Diary of a Hatch

When I wrote yesterday, I only had one chick, so I’ll let you know how things are going.

To recap: I bought some eggs from Ebay, and put most of them in the incubator, and left 3 outside, with a whole lot of infertile eggs, in the hope that a hen would go broody. For a very long time, the hen simply added to the nest, but was completely disinterested in sitting. This was a shame, as chicks are quite a lot of hassle to raise, and if the hen was broody she would do a lot of the work for me. I decided that perhaps the hen also remembered how much hassle it all was, and so was deciding to not risk it a second time. I left the eggs where they were, and went to Hong Kong for two weeks.

When I returned, one egg had gone bad, which might have killed all the others in the incubator, but there was no way of knowing. I left the eggs in the incubator, which stopped turning them for 3 days, and I resisted the urge to open the lid and investigate (though I did shine a torch in, to search for signs of life). I saw a couple of eggs trembling, so I knew some had survived. When I wrote yesterday, one chick, a Speckled Sussex, had hatched, and I put her under a warm red light, with a mirror for company. Then, before I went to bed, a second Speckled Sussex hatched, so that too went into the brooder. Another egg had a crack.

The following morning, there were two more chicks in the incubator, both White Leghorns (my Italian birds). They are completely beautiful, though not especially clever. When I added them to the brooder, the second hatchling from yesterday was much the more intelligent, and was running around, and drinking unaided, and pecking all the other birds. I gave them water on a saucer, and sprinkled some chick-crumb into it. I do have a proper water pot, but chicks tend to be stupid, and will drown themselves if given the opportunity. Every hour, I went in, and dipped their beaks into the water, so they learn how to drink. They weren’t at all interested (apart from the one, clever chick) and struggled to return to under the red lamp, where they could sleep.

I had to leave at 8am, to cook for Lunch Club. One more chick was almost out of the shell, but I didn’t have time to stay and move it, I just had to hope it would be okay. When I arrived home at 2pm, there were two chicks in the incubator: another Speckled Sussex, and a Cream Legbar (from one of the beautiful blue eggs). The Legbar was in a bad way, very floppy — it didn’t seem able to hold up its head. I put them both into the brooder, and mixed some egg yolk with water from the kettle, to feed to the weak chick. Sometimes they don’t absorb the yolk properly when hatching, so eating more might help. It isn’t very keen though, and every time I feed it, it poops on me.

Actually, pooping is good. Sometimes chicks can’t poop, and a very healthy-looking chick will die without warning. I put a few drops of apple cider vinegar into their water, as this seems to help. Most of the other eggs look dead, though 2 more have cracks. Usually, if chicks don’t hatch after exactly 3 weeks, then they never will, but I’ll leave the incubator going, just in case they make it. They’re both Legbars, and I would love to have a female that survives, so I’m really, really hoping that at least one of them does.

In the garden, there is no noise from the nest. I will keep my hatchlings under the lamp for now, and if the hen manages to hatch the ones in the nest, I will then add mine to her brood. I’m pretty sure that hens can’t count — she won’t notice the extras.

Thanks for reading. Have a nice day.

Take care,
Love, Anne x

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In the end, 9 chicks managed to hatch. I have 3 of each type, though the female legbar looks very weak, so might not survive. I will keep feeding her, and hope that she makes it.