Thursday, May 12, 2011

We made chickens!


Two adorable little chicks joined our menagerie Tuesday evening.  These are the very first we've ever incubated and hatched ourselves and while I know I didn't really make them, it was such an exciting feeling to know that these were chicks we helped bring up.  They weren't purchased from the hatchery.  We did it. 

Here are a few photos and an explanation of the process.  I'll warn you, in case you're having your breakfast and morning coffee, that there's a little bit of blood when they first hatch.  It's normal and natural of course but just in case you're squeamish...

I candled the eggs at 8 days and thought there were at least two that were developing. I really couldn't tell with most of the other eggs and I couldn't see through the blue eggs at all. I figured we'd leave them all to chance and put them all in the incubator to see what happened. So while 2 chickens out of a dozen doesn't sound like much, it's about what I was expecting.




The eggs were in the incubator with an automatic turner which slowly rotates the eggs, mimicking what a momma chicken would do, for 19 days.  At day 19, 3 days before they're to hatch, we removed the turner, allowing the eggs to sit still, preparing to hatch.  We've had to maintain a constant temperature and humidity level during the incubation time which means checking the levels and adjusting a couple of times a day.  During the last phase of incubation the humidity is between 70% - 80% and the temp is at 99.5F.  Sweltery!  The humidity helps keep the emerging chick from sticking to the inside of the egg.


The baby chicken starts pecking thousands of times until it pokes a hole (called pipping) in the eggshell and starts to breathe air.  They slowly rotate inside the egg, pecking and "zipping" the inner membrane to prepare for their big push into the world.  The entire process can take up to 24 hours.  That's a lot of work for a tiny little chick.

Hubby had a live feed set up so we could watch the hatching on our TV, which was awesome.  We watched as the shell swelled and rocked with the chick's efforts and finally...pop!  Out he came!  It was truly amazing to see.  Tiny feather still wet, wobbly and weak, he started flopping around the incubator like he was playing soccer with the other eggs.  I worried about his brother who was emerging on the other side of the incubator but he managed just fine.





We let them dry off in the incubator overnight and then put them in the brooding box under a heat lamp.  The kids kept checking in, announcing when they felt the chickens were fluffy enough to hold.  (not yet, boys)



They've started running around in short bursts, drinking a little, eating a little, standing in their food...


We'll keep them under the heat lamp for a few weeks until they're able to move into their coop, separated from the big chickens.


We'll try another batch next week and with luck we'll have even more success.

If you've read this far, thank you for putting up with my chicken obsession. 
Have a great day.



29 comments:

Tree Dellinger said...

Why, oh why, must they always stand in their food? : )

Jane said...

That was so cool to watch. I have friends who have laying hens and one has a rooster but so far - nothing has come from the mix. I can't wait to share this with them. Aren't they so cute?

Sonia said...

awww Lisa, congrats on the new babies !! They are totally adorable !
oxoxo

candacejean said...

I have a chicken obsession! Thank you so much for sharing progress pictures and details of the event. So fun! Congratulations on new little ones!

Tumus said...

YAY! Congrats ^_^ This is big news to any farmer or urban farmer. It means you can successfully complete a full cycle of life on your own!!^_^ Very cute, they look like they're posing already.
Btw what breed were the ones that hatched? I sincerely wish we could keep a coop out back but our neighbors and our city won't tolerate it.

Nancy said...

How cool! I can't wait to try incubation with ours in a couple weeks. No auto turner, and heard not so good outcomes with a basic incubator like I just got.

Elise/One Woman, Reinvented said...

This is great! I really enjoyed seeing the process.

Mousy Brown said...

We grew two the old fashioned way a couple of years ago (hen + cockerel + 3weeks under a fluffy bum)but now they are older I had forgotten just how magic those times were - it gets even better as they grow up too! Thanks for reminding me of the joy and letting me join in with your obsession, have fun! :D

silver.work said...

Heeeeeeyyyyyy . . . . that chicken has my haircut.

Colleen said...

Congratulations! What kind of chickens are they?

crookedlittlehouse said...

Wow, I've never actually seen this before. It doesn't look at all like it does in children's books. You've taken great photographs. Thanks for educating this old ignorant lady!

goodthings88 said...

This is incredible!!! Thanks for sharing!

joanie said...

I see the resemblance ;)

Wow! So exciting. Have you named them yet? I love that last photo. Add chicken portrait photographer to your long list of skills Lisa.

And a self-turning incubator, live video feed??? Self sufficiency is getting very hi-tech ;)

Jx

ecokaren said...

You just solved the century old question - what came first? Chicken or the egg. The incubator!!!

Owlie said...

hooray! congrats, that is so exciting!!! how cute are they all fluffy and with their big feet!?! i have been wanting to get chickens for a while, i am hoping that will manifest this year. i have been trying to get in contact with a woman who told me she would give me a few chickens if i wanted, so hopefully i will hear from her!
have a wonderful thursday!

Lisa said...

I didn't realize they were a little messy either that was really exciting thanks for that!
Lookig forward to watching them grow!

jamjar said...

Ahhhh lovely! I have eggs under a broody hen at the moment, It is the first time I have done this as well as the hen!! So your post was especially interesting. Thanks for sharing.

sudukc said...

When I was young raised two baby chicks...one made it the other didn't. But the one that made it lived to a ripe old age...1st with me as a pet until his crowing got to the neighbors. Next at my great aunts, she even put hens in her chicken yard for him...I was all but forgotton then. And finally at a breeders farm where he became an award winning stud (whatever that means). He would always come to the fence when I called even as a award winning stud but never again after meeting the hens would he let me hold and cuddle him...must have been a macho deal.

umelecky said...

Hi Lisa. This was really cool to see. Thanks for sharing your chicken experience. You really do have a lot going on there! Good luck with everything!

Sarah Melling said...

Congratulations! I'm happy to have added you to my blog list, and when the thumbnail of your little chick popped up, I couldn't resist reading all about your new additions. I have a bit if a chicken obsession myself, which comes out now and again on my drawing blog.)

Margie Oomen said...

oh my the cuteness

Marie said...

Oh, they are so cute! I have been watching an eagles nest via cam in Iowa and it is amazing to watch them hatch and grow.
Love,
Marie

Laura said...

What a neat experience! My most memorable event in kindergarten was hatching duck eggs. Chickens seem pretty amazing too!

HollyM said...

How beautiful and fascinating! Do you raise then for the eggs or for food? Just interested in the whole process.

Brooke said...

fun! congrats on your first hatching!

Tara said...

That is amazing, Lisa. I adore that last picture. Congratulations!

Terrie said...

So sweet! GREAT to see how they're coming. Thanks for sharing. Earger to see the little things growing.

Barbara said...

Congratulations on your new chicks! They are so cute.

Peace!

k said...

very cool Lisa. I remember having chicks one year as a kid (we had chickens, but only hatched more once). such a cool process the way they make their way out into the world.

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