We have a clutch! (well, Poppy does)

November 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

A lot has happened since our last update on Poppy’s brooding. The fertility of the eggs was every bit as bad as we feared, with only six out of the fifteen eggs showing any signs of viability at the fifteen day period. The difference between live and not is huge at this stage, so taking the nine dud eggs away was a no-brainer. (We’ve kept them in the fridge so we can break them open in a couple of days as see what stage they got to, or if they were infertile right from go.)

We had the first signs of pipping on Friday night. Dorking egg 4. The chick seemed to stop being able to make much progress after a couple of hours, so we decided to intervene and very carefully  pulled some of the shell away, and tore the membrane enough to let the chick get its wing out. The whole business of whether to help or not is quite controversial – there are good arguments in favour of not doing so, but with only six eggs viable we weren’t prepared to stand back and do nothing. We were very careful to not do anything more than just remove bits of shell that were already partly cracked away, and not to cause any bleeding. So we helped a bit, and then tucked the partially-hatched chick back under mum …

Next morning, we had one chick out, and two more coming along. (Woo hoo!) By late afternoon on Saturday, this was three chicks out (Dorkings 4, 1 & 2), and two more pipping (our only Coronation Sussex, plus Dorking 3). The Sussex seemed to be having trouble, so we decided to do a similar assist-job with it.

Come Sunday morning, we had three Dorking and one Sussex out and peebling around. Sadly the pipping Dorking that we left to its own devices died after hatching. The last egg – Dorking 5 – hadn’t broken the shell, but was through into the airsack and peeping loudly … but died without being able to break out of the shell.

So the tally is four live chicks – three Dorking and one Coronation Sussex. Pretty poor, given that we put fifteen eggs under Poppy.

But it’s hard to be sad when you see the little heads poking out from under Poppy’s skirts …

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