New Chicks Arrived As Expected

Baby chicks from Hoover Hatchery

New Home Hatched Chicks for May 2018

Home Hatched - Hen and day old baby chicks

As expected, the broody hen started hatching right on time.

May 6th was the first hatch date, and the rest hatched out by the 8th, though the last one might have been the night of the 7th.

Of the 10 eggs she started with, 9 hatched.  The last one candled okay, but never made it to hatch out.

The Hoover Hatchery Chicks Arrive

Hoover Hatchery Chicks arrive.

Yes, we all know babies come from the Post Office, just like the chickens.

Well, like some of our chickens.  The order from Hoover Hatchery arrived.

Just as the home hatched chicks arrived on the expected date, so did the hatchery chicks.  All 15 chicks were lively and healthy when we picked them up.

And just so darn cute.

Our chicken flock just increased by 24 new baby chicks.

Baby chicks from Hoover Hatchery

Baby Chicks Coming for Spring of 2018

Early to mid-May we should be hearing the sound of new baby chicks.

One of the Buff Orpington hens has decided to go broody.  She is set on 10 eggs.  The first day she began to set was April 16th, a Monday.  I picked her up, and of course she pecked me pretty hard several times, but she has done this before and once her displeasure was made known, she was fine.

I removed the ceramic and goose eggs being used as nest eggs from her nest box, and replaced them with other eggs that were in nearby nest boxes the other hens had laid that same morning.  I marked a large X on those eggs with a pencil in several places as I know some of the other hens will push their way into her box and lay their egg with hers.  The barred rock hens are particularly pushy in getting their egg in the nest box with a broody hen.

Welsummer eggs are pretty easy to tell apart from the other hens eggs we have, and in particular, we wanted to promote that breed a bit as we have Welsummer roosters.  So I added the two Welsummer eggs we had to her box.  In all, 9 eggs for her to sit on.

The hen stayed broody all night, so Tuesday afternoon, I again lifted her from her nest, and removed the extra unmarked egg from the nest, and added another Welsummer egg and marked it with an O so I would know it was a day later than the others when hatch time comes.

We expect she will hatch her eggs on May 7th or 8th.

So just to keep things interesting, we ordered some new baby chicks from Hoover Hatchery in Iowa.  We have ordered from them before, last November, when we sent some from there to our granddaughter in Mississippi so she could start her flock.  She has had great success with all her chicks, many of which have just started laying eggs this past week.

Hoover Hatchery also does not charge shipping, so the total order cost is much more affordable than the order we placed with Cackle Hatchery, where we have ordered most of our chickens.  Cackle Hatchery is in Lebanon, Missouri, and is pretty close to us compared to most other hatcheries.

So our order this time is for some White Jersey Giants, unsexed, Americana females, Buff Orpington females, Delaware females, and some Dominique females.

“The Americana breed comes from the Araucana and Ameraucana mix and has different color plumage variations” according to Hoover.  We are looking forward to some more layers with some additional egg colors to the wide variations of brown we currently get.

These chicks are due to ship on May 8th, so we expect arrival on the 10th, but won’t know until the post office calls to let us know they are ready for pickup.

Broody Hen is now a Momma Hen

Momma Hen with baby chicks

Pipping Through

September 16th we began to see some activity out of the broody hen, Buff Red.  She began standing, sitting, moving about in the nest and really paying attention to the eggs under her.  Or so it seemed.  The weather turned hot, in the low 90’s while most of the  previous weeks were mid 70’s to low 80’s.  So was something going on, or just different behavior due to the warmer weather? It was Day 18, still a bit before the Day 21 hatch day.  We decided that at 3 days before the due date and the comments about not turning eggs in the incubators if being used for the last few days, that it was something with the eggs and not the heat.

 

Then on the 17th, Day 19, the broody one stood up enough that we could see one of her eggs had a small hole in it where it was pipping through.  The hen  pecked at the hole a bit, then sat back down.

We read that the chicks will pip through the membrane into the air pocket in the egg and begin peeping inside the egg before pipping through the shell.  It must have been that the broody hen could hear the peeping in the egg the day before and that must have been why she was exhibiting the different behavior.

Hatching

Day 20 and we see the first of the chicks appear out from under the hen.  We could not see any of the actual hatching.  When a chick would appear out from under the hen, the chicks were all dry and ready to go.  Over the course of the day, we saw 6 baby chicks.

On Day 21, the expected hatch day, we saw another baby chick, so a total of 7 different chicks we could identify.  That would leave 4 eggs that she would still be setting on.

Newly hatched baby chicks
Newly hatched baby chicks

As one of the chicks managed to jump from the nest onto the chicken coop floor, a 2 foot drop, and clearly not able to get back in, it was time to move the hen to the brooder cage.  The hen pecked at me just a bit when I started the move.  Surprisingly, she was quite content with the situation when I moved her.  The nest boxes are plastic dish pans, so it was a matter of unscrewing the screws used to attach the boxes to the frame.  The hen did not seem to mind the presence and noise of the electric drill I used to remove the screws.Yes it was close to her, only my hand on her back kept the drill from touching her.  Then I moved the entire box, hen, chicks, eggs, etc., all at one time.

It only took her a moment to reorient herself to the new location down close to the floor, and all was well.

Miscount?

As I moved the nest to the new location, I was able to get a closer look at what she had going on.  I was able to get a good head count – for certain we had 7 chicks and a quick count confirmed 5 eggs – an even dozen.  One of the blue eggs still had not hatched, but one did.

Then I reported to Kris there were in fact 7 chicks and 5 eggs remaining.  Kris says, how can that be?  We had counted 11 eggs in the next.  The math didn’t add up.  But I was sure of my count.  Perhaps it was a piece of egg shell turned in a way that it looked like a complete egg.  I had removed all the broken shells from the nest just before I made the move, so I didn’t think that was the answer.  I went and did a recheck.  confirmed, 7 hens, 5 eggs.  I checked the photos.  She was sitting on 11 eggs the previous week.

Some hen must certainly have got on the nest when no one was looking and slipped an egg in on the nest all the while going unnoticed.

Hatch Complete

Day 22 – We see another chick!  Now we have 8 new baby chicks.  Broody hen though still sitting on the eggs and being patient, even with all the baby chicks hopping around.  They of course have found the feeder and waterer and are busy filling their gizzards. Broody hen too, can reach the feed and water and has indulged herself in a much needed meal and drink.

About half way through the day, she gets off the nest and went down the run a little ways to do her business.  It was huge, and of course, 21 days of stored up odor, all released at one time.

While she was briefly off the nest, we could see that she hatched out the remaining blue egg.  We were hoping the blue eggs would both hatch.  With a Welsummer rooster in the mix, the dark brown and blue might mix to give us some green color eggs.  Well, the blue eggs had to hatch, and with both hatching, we are now hoping at least one of the two chicks from the blue eggs is a hen.  Time will tell.

The broody hen continued to sit on the remaining 4 eggs for the remainder of the day, but the next morning, was spending time in the run with the chicks as Momma Hen and no longer had any interest in the eggs on the nest.

I removed those four, knowing one was in the nest less than a week, and put the flashlight to the shell to candle the eggs.  All four eggs were infertile.

So of the original 11 eggs, we got a 72.7% hatch rate, and of the fertile eggs, a 100% hatch rate.

We are quite excited and happy with our first batch of baby chicks from our first broody hen.