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.

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