April 12, 2009

Easter chicks, the natural way

baby chicks, La Ceiba, HondurasSix baby chicks so far and three eggs left

hatching eggs, La Ceiba, HondurasWe started with nine eggs...well, not exactly 'we' but the hen did. She is a young hen and this is her first time to go broody.

We moved the hen and eggs inside to this dog crate because a cold front (70's F − haha − and heavy rain) was coming in and because we haven't had much luck with baby chicks outside.

The day after we brought her inside, I removed the hen from the nest to eat as she hadn't eaten for at least two days. As I was watching her, I heard a 'peep, peep, peep!'. I looked around. I didn't see anything except the nine original eggs.
hatching eggs, La Ceiba, HondurasFinally I examined the eggs and found this tiny little hole in one. I could see the chick moving around inside and the egg rocked as she did so. If you click on this photo to enlarge it, you'll see what looks creepily like a little finger sticking out. That is the chick's beak.

hatching chick, La Ceiba, HondurasNow you can see her (hopefully it is a 'her') beak and a little of her face. It took her 7 1/2 hours to get from the tiny hole above to this stage. What an ordeal for such a tiny, helpless little thing.

baby chicks, La Ceiba, HondurasWe waited and watched until the early morning hours but chicky waited until we went to bed before making her appearance. I was really hoping to get some exciting video of the hatch, but they just wouldn't cooperate.

baby chicks, La Ceiba, HondurasDay two, the second chick hatched. Generally, the chicks would all be born within a day or two, but we had an interrupted clutch of eggs of which I'll have to tell you another day. (Hint: Shame on those roosters and dogs!) The second chick looks dead in this photo, but she is just resting. They dry out and fluff up in no time.

baby chicks, La Ceiba, HondurasDay three, we had three chicks. Did you know that you can hear the chick pecking at the shell and peeping before they ever make a hole in it? I did not know that. I keep picking the eggs up and listening to them, much to mother hen's annoyance. I probably shouldn't, but I just can't help myself.

baby chicks, La Ceiba, HondurasAlso on day three, mama hen started teaching her her chicks how to eat. Prior to that I dipped their beaks in water a few times a day so they don't get dehydrated. So far, I haven't seen them drink on their own so I'm a little worried about that.

Don't get grossed out by that nasty looking blob next to the hen. It is some smashed ripe bananas which the chickens love. The chicks haven't gotten into that yet.
baby chicks, La Ceiba, HondurasFinally these little guys are getting on the ball and by day five, we had six. We are still waiting to see if the final three eggs are viable. I'm hoping for miracles tonight because this poor hen is on her 5th week of sitting and really needs to take better care of herself. She doesn't like to get off the nest − ever.

The older chicks are already jumping out of the bowl and getting out of the pen. We are going to have to put a barrier around it to keep them in.

I have a little bit of video, but it will have to wait for another day.

I chickens.

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