Yep, we have a couple of chicks. Remember last week when I mentioned about a hen cackling on the driveway? Well a few days later the dogs were nosing in the shrubbery close by, and we found a hen sitting on a whole slew of eggs. Didn't know how long she had been there, so we just left her. On Tuesday I had a look, and found a dead chick just below the nest. It was still wet, like straight out of the egg, so maybe it had hatched and had not really been under the hen at that point. Anyway, did hear another chick peeping, and found an egg with a hole pecked in it. When I checked yesterday morning, that one had just hatched. Later in the day there was another chick peeping, and it had hatched this morning, along with another one that was wet and cold when I saw it. I pushed it under the hen, but despite getting well heated up, it just didn't make it.
You've got to remember here that the mother is from generations of hens that were bred to be good egg layers, and not good mothers, so she might have been a bit lacking in that department. Also, she started with at least 18 eggs under her, which is too many, so not all of them fit, and some got pushed out, or rolled out, or alternated between being in and out, so some chicks probably weren't in the best of shape either. Also, we have one little banty rooster to 60 big hens, so...you know... he can only spread himself so far:) so not all the eggs were fertilized. Anyway, 2 live chicks, 2 dead ones, one egg partially hatched with a dead chick, and a whole bunch of eggs that were rotten. When I went out for the umpteenth time to check on them this afternoon, the hen had moved, so that meant she had given up on the eggs that were left. Time to get her somewhere safe.
Now you see it
Now you don't
So into a little dog crate they went, until I could figure out where to put them.
In the end I got a big heavy wire dog crate that had been transformed into a double decker chicken carrying cage. I took the tray out of the middle and put it over the top for a roof. One inch chicken wire went around the crate so the chicks couldn't get out. There is a cardboard box for a nest box, and food and water and they are set for a little while. The youngest chick isn't as mobile yet, so it stayed under the hen most of the time.
Don't really need the extra work this is going to involve, and there's a good chance one or both end up being roosters. But who can resist that cuteness though:)
There's a bunch of interesting chicken information here
The hen or hens lay an egg a day, which, if they are fertilized, sit in a sort of suspended animation until the hen goes broody. When the broody hen sits and stays on them, the very warm temperature created by her body starts the development of the embryo, which will hatch in 21 days, all things going as they should.
Tomorrow I'll have to see about getting a bit of chick scratch, which is a grain mix that is ground into very small pieces. The laying pellets I have are too large, although I did take some in later and grind them in the coffee grinder, and they will do for a little bit.
Oh yeah, that shadow that keeps passing over, it's laundry blowing on the clothesline overhead:)