[Originally posted April 27, 2014 at caitlinpatton.com/blog]
This post is three weeks overdue, but better late than never, right?
When April 3 rolled around, I was checking the incubator frequently and waiting eagerly for the first egg to hatch. As it turns out, I had a much smaller hatch than I hope for, and they hatched late, so I think the average temperature in the incubator may have been on the low side. In total, eight chicks hatched (out of 24 eggs, 21 of which seemed to be developing). Four started to hatch but died before making it out of the shell.
The first chick hatched on the evening of the 3rd; Richard and I were lucky enough to witness the actual hatch and we were enthralled!
The next day, I was reluctant to leave the incubator (by the morning of the 4th, there was still only one little chick, though other eggs had pipped*), but I had plans to go to Whitmore Farm to pick up the chicks I had ordered from them: 10 Delawares, 2 Ameraucanas and two Welsummers. The Delawares will be the foundation of next year’s breeding flock, and the Welsummers, when they are grown, will be added to my current breeding flock so that I will have five hens instead of three to produce chicks next year. The Ameraucanas were something of a whim when I ordered – I know my husband loves them, and I do too – but I’m hoping that we have one male and one female so they can be the start of a third breeding flock.
It was a nice drive to Whitmore Farm, if a bit long. My Mom accompanied me and we enjoyed seeing the farm. She held the box of chicks on her lap on the way home, so as to keep them from getting chilled. Richard was at home watching the incubator and sending us regular updates.
We ended up having seven more hatch on Friday and Saturday, for a total of eight homegrown chicks. Not as many as I hoped for, but very exciting nonetheless! I already can’t wait for the next hatch! We got four pure Welsummers, two olive eggers* and two Welsummer/Black Copper Marans crosses. These crosses are little black chicks, and bookended the hatch by being the first and last to hatch.
Three of the chicks (two Welsummers and an olive egger) were sold a couple of days after hatching. Four more have been spoken for and will be picked up in a few days. The remaining chick, a little Welsummer pullet*, seems to have some kind of defect in her legs that makes it difficult for her to walk. I’ve been doing my best for her and keeping my fingers crossed that she will be able to grow up and live a happy life. If she does, she can stay at my farm and lay eggs, though her eggs would be for the table and not for hatching as I would not want to risk passing along any genetic weakness she may have.
Already looking forward to the next hatch!
* For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, pipping refers to the first break in the shell made by a chick who is in the process of hatching.
* Olive eggers are produced by crossing a dark brown egg laying breed (in my case, my Welsummer rooster) with a blue or green egg laying breed (in my case, an Easter Egger hen). The female offspring will lay olive green eggs.
* A pullet is a young female chicken.