Friday, April 16, 2010

Unwanted Houseguest

Well our new additions to the flock have become quite a stir to the henhouse.  A week ago monday saw a new birth .

Mother was very attentive to her chick, which again I had to help out of it's shell.

Sadly none of the other eggs hatched.  We had put 11 freshly laid eggs under the hen after her first attempt at hatching  resulted in complete failure.  Upon opening a couple eggs after 48 hours later, I found fully formed dead chicks.  I can only wonder at the cause.  Did they suffocate in the shells?  We had frequently checked them for sounds of peeping and tapping and heard none.  Our hens eggs are very hard shelled and the lining is pretty tough and rubbery (that is except for the Grey Leghorn eggs which are just the opposite and sometimes just picking them up from the nest, fractures thier delicate shells).  Why do I have such a high failure rate on setting hens?


The 21 day old chicks were doing well and being very well cared for by their mother.

Here is the one I had to help out of it's shell, I believe it is a Americana-Isa Brown cross.

This one seems to be pure Americana.

And the last one I am unsure of.

All of the other hens gape at them through the fence, but poor old Snaggle Beak seems to be the most frequent visitor,  she peeps at them and looks longingly at them and trys to get into their pen continuously.

Big Red also seems to be quite interested in the chicks.

We have also purchased more chicks, 7 Silver-Laced Wyendotts, 4 Barred Rocks and 4 Grey Leghorns.
(One of the Barred Rocks died recently).

Anyway after we let the hen and and out of their enclosed nestbox to roam with the others, we noticed that she became less and less attentive to her new chick.  As it would try to get under her she would step on it to get away from it, until it was forced to try to ingratiate itself with the other hen.  She sometimes accepted it as her own, but other times chased it away.  We tried putting the mother and chick back into the enclosed nestbox after the other hen pecked it hard on the back drawing blood.  But the mother hen almost stomped it to death trying to get out.  So we had to do something drastic.

We had to bring Little Peep into the house to care for it. 


Reddunappy said...

Chicks are so cute! I bet the grandkids enjoy them.

It may be that the eggs are getting to cold, that the hen isnt keeping them warm enough. Newly hatched chicks need to be at 95 degrees, then step them down 5 degrees a week, I worked at a feed store and ordered all the chicks, they need a heat lamp. You might think about an incubator, if you know the roosters are doing their job LOL, that would probably really help the hatch rate. Feed stores usually sell a syrofoam one, two pieces about $70 each. Temprature makes a big difference to baby chicks.

GreyWolf said...

Red: yes we have considered an incubator but we really don't plan on raising a lot of layers, maybe a small one in the future though. We have maxed out our chicken coop room and haven't decided just what breeds we really want to raise. I like the Americana's, Rocks, and Buff Orphington's. All I can say about our Isa Browns is that they are extreme mouser's. They put the cats to shame. And my old standby is the Rhode Island Reds. So every year we try adding a few different breeds.
This year we decided to try setting a couple of hens as an experiment. Even though our results were less than expected, it was still fun. We just love watching and raising our mixed flock.
BTW- Little Peep is doing well and I can't wait for it to feather out to see what it becomes. And I am leaning towards an Americana/Rhode Island Red as the third chick.(all of our roosters are Americanas)