It sure is busy right now around Hensington Palace. We have made the decision to move into Bantam Wyandottes as our main breed and, in accordance with that, we purchased some various coloured bantam eggs for hatching. We also collected eggs from our black bantam Wyandotte team and set six of those, along with 18 varicoloured ones in the incubator.
First to hatch were two black bantam wyandotte chicks. We dubbed these two “kit and kaboodle” since out of the six eggs we set they were the only two to develop and hatch. The whole kit and kaboodle, so to speak.
We were a little bit surprised that they have such light colouring, but having posted about them on the Poultry Matters Forums, I am now feeling reassured that they will more than likely feather out as black adults as they are carrying Birchen (EB) alleles. (Don’t worry, if you don’t understand that, I don’t either, really, but those in the know, tell me that you can make black on E (extended) B (black). All I know is that they are really cute! Here is another photo of them at ten days of age.
In this photo, you can see they have begun to feather out on the wingtips and the feathers are black, but with the expected ‘magpie’ primaries which are common on young black chickens but moult out later and are replaced with black feathers.
They are are still very yellow in the down on their undersides and their faces, but I am expecting to see that fade as they get older.
A day or so after these little ones hatched, Dora, our little champion black hen decided to go broody for us. As she had done so well in the show, I decided it would be a nice thank you to her if I allowed her to sit on some eggs. The varicoloured eggs in the incubator were just a few days away from hatching by then, so I gave her three to brood on for me. We gave her one black, one Crele, and one “Mixed” which means that last one could be any colour when it hatched.
Not long after giving them to her, Dora rejected the Crele egg. I tried to put it back under her, but the next morning, she had pushed it aside again, so I brought it back inside. Candling indicated faint signs of life, so I returned it to the incubator.
Although I had said that I would not be setting anymore eggs, or hatching any more chicks, I then saw some gold laced bantam wyandotte chicks advertised for sale on one of the facebook groups I belong to. I was doing my best to resist them, but it is so hard when there is something on your ‘want list’ that just happens to come along at what seems like the perfect timing. I already had a brooder set up for the black bantam chicks and these were of a similar age to them.
Of course, I bought some!
And here they are! So cute! But with so many new chickens joining our flock, it was time to make some decisions about which chickens would need to move on from Hensington Palace. It was decided that we would sell Bertha, our lovely Light Sussex girl. She was bought to be a laying hen, but she has a strong maternal streak that saw her go broody four times last season! We found her a home with someone who wanted a broody Sussex hen. Then it was time for me to admit that my beautiful Australorp Rooster, Chop Chop and his lovely lady, Chica are too big for me to handle, and that they need to move on, once and for all. I advertised them, and it was not long before a buyer approached me with an offer to buy them.
It will be sad to see Choppy and Chica go, because they were the first chickens I ever hatched and reared for myself, but at the same time, I know they are going to a place where they will be really wanted, and that they will have the chance to produce some lovely progeny for their new owner.
And then, the hatching wars commenced. We had eggs pipping in the incubator, and I could hear Dora clucking encouragement to her eggs. Who would hatch the first chick?
As it happened, the incubator was first and we had these two little darlings by the following day!
It was around this time that we decided we now have too many chickens on the property to continue giving them names!
As sweet as they are, they will just be known as “Chick” from now on, and they all seem to answer to “food time!” anyway, so it won’t matter if they don’t each have a unique name.
Dora was not far behind though, and last night, we spotted a little white pom pom in her nest box. We didn’t get a very good look, though because she quickly gathered it under her wing and gave us the death glare, so we decided to leave well enough alone.
Dora is a good mother, keeping a watchful eye on her baby, and glaring and ruffling up at us, to warn us not to come any closer. I was convinced that there was a second chick in the nest with her, but we had not seen it yet. I think it probably hatched late last night, or early this morning, and mumma hen was keeping it warm while it completely dried out.
At the end of it all, all but three of the eggs hatched and delivered healthy, strong little chicks. Two died in late development, and the Crele egg that Dora rejected must have been non-viable for some reason as the chick sadly died in the shell.
Still, we have 10 healthy babies now and that, added to the 4 gold laced chicks, is a very good start to our wyandotte flock. I am quite satisfied.
- Just a Photo of a Hen who Thinks She Hatched a Litter of Kittens (treehugger.com)
- How to Deal With a Broody Hen (untrainedhousewife.com)
- Hatching Chicks with an Incubator (oohf.typepad.com)