Thursday, May 23, 2013

Broody chickens 0 for 2, Chicks, Tractoring

So I didn't get anything to hatch. Again. The first time last year the roo was a dud. All the eggs had turned into liquid yellow water on the inside. None of them developed anything. This year we got a little further than that. I finally did eggtopsies Wednesday. That was day 25. They should have started hatching out Friday night or Saturday morning if they were going to.

I won't post pictures of all the gory insides. First off, ick, and second, my hands were covered in liquid chicken bits and no way I was going to be able to take pictures like that. Out of the 10 eggs we started with, and the 4 more she stole, 5 actually had something in them, besides yellow water. Four chicks looked like they made it to about day 17-ish I'm guessing. They still had large egg sacks attached to their bellies. All four of them were about the same size. Day 17-ish was also the day the broody hen stole a thin shelled egg and it broke over the others in the nest.

The last developing chick had actually pipped, or broken through, the inner membrane of the egg into the air cell in the top. From there it should have hatched, but again, eggs got broken over the nest. This time I think it was a squabble with someone wanting to lay in the box the broody was in. Now that the creepy meats are free ranging I haven't been banning the older hens from the chicken house. They had been laying under an overturned feed bin. I'm just guessing, but either the broken eggs coated the outside of the developing eggs and suffocated them, or there was some sort of bacterial or other ick transfer into the eggs.

I've been throwing the broody hen, Crooked Toes, out of the nest box trying to break her of her broodiness. No eggs, but she still wants to set in there. They don't leave the nest or lay eggs when they are setting and she's getting skinny. Once a day they run out, eat as much as they can hold, drink deeply, take the biggest broody poop you ever saw, and maybe sneak in a dust bath before returning to set and zone out. It's time for her to start eating and laying again.

Instead of wanting to set, today she decided to adopt all the older chicks out in the yard.

The older hens just chase them around like big bullies when they come in the feed. Not her, she bullies everything but them. This morning she fluffed all up, spread her wings like a strutting turkey and went after Bastard, the cat, when he got too close to the chicks. When I got home this afternoon she was laying out with them. I could see them darting nervous looks at her, just waiting to get pecked on the head like the other hens do. After I fed she got closer and closer as they ate. When they realized she wasn't going to chase them off, they all gathered around her. She kept setting down and spreading her wings trying to cover any chick that got near enough, never mind that at five weeks old, the creepy meats are almost her size. That one white one in front of her is a White Rock pullet, and the rest are creepy meats. 

She's actually making cooing noises at the White Rock chick as it preens it's feathers. All around I guess they're all happy now. Next time I get a broody, I'll put her, her eggs, and some shavings in a dog carrier, move the whole shebang into the brooder, and make sure she only has good sturdy eggs. It's gonna be a little while, since we put Kato in the freezer, and the new little pecker head is only five weeks old.

And now for shots of the newest chicks. No, I didn't get any more. I promised Scott I wouldn't bring home anything else that eats. Pete at Valley Co-op sure tried his hardest to get me to buy a turkey chick or two the last time I was in there though. It was hard to say no, but I did.

Growing by leaps and bounds they are. They just started using the branches as perches. Some of the them are really getting very pretty feather colors. Almost makes me want to keep one or two of the pullets as egg layers and see what I get for chicks with a cross with the Sagittas. The little Banty pullets is still tiny. The Easter Eggers are changing color as their feathers come in. I'm excited to see if they lay blue or green eggs. 

Scott borrowed Uncle Mike's tractor again this year. He tilled and corrugated the garden for me. It's been hard to not rush right out and plant anything, but a good rule of thumb around here is to not put anything in the ground until Memorial Day. Good thing too, cause we got frost last night. 

 The garden before, and full of weeds. 

Scott working working some tractor magic. 

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