Meet the peeps!

November 21, 2010 § 1 Comment

I know – photos like this are unfair – way too cute! But at this age, that’s just what they are! (If it’s any consolation, in a couple of weeks s/he will go through the ugliest of ugly phases, if Buster’s Lizard King transformation was anything to go by …)

Today was the third day since hatching, so we let Poppy take her bubs outside into their little attached run. It’s amazing how much they change in 12 hours – yesterday they were wandering around the nest and immediate vicinity, but it was a bit random and quite tottery. As though not all the wires had been connected yet. This morning they were beetling around at high speed, chasing each other and eating and drinking at a million miles an hour. It really is as though they just wake up into their bodies. Amazing.

The little Dorking (who we fear is a boy) is still the one most likely to come and investigate things, and usually the first to decide s/he doesn’t want to stay under mum any more.

Closely followed by the four we refer to as the Ginger Ninjas – the four Rhode Island Red chicks.

The four Barnevelders are probably the most shy, and it’s quite uncommon to see all four out at any one time (unless Poppy’s turfed everyone out).

And the three Barred Rock chicks are chunky little bubs who look distinctly like baby penguins!

We haven’t managed to put leg rings on them yet, so things like names are still a fair way off. But when we do get rings on them, we might run a poll so that you can guess along with us as to what sex each chick is! (There may even be a prize involved.)

There are a couple of slight concerns. Little Dorking has a very weirdly twisted leg, as you can see in this photo. It doesn’t appear to be an injury, and doesn’t seem to slow him/her down at all. And one of the RIR chicks has twisted toes, very like Claude did, although a bit more so. This sort of thing is often a sign that the eggs had humidity problems during incubation. And the third thing that makes us think this is what we discovered with the two remaining Dorking eggs, that were put under Bessie to finish incubating. It’s a bit upsetting, as are the images that accompany the next couple of paragraphs. If you’d rather not see or read anything of that nature, scrolling to the bottom off this post should take you safely past that and straight to even more cute chick photos.

There was no sight or sound of the two remaining Dorking eggs getting any closer to hatching, despite never having spent more than a few minutes not under a hen. They had both been alive and visibly moving when we candled them a week ago, and both were pretty full too, so we should have seem something by now. We candled them again this afternoon to see if there was anything going on, and it became pretty obvious that the embryos were no longer alive. So we did a breakout analysis, to see if we could work out when it had all gone wrong.

As far as we can tell, both chicks had developed normally, but neither looked like it had managed to break through into the airsack (the first stage of hatching) or finished absorbing all the yolk. And both eggs had comparatively dry membranes – in the case of DK1, you can see the dry(ish) membrane across the top of the chick’s head. So it looks like it probably was an issue with low humidity, and the Dorking eggs being – for whatever reason – most susceptible to those problems. So we’re going to have to look at ways of maintaining an appropriate level of humidity for future clutches. (Or maybe it’s Poppy – maybe she’s too good at keeping them warm, or doesn’t give off enough moisture?)If nothing else, I can see us needing to weigh the eggs during incubation – there is a predictable rate of weight loss for good hatching, so weighing should let us know if we’re on track in that department.

Of course, it could be something else entirely … or ‘just one of those things’.

So that’s where we are now. Twelve chicks running around, and popping in and out of Poppy’s feathers at all angles. I think we – and our camera – will be quite busy for quite a while!

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