Friday, September 28, 2007

Incubating eggs: not for the faint-hearted (chicken watch)

Hatching eggs is not for the faint-hearted. My first two chicks fairly burst out of their shells last Friday morning (this is a picture of the first).

And here are the first two, recovering from entry into the world.

While the first two chicks were running around and squawking, another chick pipped (poked the first tiny hole in the egg) that day. It spent all day trying to get out, but not trying very
hard. It gasped through its peephole.

Eventually I helped it. It was very pretty, yellower than the first two. My houseguest Mitzi coddled it whenever she was home, trying to get it to perk up, but it never drank on its own, and never ate one bite despite our coddling, and died two days later.

At that point, I had eight other eggs which hadn't done anything at all. I had read online (remember I'm a beginner): "Any eggs which do not hatch within 24 hours of the first, throw them out."

Seeing as how my mentee wants to be a nurse, I figured she'd be interested - we took one of the inactive eggs outside and cracked it open. I thought we'd find a rotten mess of yolk and white but instead, to our horror, there was a fully formed, BIG dead chick inside. Or had it been alive and we killed it? I left the other seven in the incubator...

... so next morning, there were seven inactive eggs. With a sad sigh I took them out and put them in the compost pile. Then I heard two of them cheeping!! I picked up a cheeping egg and it cheeped louder!

So I brought them all back inside. One of the two cheeping birds died a few hours later (stopped breathing with its beak partly out of the shell).

The other one needed lots of help to get out but made it and is now a much smaller but determined member of the clan.

The first two are completely robust and intent on escaping from the brooder box, I had to make its sides very tall because they were leaping madly to get out. They have black-and-white feathers at the ends of their little wing buds. They eat and drink constantly.

Number three, rescued from the compost pile and hatched almost three days after the first two, may turn out to be "special" - it's very wobbly. However, it has started eating and drinking on its own and pecks at its older siblings.

Five days after the first two hatched, they were so insanely bored inside I made them an outdoor home. It's their dacha. All three seem to like it fine. They run and flap their new little wings. They don't like the banana pieces I gave them, but they do eat the ants that are visiting the bananas...



At 11:32 AM, Anonymous sylvia said...

Oh my, I didn't realize that hatching eggs could be so traumatic!

At 1:36 PM, Blogger Hannah said...

Love the pictures! Love the huge feet! Keep them coming....

At 5:49 PM, Anonymous susanlynn said...

Cute chicks !!! I like chicks. I just don't like the fact that they become chickens. You are witnessing life in a of the fittest. My daughter Julianne hatched her own little chick on Sept. 23...Jane Elizabeth !!! She is a cute chick, too. I am in love.


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