Pipping becomes Peeping!

November 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Yesterday was All Go in the broody coop. But it didn’t begin well.

When we checked her first thing in the morning, the little Sussex who had been pipping the night before had died without managing to free itself from the shell. We think it was a humidity thing – if the egg membrane dries out before the chick has managed to get out of the egg, it can become almost impossibly tough. In this case the membrane was still covering most of the chick’s head, and good portion of its upper body. It was quite a big chick too, but obviously just didn’t hatch fast enough to beat the membrane before running out of energy. We’ve had this problem before – it may be that our sawdust shavings are just too good at keeping things dry. Anyway, the other two pipping eggs were still going, so we took away the dead chick and went back inside to check that low humidity during hatching was the likely problem, and to find out what to do about it.

After a quick cup of coffee and a trawl through the library, I went back out with a bowl and a warm wet cloth to lay over the eggs for a minute or so. (Hint: you can do a pretty good job of sanitising the cloth by putting it wet into a microwave safe bowl and nuking it on high for two minutes. Let it cool to handleable temperature before using.) Another option would have been to spritz the eggs with (cooled) boiled water, but I couldn’t find my little spray bottle.

So out I go, and very carefully lift Poppy off the nest … and the first bub had hatched! Dorking #3. A quick check of its egg showed that the membranes did look a little dry, so I tucked bub into a pocket and laid my cloth over the eggs for a good sixty seconds. Of course I was also having to physically hold Poppy back, which wasn’t easy. I lifted off my cloth, released Poppy and she was back on the nest before you could say ‘evaporative cooling’. As soon as she was settled, I tucked bub back under her breast and went back inside.

I tried to resist checking too often, but I did make a point of doing the cloth thing with individual eggs twice more over the course of the day. By 7 pm we had eleven chicks out and peeping, and one more – BV#3 – on its way. A quick check at 8.30 pm (shutting-in time) showed that one out and under mama too, so we had everything except Dorkings #1 and 2 hatched! Hopefully they’ll hatch overnight, or early tomorrow. Otherwise they’ll have to go under one of the other broody hens (Ella and Bessie) for incubation.

Twelve peeps out and two to go! How will we survive the cuteness?!

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