Saturday, June 7, 2014

New chicks!

My sweet Blue Laced Red Wyandotte got broody about a month ago. It's her first expression of a maternal desire and I wanted to encourage her, so I got some fertile eggs from a friend in San Luis Obispo. He gave me three Cuckoo Marans and four Welsummer eggs.

He told me he's had 100 percent hatch rates, but I've never had that kind of results. Until now! She hatched seven beautiful chicks on Thursday.

 She wouldn't let me see them the first day, but I could hear peeping. When I woke up that morning, the chicken coop was silent. The four other girls are never really quiet, always clucking to the morning or commenting on something. But that day, they had nothing to say. I expected to find chicks.
I saw Mom's feathers moving, so I knew a chick was in there. I didn't want to disturb things until I was satisfied all the eggs had hatched, so I restrained myself. Well, maybe I poked around a little. Later, I saw a black one and then a striped one. The black ones with light undersides are Marans, the chipmunk striped ones are Welsummers.

The following morning she was clucking happily to them. I wanted to see what she had, but she remained settled on the nest. I was worrying about things like the broken eggshells. What if one of the babies got cut on one? As if chicks haven't been hatching for centuries without cutting themselves up. Should I go get the chicks and dip their beaks in water, the way you do when you hatch them in an incubator?

Naw, no need. Mama took care of it all. By that afternoon, she and all her brood were out of the nest, settled in the corner on wood chips. The babies danced around her, played in the water, tried to eat her food in the food dish and had eaten most of the dish of chick starter. I've never seen chicks get up and going so fast.

I put some kernels of corn in Mama's dish tonight, and the babies stole it! Two of them had a tug of war with one kernel. Mama did a good job of mashing the kernels for them, but no need, they pecked it and ran around with their prize.

I haven't had Marans before and am excited at these new additions. Now, so long as they are pullets...

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