Chickens and More Chickens
I’ve been a little busy lately, what with starting a new job, then losing it again after 6 weeks (a reflection on the economy and the state of sales, not on my performance, I like to think), caring for chickens and goats, and reading about chickens—my poultry library has expanded!—and joining a chicken chat list on Yahoo! Groups. And now, our flock has expanded again. We have chicks! Our very own little babies, three of them.
Cinnalaya, one of our two remaining cubalaya pullets (after Cubalaya, the first one, died), went broody a month ago and was determined to sit on the nest, eggs or no eggs. After three days I gave back four eggs for her to hatch, and over the next several days she acquired four more, laid by her sister Chocolaya and others. At that point I put her in a separate enclosure with her own little nest. Here she is on Hatching Day, Monday, Nov. 8 with her three chicks!
Two of the other five eggs were complete duds, never fertile, but I didn’t candle them. The remaining three were probably viable had I let them be for another day, but I was advised after they first three had hatched the day before that they were probably duds. Wish I hadn’t listened. I started to open the eggs and found developed chicks. I put them back under the hen for the rest of the day, but things didn’t look good by nightfall so I disposed of them. I’m sorry I meddled! Next time I’ll know better, and I’ll also know to not put any eggs in the nest until I have made a special brooding nest for the broody hen and fenced it off so there’s no more adding to the clutch. Better for them all to develop starting the same time.
Ah well, live and learn. I’ll take more photos tomorrow if I can. It’s harder now because they’re in a big plastic tub, about 50 gallons, so I have to shoot pictures from above and they don’t seem to like it. It’s amazing how much of a mess they make. I have to clean out poop a couple of times a day, replace feed and water, and in general straighten up. I don’t mind. the chicks are terribly adorable, in three different shades of apricot or peach. Two have little dark markings on their heads and back, the lightest one doesn’t seem to.
The big question, aside from how many hen chicks vs rooster chicks, is who’s their daddy? Big Red, before he was dispatched? (He was “processed” the same weekend Cinnalaya went broody. Chicken fertilization lasts for one to two weeks and several eggs.)
Or is it Boris the Spangled Russian Orloff, who hasn’t yet been observed mating? Maybe he’s just a sly gentleman.