Chicks hatching

The first of 2008\'s hatchlings

Our first batch of Scots Grey eggs for 2008 started hatching early this morning. I woke just before 5am as sun started to filter through the bedroom window, and the first thing I heard was the peeping of a chick. We keep the incubator in the snug, so I padded through to find one chick out of its shell and several more pipping their shells. By the time I took the boys to school, we were up to three and when I returned home four. A further one had emerged by lunchtime. I took them out to the brooder cage in the old cottage to free up space in the incubator, and took the opportunity to photograph this one on the way.


The chicks settle into their home for the next four weeks.

Three of the chicks in their brooder cage. When they’re loosely scattered like this, the heat lamp is at the correct height and they’re neither too hot nor too cold. If they’re clustered together in a pile under the centre of the lamp, it’s too far away and they’re cold. If the chicks are well away from the centre of the lamp, then it’s too close and they’re too hot. We bed ours on cardboard covered with a layer of wood shavings. The drinker is placed on a plank so the chicks don’t fill it with shavings. It’s important to teach them to peck and drink at intervals throughout the first 48 hours. I splash the water with my fingers and pop the tip of their beak in the water to kick the drinking instinct off. To get them pecking, I dribble chick crumbs onto a cleared piece of cardboard. Eventually, one of the chicks will peck at the crumbs and then the rest will follow suit.

There are still 12 eggs to go

This Scots Grey chick has only been out of its shell for a few seconds. We started with 18 eggs, all fertilised by Johnny (our Inverurie cockerel) and discarded one at first candling. Five of the remaining 17 have hatched, while another two have started pipping in the last hour or so. All but one of the other eggs show signs of movement when candled so we should have more hatching overnight. In theory, hatching should have been from noon tomorrow, being three weeks from the date the eggs went into the incubator, but nature doesn’t work to an exact timetable. Over the next week, we’ll collect eggs fertilised by Orville (our Welsh cockerel) and start them off in the incubator next Tuesday. We need at least a dozen pullets, and preferably 16, to replace our oldest ISA Browns, so we’ll probably need to do a third hatching later on.

12 Responses to “Chicks hatching”

  1. mummys little angel Reply 27 May, 2008 at 06:27

    I have just hatched a couple and now have 6 marans in the incubator ready for hatching this weekend ish

  2. Candling? I’ve just looked it up and found some fantastic images.

  3. We’re hatching more turkey chicks today, run no2 consisting of 40 eggs, & have a much awaited hatch of nankin eggs due at weekend so crossing our fingers very hard for at least 7 rooster chicks to bring on & get the best pick for breeding as we lost our nankin rooster last year to a feral cat.

    Other than that, got a batch of white croad langshan bantams & cuckoo maran bantams just gone in icubator 3, 2 shetland hens each sitting on 18 bantam eggs & hope to have some chocolate muscovy & lavender muscovy eggs arrive with a visitor next week.

  4. We’re up to six strong chicks, one struggling chick and one dead chick (hatched, but still had a large yolk sac and died an hour later). The rest of the eggs are pipping at the moment.

    I smuggled two chicks into nursery this morning, much to the delight of the children (and to the horror of one member of staff who was muttering about health and safety). :D

  5. mummys little angel Reply 28 May, 2008 at 06:41

    oh good grief did the chick go on the rampage and attack the children then? After all they are related to T-rex…the dinosaur not the singer. mmmm come to think of if they are one in the same!

    One of my children’s schools actually requested I bring a chick in to show the children…no begged would be a better word to use.

  6. A risk assessment is supposed to done first, suitable protective clothing provided, there needs to be washing facilities, and there need to be guidelines covering what the children can and can’t do. Much easier and more fun to smuggle the chicks in!

    Anyway, another two chicks hatched overnight with a third emerging now. The poorly one is still alive after 24 hours so I’ve drip fed it a little warm milk blended with a tiny amount of oatmeal. Normally, they wouldn’t need feeding for 48 hours but this one needs the liquid.

  7. We recently took some week old chicks to melanie’s pre-school, the teachers begged us to bring them in. The kids thought they were fantastic, especially when they pooed on the carpet and my jeans.lol
    This was followed two weeks later by a visit from Heidi, our Saanen x British Alpine doe kid, she was a week old, and placidly sat on my lap and accepted hugs and pats from all the kids.
    None of us mentioned “proper procedure” and everyone had a ball.

  8. mummys little angel Reply 28 May, 2008 at 17:47

    So what’s wrong with the washing facilities they have then? Are they not adequate?

    As for clothing, oh dear I now have vision of CSI and their white suits and goggles. What’s wrong with a paper towel on their laps if they are going to hold them?

    Sorry Stoney I do think the nursery is being a bit OTT in wrapping every child in cotton wool. I bet the smuggled chicks were a huge hit!

  9. Just a quickie.. I had a wee thought :)

    Do you sell P.O.L. birds? also could selling your birds to the paying public help supplement the rising costs in energy?

    Not sure how much it would cost to raise from egg to 18-20 wks. There is a place down here that is selling birds for £25.00 each and they are not rare breed.. they also sell hybrids for £18.00 each.

  10. Our long-term plan is to sell pullets in the same way that we sell weaner pigs. However, Scots Greys are a rare breed and while they’ve recovered somewhat—from 200 hens left in the UK two years ago to 300 now—it’s still quite difficult to source enough breeding stock from different lines.

    We’re now up to almost 30 Scots Greys plus the nine chicks from this hatching and have plans to hatch 12-18 pullets this year. If we can pull that off, we might be in a position to sell a few birds and/or hatching eggs next year.

    I can’t see us getting £25 a bird, though. A very, very good Rhode Island Red cockerel sold at auction up here recently for £30 and that was really pushing the boat out. We might get £15 on a good day, especially when you can buy ISA Browns for £8.50 each, delivered.

  11. Hi Stoney I’d be interested in a few Scotties too if/when you get to the numbers that allow it…….(and would pay a proper price!).

  12. go,orville! last i heard of him he was a show horse, and not a work horse!

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