a corner of the run, trying to get back into their old run. It ended up with the chicks hiding inside a corner of the coop, and all the adults hanging out in the run. I was going to just let them sort it out, but I felt really bad. My chicks were really scared – one even kept losing feathers – I don’t know if it was from stress or from being pecked by the hens. I figured we will have to integrate them eventually, and they’ll work it out.
Then I brought the small one month old chicks out to the newly empty temporary coop/run. They were very happy out in the run. I wondered how they would get on with the older chicks, and if it would be better to integrate THEM right now, and then put all the chicks in with the adults later once everyone is the same size. I tried bringing the older chicks back in, one by one, and putting them out in the run with the tiny chicks
It seemed to go a lot better. The 2.5 month olds are quite a bit bigger than the 1 month old chicks, and they have been picking on them a bit, but they’re not obsessed with them like the adults seemed to be with the older chicks. If the small chicks stay away from the older ones, they don’t get pecked at all. The small chicks don’t seem too stressed, anyway.
I had a couple of issues when putting them in for the night though – first, the little chicks had no idea what was going on. I have to get them trained to go in at night (usually I clap and follow the chickens in, the older ones have learned this pretty well) – so they didn’t go into the coop on their own when I did this. I picked them up, put them inside, and then a couple of them ran outside but their run was open so they ran into the yard. I had to catch them – that wasn’t too hard.
My biggest issue when putting them to bed was that the older chicks were hanging out right under the heat lamp, which was in the corner of the coop. The baby chicks found a nice spot on a pile of hay that they liked, since it was far away from the older chicks, but that wasn’t close to the heat lamp, and I worry about it getting cold at night if they can’t access the lamp. My husband was smart and just moved the heat lamp to the middle of the room for me – so that problem got solved. I also gave the babies some straw to go on their hay pile, because hay is NOT very soft, at least compared to straw. I put the water and food a bit more in the middle, so that the babies wouldn’t have to go too near to the older chicks to eat or drink, and risk getting picked on. We checked on them through the night before we went to bed, and they were doing ok.
This morning I went out, and the poor little babies were huddled in their corner. It got into the 30s last night, and while the heat lamp makes the inside of the coop quite a bit warmer than the outside temps, they were still pretty cold. They were doing ok, but the big chicks kept going over to them and pecking them, just in the time I was out there this morning to let them all out. The big chicks were also hanging out under the heat lamp in the middle, so the little guys couldn’t go over to the heat light, or the food and water without getting pecked. So I got fed up, and stuck the big chicks in with the adults again, and said “you are all just going to have to figure it out. ”
The babies are now doing good. The larger chicks are hiding out in the coop, but the food and water are in there, so they will be ok if they decide not to go outside today with the adults. Like I said, they are almost adult sized, so they should be a lot better able to defend themselves against the adults, than the tiny chicks are with them. They’ll just have to work it out on their own. I didn’t realize it would be this much of a mess to integrate them all.