Saturday, March 23, 2013

New additions to the flock

There's been some changes to my flock. First, I had to get rid of my cockerel that I hatched over Labor Day. He was starting to mate with the hens, and that's just too many boys for my girls.  I had someone come to get him who intended to eat him. I'm ok with that. If I were less squeamish, I would've processed him myself. That would I'd know for sure that his end was humane. This lady seemed nice enough, and seemed to be a good person.  Because she seemed decent, I gave her my two sexlinked cockerels from my January hatch.  Down THREE boys! I've had someone offer to teach me how to process chickens, so I think I'll take them up on it in the near future.

Then, a couple days later, I got a panicked facebook message from an old friend from junior high. She had a flock of 9 chickens. She doesn't have an enclosed coop- she lets them wander about her back yard. Her yard is mostly fenced, with a small section between the house and side fence being left open. A day earlier, animal control parked in front of her house, WALKED INTO HER BACK YARD and confiscated two of her chickens. Then they cited her with having two "livestock" animals at large, which includes a fine of $70 per animal. Her husband is an attorney, and talked them down to $15/animal, which I still think is outrageous. They are fighting their city on it. However, legal limit for her is 7 chickens, so two had to go. She asked if I'd take them. Take already laying hens? OK!!!!!!

So, I am the proud new owner of a silver penciled hamburg named Salt.

I also have an Easter Egger, though I can't remember what they named her.

A couple months ago, I decided I wanted to replace Jones, my white legbar. I wanted to get a legbar rooster that was more traditional looking.  This week, my friend brought one of her surplus ones for me. She warned me that I had to pick it up that day because she's not allowed roosters at her home, and he had to go before he started crowing and the neighbors caught wind. So, I headed down to Bountiful to get him.  While transferring him from her pet carrier to my rubbermaid tote, he made a break for it and started running. He is not a tame rooster, and has had very little human interaction. She keeps her birds at a recreational property, so they don't see people much. He'd already had a very trying day, and was really starting to hate people.  It took about 15 minutes of running all over the place, up and down busy-ish roads before I finally got him. I'm sure it was a hilarious spectacle to the casual observer.  He's really a handsome boy though. I have named him "Bolt" after Husein Bolt, the world's fastest runner, and the fact that he bolted away from me.

Tomorrow,  Jones will be getting a new home. I talked with a guy named Jack who has 200 hens and looking to start breeding. I think he'll be a very happy rooster.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Miracle Baby

My chicken keeping has become contagious, and several of my friends started keeping chickens after hearing about how much fun I've had.  One of those friends is C.  She's called me with her chicken keeping questions, which are primarily really great questions, with a couple of hilarious ones (Do chickens have periods?)

Anyway, a few weeks ago, C called to say that one of her hens had gone broody, and wondered what to do. I asked her if she wanted to break the hen of her broodiness, or give her eggs to hatch. She opted for fertile eggs, so I gave her 7. Unfortunately, 3 of them ended up getting trampled and cracked by the other hens. The chicken was brooding in the most popular lay box, so it got a lot of traffic, and C would have to get eggs out of that box every day.

One egg didn't develop, but we got to day 19 and had three wiggling chicks inside. I recommended C get a separate place for the broody to be with her babies so that the babies wouldn't get hurt by the other chickens. So on day 19, we set up a second, much smaller coop. While we were doing that, one of her hens kind of shoved the broody out of the way and laid a MONSTER egg onto the nest. Seriously, I'll bet that egg is a triple yolker. It was ENORMOUS. Unfortunately, it landed right on one of the eggs. We peek in there, and that egg was just shattered. I picked it up to see if the membrane was intact, and I found a tiny hole in that, and a drop of blood oozed out.  I just knew it was a goner. And so close to hatching, too.

C looked ready to cry. We took it inside to open it up and see what it could have been.  C peeled the first tiny bit of shell off the top, and we saw the chick moving under the membrane!  We realized it was still alive. So, I ran home and got my incubator.  I put it in the incubator, and cranked the humidity up as high as I could, given that the membrane was showing on a significant part of the egg, and "shrink wrapping" was a huge risk.

We could actually see the chick wiggling around, so it instantly became the most interesting egg in lockdown that I've ever seen. I honestly felt like it only had about 10% chance of survival, but we decided to try.

Here's a video that C took of the chick a couple hours later.

Late Saturday night, about 40 hours after it had been smashed, C excitedly calls me to report that the chick had hatched!  I rushed over there to find a healthy chick. We decided to check the eggs still under the broody and found one more hatched chick, and a big pip in the other.  By Sunday morning, all three were hatched. She put the NICU baby out with the others, and the mama hen accepted her right into the nest.

Here's a quick video showing all three chicks with their mama.