In early February(the 6th, to be exact) we started incubating a new batch of chicks for the spring. This new group is a group of eggs that come from a special line of French Black Copper Marans, and a motley mixture of our current layers that are Ameraucauna, Cinnamon Queen, Rhode Island Red, Olive Eggers(Easter Egger/Maran mix), and Buff Orphintons with a French Black Copper Maran Rooster. Hopefully these new chicks will be laying in late summer to replace some of our older hens that are becoming less productive.
We are working toward specializing in a couple of breeds that we prefer to have as a dual purpose breed that is appropriate for both high production egg laying and still be big enough to use as a meat bird. So far my favorites are Easter Eggers, Olive Eggers, Marans, and possibly a couple of egg layers that are blue in color. There is nothing better than opening a carton of eggs and seeing a rainbow of colors...you just can't help but smile, really.
Back to the chicks...They began hatching on the evening of the 26th and as of this morning 20 of 24 have hatched out successfully. More than likely the last four will not be hatching, but I just have to give them a couple of extra days just in case. I hate the idea of not giving a late bloomer a chance at life.
Last night I spent quite a bit of time with two of them that were having a hard time getting out of their eggs on their own. I carefully helped them break just the shell around the edge that they started to unzip making sure that I did not tear the membrane on the inside of the shell. I added water to dampen the membrane to keep it soft so that they could work their way through a little more easily. They were both very week and although they were able to finally break free from their shells, they did not look like they would make it until morning.
This morning I was excited beyond words to see that both, even though they were weak, were still alive and hanging in there. Now they are running around with the rest of the pack and trying not to get pushed around. One of the two has a toe that was crooked, but I have put it in a splint to help it grow right. I find it amazing how observant these little guys are...as soon as I put these last two chicks in with the group, they immediately started picking on the one with the curved toe...which although is sad, they saw a difference and reacted to it.
Happy March First Everybody! Hoping the new life of these chicks encourages some great Spring weather.