Your Eggs Have Shipped

4Heggs

The hatching eggs for Little Dude’s 4-H hatching eggs have shipped.  According to the tracking information, they will be here sometime Tuesday, via USPS.  So… probably between 1 -2 p.m.

I have set up the incubator and am testing it now. It needs to be at 99.5 degrees fFahrenheit and I’m not sure about the humidity.  We don’t have a humidity tester, so I couldn’t tell anyway.  I’ve read that if you’re using shipped eggs, you should let them sit 12-24 hours before putting them in the incubator.   So this means I have a couple days to successfully test the incubator we borrowed, and if I don’t like how it runs, head out to Tractor Supply to get a new one.

 

 

Broody Watch – Candling Pavel’s Eggs 

Today marked the end of the first week for Pavelle and her eggs.   With the exception of Abby’s first-time hatch, I have been candling once a week leading up to Lock Down, to give me a better idea of how many chicks to anticipate.   Nothing was more disappointing than finding out Ava’s egg was infertile and that Pip was destined to be a singleton chick. (Of course, he has made up for it by being a good big brother to Abby’s subsequent hatches, so there is that.)

In preparation for Little Dude’s 4-H eggs, I have made a first time attempt at photographing the eggs as we candled them.

It’s only a week out and it’s kind of difficult at this point to accurately predict.  Also, the darker the egg shell, the harder it is to really tell what’s going on in there.

Luckily for Pavelle, her eggs are white-shelled and came out fairly clear.  You can see signs of development in all three eggs, which is promising.

Padme’s Easter Egger greens, however, are difficult.  I had a hard time with them when we gave some to Abby, too.   #1 and #3 are dark, with an outline.  This is how Abby’s EE eggs were, the ones that hatched.  I didn’t see much in the way of veins or anything with those very dark ones, but I got babies out of them.  I’m going to say, for now, that they have babies.  #2 — appears to be clear and empty.  I don’t see anything at all going on in there.  I’m going to wait until next Tuesday to level a final verdict on it.

But for now, I’m predicting five chicks.

Broody Girls

It’s spring, and after a long and snowy winter, in which the hens spent more time in the coop than outdoors.  The weather is warming up, the grass is growing.  Flowers, weeds and bugs are everywhere.  Life is good if you’re a chicken.

A couple of weeks ago, several of my hens started exhibiting signs of being broody.   Hanging out in the nests longer, or later in the day.  Puffed up feathers and growling or yelling while they are in the nest.  Growling and yelling at other hens when they are off the nest.

This kind of thing happens every spring.  Hens thinking that maybe they want to go brood on some eggs and raise some babies.  Its a natural, hormonal instinct for chickens, albeit one that the hatcheries have tried to breed out of their birds because egg/meat production is more profitable than hens sitting on eggs.   But if you’re a back yard chicken owner, homesteader, or farmer who wants a self-sustaining flock, a broody hen might be what you’re looking for.

My first year as a chicken owner, I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know if I wanted broody hens.  Most the websites and blogs who talk about broodies talk about how to broody break them, because most people want eggs.   And I had Abby, who went broody less than two months after laying her first egg.   I broke her the first time, but decided when she did it again a month later, that it wasn’t worth trying to break her again, and just gave her eggs.

Watching Abby raise her chick – the rooster now known on this blog as Pip – was all it took.  I was bitten hard by the bug, and now wait with anticipation for the sign of broodies I can give eggs to.  There is something of wonder about watching a mother hen raise her Littles, seeing them explore the world at her side.  Learn and grow, and become a part of the flock.

I also like seeing the way genetics plays out in the 2nd Gen chicks.  I have a small group of ‘barnyard mix’ hens and two mix roosters who are all very unique in their looks and personalities.

So… anyway… I had five hens who started to act like they might go broody.  Penelope, Claire, Julia, Rapunzel and Pavelle.

Penelope an Julia really didn’t do anything.  They did that last year, too.  Walked around bucky for a week or so and then just stopped.   I don’t expect this year to be different.

Claire is STILL puffing up while she’s on a nest and sometimes while she is off it.  Given that she actually DID go broody last spring, I’m watching her closely.  She might.  And she was a good momma, so I would have no qualms about giving her eggs.

Rapunzel went HARD. Rapunzel is a Buff Orpington and Orpingtons are known to be goody broodies.  Rapunzel spent the least time ‘going through the motions’ and after a couple of “well, maybe” days, she hopped in a nest and committed to sitting on ceramic eggs.   She is very dedicated to them, and I’m going to let her stick with the ceramic eggs because I have special plan for her.  Little Dude is going to be doing an Embryology project for 4-H, which means we will be hatching eggs in an incubator and documenting every step of the way.   I have eggs coming from My Pet Chicken, because Little Dude wanted Barred Rocks.  So we have 4 Barred Rock eggs and 6 “assorted” eggs, which could be any breeds, coming later this week.  I’ve decided that I will be giving Rapunzel the chicks that hatch from those eggs.  Hopefully, she will accept them as her own.  Otherwise, I will have to put them in the brooder and raise them separate of the rest of the flock.

In the meantime, Pavelle is sitting on six eggs.  Three are hers, and three came from Padme, the little Easter Egger hen.  They are the smallest eggs I have, even though Pavelle is very impressive when she is puffed up and screaming at you, she is still a small hen.  Any of the babies she raised will be bigger than her at 6 weeks of age.

If anyone else goes broody in the between time – I’m looking at you, Claire – I will probably share the wealth, rather than give more eggs.  Claire, for example, could take on some of the 4-H babies, so Rapunzel, who is a new mother, doesn’t have to raise a potential ten babies on her own.  But that is a big IF that has a lot of variables.  IF Claire or anyone else goes broody in the next 3-4 weeks.  IF the incubation is successful and all the eggs hatch.  I’ve never used an incubator before and I’m borrowing one from DH’s aunt for the project.  So many variables.

In the last picture, you can see that Pavelle and ‘Punzel are in a prime location. Pavelle will steal eggs from the nests around her, and I constantly have to check underneath her for extras. Which is funny because one time, she had three extras and they were sticking out because she is so small they don’t all fit!

 


Pavelle

Rapunzel

Hatching versus Eating 

Eggs!  If you have chickens, then you’ve got eggs.  A little or a lot of eggs mostly depends on the size of your flock, breed and time of year.  But still – you’ve got eggs.

I recently joined a new FB group for chicken lovers.  It’s bigger than the other one I was on, sees a lot more traffic, and has a wider range of chicken-experience.

A post from earlier today has me thinking.  The OP (original poster) sells her eggs $2.50 a dozen for eating and $5.00 a dozen for hatching.

She was contacted by a potential customer who wanted to know things like breeds, housing and care conditions, and if she washed/refrigerated her eggs.

Upon receiving answers, the woman tells the OP that she was wants a dozen, unwashed and unfridgerated and will only pay the $2.50.   The implication here, between the questions of breeds and living conditions, is that she wants hatching eggs.

The OP’s question is “should I sell at her terms, or refuse?”

A new debate has spawned, however.  How do you determine between hatching eggs and eating eggs? And more importantly, should you charge more them? Or less?

(For my international readers, I will make note that here in the U.S.A we have different laws regardless chicken eggs and it is our practice to wash and refrigerate th. I know you guys don’t.  That’s okay because I know your standard care and coop/barn cleaning procedures are different than ours.  We here in US just have to be different.)

Now… to the question(s) at hand.  What determines a hatching egg from an eating egg?

In the stores, eating eggs are not fertile.  I can’t stick one under a broody hen or in an incubator and get chicks.  Or, in most cases, I shouldn’t be able to.  I’ve heard that it happens on occasion.

They are not fertile because the hens and roosters are separated and no hanky lanky has been allowed to happen that might lead to a fertilized egg.

On farms or in backyards across the world, however, there are people raising all kinds of chickens, both male and female.  Hen and Roo.  Chances are good, if you have a rooster, the eggs you collect each day are fertile.  At least some of them.

So… what makes the difference in whether I eat them or use them to raise chicks?

I guess, honestly?  In my case, nothing.  Most of mine are going to be barnyard mix – mutts with a little bit of every chicken breed I’ve brought home in the last 2 years – so I don’t tend to sell them.  I have given some away to friends in the past and know they got nine chicks of a dozen eggs, so 75% hatch rate.

I do sell my excess eggs, usually to people who want to eat farm fresh eggs.  And I’ve been known to slip a few under my broody hens, so I can have cute chicks.

However, there are people who started out as backyard chicken keepers or hobby farmers who have gotten “bit by the bug” and went full on Breeder.  They have different coops for different breeds, separate areas for breeding pens, have their flocks up to date on all immunizations and went the extra mile to become NPIP certified.

These people have gone the extra mile, put a lot of money and time and effort into their chickens that goes way beyond caring for pets.

As NPIP certified, they are legally capable of setting up shop (a physical store or even a website) and selling their wares – eggs for eating, eggs for hatching, day-old chicks, started pullets, etc.  NPIP means they can be a business.  Or they could just specialize in a couple breeds in their back yard.

And that also means they can, and probably should, charge for hatching eggs.

How much should they charge?  Honestly? I don’t know that either.  My favorite site for buying hatching eggs asks different prices for different breeds, different prices if you’re asking for an assortment, and different process for heritage or heirloom birds (these are birds who come from pure bred, non-hatchery stock).  All the variables make all different prices.

For example:

This does NOT include the price for shipping and handling or tax.

I had a breeder friend whom I know from FB sell me 14 eggs for $40. They were not all the same breed, and some were very rare breeds.  I personally think I got a fairly good deal.

Okay, now… before I start rambling and going off on tangents… how about you, dear readers?

Do you sell eggs? For eating or hatching or both?  Do you charge more for the hatching eggs?  Or just give them away like I do?

Do you have (or think there should be) different criteria for what makes an egg a ‘hatching egg’?

Or, if you’re tuning in from somewhere in Europe, are you still trying to wrap your mind around the fact that we wash our eggs and put them in the refrigerator?

I’m curious, and as I’ve shared my rambling thoughts with you, I’m hoping you’ll share yours with me.

Chicks!

So here’s an update on all the chicks.   Abby’s and Ashley’s both.

So, I’ll start with Abby’s chicks.  Most of her eggs hatched yesterday, a day early.

Five of them hatched yesterday, and Abby held on to the other egg until mid morning and then she moved off the nest to eat and drink.  When she does that, I know the egg won’t hatch, so I removed it.

Of the five remaining babies, one of them passed sometime this afternoon.  I found it when I came back from grocery shopping.  Sad because it was the cutest one (IHMO) and the one I liked the looks of the best.

I am very disappointed about the little yellow-ish colored one. He was different looking from the others.

img_0759
Pip!

Okay, so Pip isn’t one of Abby’s new Littles, but he washer very first Little.  He spent most of yesterday going in and out of the coop, pacing and just seemed to be hanging out. He and Abby have a special bond. I have often observed that even though most people don’t give chickens credit for ‘family ties’ in the way we humans think of family, Pip and Abby seem to have it.  He has ‘helped’ watch after her other hatches, being the protective big brother to Pavel, Hershey and the Boys all summer.  He is respectful of her.  In my mind, he was pacing the coop yesterday because he could hear the change in her soft buck-bucks and hear the peeps of the babies,and he knew that his Momma was having her babies.

Today is a different story and he was outside helping Papa Dots watch over the flock!  But yesterday he was waiting to be a big brother again. Pip, btw, will be 1 year old on the 29th. Happy Birthday, Baby Boy!

Now… Ashley’s babies… some of whom could either be Pip’s little siblings or offspring depending on which hens mated with which rooster… are going to be four weeks old this Sunday.

They are STILL here. They are, however, very difficult to ‘pen down’ to get pictures of. Ashley has kind of reared them to be wild.   I walk out to watch them and they run as far away from me as they can.

I did manage to scoop them up and get some comparative pictures tonight, so we can see how they are, and make some early guesses on Hen or Roo.

First up here is Miracle Max.  Max is the biggest.  No longer yellow, he is mostly white, reminding me a lot of Eugenie.  He (I’m guessing Roo) has a big comb, which is already slightly pinkish and the beginnings of jowly wattles.

This one is is Dalmie #1.   She has a black spot on her back and a little higher up on her shoulders, otherwise all white. Smaller comb and almost non-existent wattles. She’s slim in body and has slightly more slender legs.

In case you can’t guess, I’m betting on a little henny with this one.

This is the Dalmie #2.  He has a big comb and the start of jowly wattles, but his comb isn’t as pink as Max’s.   He’s mostly white, but with a strip of black in his tail and a splotch of up in his hackle feathers.

I included a picture of his feet. Both of the Dalmie’s have slightly grey legs.  It’s like a combination of the Golden Comet yellow with the grey of the Australorp.   I’m willing to bet anything that the Dalmies are white Australorp crosses.

 

This is Felicia, aka the Cinnamon Bun.  I promised a friend I would name one Bye Felicia… and this is the one we chose to bear that name… and I can’t decide if Felicia is really Felicia…. or Felipe.   Smaller comb, but bigger than Dalmie #1’s.  Slightly noticeable jowls… but not quite.

This chick also is one of the bolder of the four, and I’ve seen him/her butt chests with Max.  That’s usually a sign of a boy, except that I’ve seen hens do it, too, even at that age.

Felicia is my Question Mark.  Hen, Roo… this chick is going to keep me guessing.

And while you all are guessing … here’s a video I took this morning of the four of them, plus Ashley, playing  a rousing game of “It’s mine! It’s mine!” with something they foraged out of the grass.

 

One of these days, I need to write down my thoughts on the different types of chicken parenting I have observed this year. Abby, Claire and Ashley each have exhibited vastly different styles of chick raising. Abby is a helicopter mom, always close to her chicks, always near by. Vicious if you threaten them. She isn’t afraid to lay into the hen or rooster who get close to her babies. She barely trusts me with them. Claire is an overseer, who leads her babies outside,demonstrates skills and watches them practice til they learn. She lets them roam, but guards the space she’s designated as theirs. No one goes in or out without her leave. Ashley is very hands off and scatter brained. Her babies follow her, learn from watching, but she often just wanders off and leaves them alone while she forages elsewhere. They freak out, cry and cry until she returns. Vastly different from my other mother hens.

Yes, that is a post for another day,when I have more time to collect and present my thoughts. 🙂

 

Four Feather Babies

Well, Ashley pushed the last egg out of her next this morning, walked around and made an attempt to convince her babies to follow her outside.  They did not.

Assuming she was telling me that the last egg was not going to hatch, I removed it from the coop and got her and the four remaining babies some food and water.

The other egg, the one she was trying to ‘help’ the other day… also died.  I figured it would if it couldn’t get out on its own.

So Ashley has four little wee feather babies.

Here’s a video of them from yesterday.

I’ve removed them from the laying bed they were in and into the cat carrier.  It’s a little snug for a bigger hen like an Australorp, but still a safe place for the Wee Ones to be.

 

Miracle Max


So this feather baby is the only one who has a name right now.  

Miracle Max.  Or Maxie. If it’s a girl. 

My poor little miracle baby somehow managed to wander outside while Ashley was sitting on the last unhatched egg.  And got cold.  So cold that he/she was in deaths door when I found him this evening.  

I scooped him up and cupped him in my hands for warm, carried him inside and tucked him under Ashley.  He was breathing, but weak and chilled.  I figured that his only hope was body heat and the company of his siblings.  

I was right.  By lock up time, Max was up and around, playing with his siblings and eating chick starter.  

Truly a miracle baby.  

(Name courtesy of The Princess Bride.)  

First Look at the Babies

Yesterday, Ashley the Australorp became a mother.

This is the first little one I saw.  You can’t tell, but it has black spots on it’s back.
And peeking out from behind, a little yellow one with no black on it.  (Possible Buff Orp)
A 3rd with a cinnamon red color.  Possible RiR, Possible sexlink/comet.  Really could be the sexlink because the RiRs tend to be darker.  And look!  You can see the black spots on the first chick!

I wound up with a fourth chick as of last night, also yellow with black spots.  Two more eggs to account for, but today is the actual hatch date, so it could take a day or two for them to hatch.

In the meantime, here’s a video of yesterday’s four, being cute:

 

And Ashley being the cross-momma because I was messing with her babies:

I’m headed down there right now to feed and check on the current baby situation.  Here’s hoping for more chicks and momma who wants to be the momma. *crosses fingers*

Hatching Day Came Early

So, last night I was worried that Ashley being off the nest would cause the unhatched babies to die.  

This morning, I have three peeping babies, two working on hatching and one still remaining.  

One of the two partially hatched eggs looking like Ashley was trying to help it.  The shell is picked off on one side but not the membrane.  The baby was breathing but not broken free.  I’ve read that unless you know what you’re doing and very careful, ‘helping’ is not something we humans should do.  We risk shrink-wrapping the chick in the membrane so I’m not sure I should try and help it along or leave and see it gets out on it’s own or with help from Momma. 

The troubling thing is that Ashley was once again off the eggs.  When I found her, she was in the next nest with the egg she was ‘helping’ while the three chicks were sitting confused with the other eggs.  I put her back, but I am worried that she isn’t going to be reliable as a mother hen.  She can’t just leave the babies while they are trying to hatch and keep warm.  

No pictures as of yet.  The three babies I saw were yellow/white and one of them had a black spot on the back of its head.  

Broody Hen on Lockdown 

Well, today is Day 19 of Ashley’s quest to become a momma. 

And it may be her last.  


This morning I went down to feed the chickens and let them outside, like usual.  I set up the cat carrier above in the coop, with fresh bedding and placed in a spot in the underneath where it wasn’t in direct line of the wind/etc.  

Ashley was on her nest.  Today is Day 19.  If she were an incubator, it would be lockdown.  No touching, no opening the incubator.  Maximum warmth. 

I came down tonight to find Ashley on another nest and the eggs cold.  Not cold cold, but cold enough to cause me alarm.  

Today’s temperatures were in the 40’s and 50’s with rain and wind.  

It looks like Ashley got off the nest to eat/drink and someone else got in her nest. There was an extra egg.  

But I have no clue when the other hen got off the nest or how long it had been since they were left alone. 

I wasn’t home more of the day, so there’s no way of knowing for sure.

I removed the extra egg and put Ashley back in her nest.  If nothing hatches on Monday I will likely put her in the broody breaker.  

😞