Early Arrivals

I have eggs in the incubator, due to hatch this Saturday. I started with 32 eggs; when I candled at 10 days I took six eggs out, leaving 26 in the incubator.  Last night I went to take them out of the automatic egg turner, because you are supposed to remove that about 3 days before hatching, so that the chicks can orient themselves for hatching, and because the turner could hurt them if they hatched in it.

incubator eggs
Here they are after taking them out of the automatic turner. I tried to put them in groups based on where the eggs came from. They are marked as well so I can keep track of which eggs hatched.

As I was moving the eggs, I heard “Cheep Cheep!” I thought that was a little early, but I was excited to hear that at least someone was on their way.

This morning, I heard a really loud peep from the next room, and went to check. I found a chick had hatched! On day 19! Here is a really bad picture (the flash went off and shined on the top of the incubator):

new hatchee
Here was the chick that I found this morning

I’ve never had chicks hatch early – I’ve only hatched chicks a few times, and it’s been awhile, but I didn’t realize they could come that early.  I came home and found that the one had brought a friend; we now have two chicks. They are both comfortable in the brooder, waiting for more friends to arrive.

Here is one – a little penguin-looking chick.
Here is one that is a little red and brown. I believe this is the first one that hatched this morning.

I haven’t heard any other pips yet, but they aren’t actually due for two more days. So we’ll see what happens. I’m glad that two hatched so the chicks aren’t lonely. There are still 24 eggs in the incubator, so we should get some more soon.

More chicks are here!

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:

start of hatch
Here you can see some little chicks amongst the eggs. This picture was taken this morning. We had one completely hatched last night, and three in there by this morning.
first hatched
Here is another pic from this morning. You can see a little head peeking out under the large yellow incubator fan.
Large brooder
Here is the large brooder box – I was going to mix everyone together, but tonight I decided to rethink that. The new chicks are a lot smaller than these three week olds, so I will wait until the newbies are all running around to see if we can mix them. They have their own large box.
Here are some new babies!
chick fuzz
More pictures of the babies.
chick view
More chicks
chicks 2
Cute little gray and brown chicks – you can see the feathered legs on this brown bantam.
feathered legs
More feathered legs.
gray chicks
A gray chick
tiny chicks
A tiny bantam in the foreground.
larger chicks 2
Here are the older chicks – 3 weeks old now.
larger chicks
Here they are again. I’m worried they are too large to meet the babies for awhile. We’ll see.


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.

Test hatch day 2

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:

second hatchling
Here is the first chick from last night, standing up at the top of the pic; and the 2nd chick, half hanging out of its shell.


Here is our little blondie chick. It had just hatched here.


chicks 3
Here they are in the brooder box.
chicks 2
Brooder box of chicks.
tiny chicks in the brooder
They are all very cute.

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.

Test Hatch Chicks!

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).

bit o cracked shell
Hard to see, but the middle egg here has some broken shell on the bottom – this is what one of the eggs looked like when I got home.
out pops the chick
The chick stretched and stretched, and broke through.  Once it seemed really determined to get out I think it took it maybe 5-10 minutes till it popped out.
The chick is very tired, and keeps wandering around the incubator and then passing out for a bit, then peeping, then moving around again.  He / she will take a while to dry off.
Here the egg just above the white one has a hole – this is our other Pipping egg  – I have been hearing that chick peep also, and a tiny beak keeps coming out, so I expect this one to hatch in the next few hours or so.  On the left you can see the egg that the first chick hatched from.
wandering 2
Tiny chick – its eyes have been opening a bit too, but she is still so sleepy.  I think I will wait till we have at least 2 hatched before moving them to a brooder box. 

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.

Peepers the lone chick

My chick Peepers
My chick Peepers

We wanted to get more chickens. My uncle gave me a really old incubator, that I believe was my Grandma’s.  I remember her hatching chicks when I was a very small child, so this thing is very, very old.  We attempted to hatch 11 eggs, and started incubating them at the end of December.  A day later, we realized one of our hens was being broody – she was sitting in a nesting box and wouldn’t come out when we were in there, even for treats.  I found out she was sitting on 2 eggs.

Eggs take about 21 days to hatch.  Around day 15, our incubator stopped working – the temperature should be around 99 to 100 degrees, and it was at 70 degrees. I tried fiddling with it and couldn’t get it to work.  So I candled the eggs to see if there was anything in them, figured out 5 were empty, and took the other 6 eggs and put them under my broody hen.

On the 22nd day since I started the incubation, I went in the morning to feed the chickens and heard peeping under the hen.  I took her out and saw one completely opened shell, but no chick.  I looked around their coop and found a dead chick across the room – I don’t know if it fell out and the other chickens killed it, or if it died because it was cold, or what exactly happened (I know they moved it, because there is no way it would have moved there on its own at that age).  I went back to the nest box and found the peeping sound was coming from an egg that was pipping  – pipping is where the chick is just starting to come out – they’ve made a hole in the egg.  I didn’t want it to hatch and get killed so I didn’t want to leave it under her.  I took that egg, and left the rest in under the hen, since they didn’t show any signs of hatching yet.

I had set up a box for the chicks in my house, and I put that pipping egg in the box under a heat lamp.  I opened the shell a tiny bit more, but figured the chick needs to do it on their own, so I left the egg there. Then I had to leave for work.

That night, I got home and the chick hadn’t made any progress, and I was worried because it looked like the egg was drying to his (her?) body where the heat lamp had dried it.  I helped the chick out of the egg the rest of the way, and started rubbing him to wake him up more.  He peeped a bit and seemed to be alive and healthy, but still needing help. I was worried the heat lamp may not be warm enough, but my body temperature is about what an incubator should be so I just held him the rest of the night in my hand while he fluffed up. He was doing well by the end of the night, and would even drink a little water.

I named him Peepers.  None of the other eggs hatched, and a couple days later I opened them all to see – the two the hen had originally sat on were not fertilized, and all the others either had dead chicks in them or were half developed or just gross old eggs. So Peepers is all alone.  I have a toy chick in his box with him and he seems to like his “friend,” and he’s been growing well.  He’s now 2 weeks old.

Peepers and friend
Peepers and his toy chick friend.

I probably won’t know what sex Peepers is until he’s an adult. I found out a way to see based on length of wing feathers, but you have to look when they are a day old, and that has passed. I heard that at industrial chicken farms they squeeze the chicks to see what sex parts come out (I guess a rooster will have more of a nub or something) but I wouldn’t want to hurt him.  I’m hoping he’s actually a she, because I don’t really need another rooster, but we’ll see what happens.

We still would like more chickens, so we will need to buy a new incubator soon.  For now I just have my little pal Peepers.