Well we certainly have been busy around here! We have received all our shipments of live chicks and here’s how it’s going…
The Welsummers are getting so big! They look like little hawks. When we got them they were NUTS but I am happy to say they have really mellowed out. Better still I think I only have 5 roosters out of a batch of 25 straight runs! If this is really the case I am super happy… I had planned to have them outside by now and growing up in an empty horse stall but the weather has taken another crazy turn and it’s been brutally cold at night, getting down to 10 degrees. The Welsummers are inside, in a 50 degree basement, with no heat bulb, but I was told they can only handle 20 degree drops in temperature before starting to die. So they’re a bit stuck at the moment. SIGH. This photo was taken a week ago.Oh how they have grown since! We were shipped 26 and only one died. Super happy with them.
Having decided to order 100 Brabanters and whittle them down to the best, I must say I don’t know how this experiment will end. They are ADORABLE but exceedingly prone to panic. No matter how much time I spend around them they still insist on stampeding every time I give them fresh food, change their water, or clean them out, which is at least six times a day so they should be used to it! I was told Lakenvelder put the neurosis in neurotic but Brabanters were sweeter Dutch breed, curious, friendly, and intelligent. I am really wondering about that now! As far as the whittling goes we had 15 self-culls – that is 3 dead on arrival, and 11 dying in the first few days probably mostly because they had severe polyuria and probably were dehydrated, going through a gallon and a half of water a day for the first few days (to put that in perspective they don’t even drink that much now at a month old!) This resolved itself in two days and I don’t know what caused it, stress perhaps? I had read you can have up to 300 chicks in one brooder without crushing/smothiering becoming a problem but it appears we lost half of deaths to this – maybe because of their panicy nature. In the future our brood boxes will hold no more than 50 hatchlings. Lastly we lost one to Stupid Baby Syndrome. It was several weeks old when I ran out of baby crumbles at midnight. I threw A LOT of table scraps and other foodstuffs in the brooder for them to eat until I could get up a few hours later to go to the feed store. The other chicks loved the feast and ate heartily. This one couldn’t figure it out, screamed all night, and died while I was driving home with food. SIGH.
As for the regular culls… so far I have ended up with one with scissorbeak and another one I suspect may develop it. 13 others ended up being Cream not Gold. I was told not to focus on color when culling BUT creams have been worked on a lot longer by private breeders than Gold. If I decided to get into cream I’d just buy eggs from them instead of muck around with hatchery stock. I am waiting for their combs and wattles to come in so I can continue whittling them down. Initially I was hopeful to end up with a breeding group of 15 or so… now I think 10 would be pushing it but we’ll see!
The Red-Laced White Cornish:
We received a replacement order of White Laced Red Cornish after that whole shipping catastrophe. However when they showed up they were tiny, WEAK, wobbly, and screaming. I put Save-a-chick in their water, I adjusted the lightbulb repeatedly over the course of two days – nothing seemed to please them. A half an inch difference in the height of the light was enough to cause mass huddling or pancaking to the bottom. They all ended up with pasty butt. I fed them scrambled eggs, which they ate, and constantly cleaned up their little fuzzy butts, but after a week I was down to six who by that time had moved to the living room so I could keep an eye on them. Even those were touch and go but now they are doing well. One, I believe to be a rooster, is already trying to fight with any human hand that goes into the brood box. SIGH. Sadly, this is part of the reason I adore Cornish – their pugnacious little attitudes. I promised to tether the rooster if he’s too much of a bastard to keep my beau from being attacked! I will be crossing them with the Dorkings in hopes of a better meat bird. In the meantime I will enjoy any hens that result from this which will be more than welcome to lay eatin’ eggs for me. I just love their intelligence and foraging abilities and the fact they look like little dinosaurs. What’s not to love?
The Silver-Gray Dorkings:
By the time the Dorkings had arrived I wasn’t feeling particularly hopeful. Having watched the Cornish drop like flies I was more than a little irritated to find that half of this shipment was also small, wobbly, and weak. The other half was normal size, peeping, and healthy. I put the light lower than I normally would, put Save-a-chick in the water and repeatedly showed the slow ones the food and water. This time the losses were less than the Cornish but still not great! We lost 13 of a batch of 50. I read somewhere that hatcheries use the first eggs laid by their pullets which can result in preemie-like babies who are super sensitive and prone to death. I wonder if this is not what is happening. Perhaps I ordered at the wrong part of the year. The Dorkings that have lived are super calm, LOVE fresh food, and are very quiet. I am liking this breed. They will serve well as dual purpose birds on our farm. Dorkings have a weird freak extra toe.
I have been trying to get at least one of my two incubators working correctly so I can hatch eggs. The chicks I ordered from a hatchery are great but I am using them to produce eating eggs and meat. I know they’re not great quality. What I really want to do is add some rare breeds so I can sell hatching eggs and chicks someday. The easiest way to do this is get eggs from quality stock and hatch them here. So I popped in a dozen Serama eggs (given to me for free) to test my Hova-bator and I managed to have ONE survive and maybe hatch in a few days. Four started to develop but stopped at some point, and this last one…. I don’t know. I am sort of hoping it doesn’t hatch because I have no one to put it with! SIGH.
These incubator problems have become super annoying because at long last I FINALLY found someone local who may have miniature appleyard ducks which I have been looking for for months and planning on raising long before we moved.. Even better yet he’s not using the eggs they’re laying until April so he offered to give me whatever he collects for free if I want to try my hand at hatching them. UGH! Need a working incubator!
If I do miraculously get the incubators to work we have to look forward to Cream Legbars and Tolbunt Polish from a local breeder and Seramas from other states.