The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Hatch two conclusions and hatch three plans

Holding chicks

Three and a half days after the first chick hatched (and a day and a half after I helped the last chick out of its shell), my obsession level finally diminished enough that I wasn't compelled to check on the chicks every ten minutes.  If you can believe it, chick hatching actually trumped strawberry harvesting for a couple of days there (which is why I had enough strawberries so early in the season to pick a whole bowlful two days in a row and could make chocolate strawberry shortcake.)  Maybe by the next hatch, I won't be so nervous that I'm unable to do anything else while eggs are pipping?

Percent survival over timeMy final hatch rate was 9 living chicks (and one cull) out of 24 eggs.  Certainly not as good as I was hoping when I counted my chickens before they hatched, but drastically better than my first hatch (which netted 1 chick out of 7 eggs.)  In fact, the hatch rate this time around was actually better than it looks since my autopsy on day 23 showed that four of the eggs were infertile, mostly from that old hen who just started laying a month ago.  People generally don't count infertile eggs in their hatch calculations, so our hatch rate was 45% --- 25% for our old hens and 58% for the prime cuckoo marans eggs.

Chick on brooderSince the folks we were fostering half of our australorps for probably don't want them after all, it looks like we might just need one more hatch to reach quota for the year.  We've given up on our hens as gene donors (and are more impressed with the foraging abilities of our black australorps anyway), so we've ordered twenty australorp hatching eggs from Golden Willow Farm.  They're the folks who sent us the cuckoo marans eggs, and I like the fact that their stock have access to real pasture.  I'm aiming for a hatch rate of 65% this time around (13 chicks), which I hope to achieve by sanding off any bits of poop on the eggs.  (Infection is a common cause of egg loss midway through the incubation period, which is the one part of the cycle where we did worse during this hatch than the first time around.  Incidentally, several of the eggs were slightly dirty.)  Wish us luck as we go into round three!

Four chicks at a time were drinking out of our chicken waterer as I typed this post.  No damp bedding in the brooder!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Just to give the Australorps one last plug - while researching chicken predators after our recent fox attack, I read that most predators will go after the light-coloured chickens first. I guess they're easier to see in the dark or in twilight, when most attacks occur. None of the chickens we lost in the attack were black or dark.

I'm hoping my Australorps have the ninja stealth skills to evade future attacks!

Comment by Darren (Green Change) Mon May 23 22:38:15 2011

I wish they'd go after our light-colored chicken. (I need to just eat that useless cochin, but I'm waiting until our first pullets begin to lay since egg production is already low.)

I was so completely in love with our Golden Comets, but I love our australorps more. I wonder if I'll change my tune again in a couple of years when I meet an even better breed?

Comment by anna Tue May 24 08:29:43 2011

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