It’s been quite some time since our last post – but we haven’t forgotten about you! We’ve just been very busy starting the Briars Market, working, doing some renovations and … hatching Plymouth Rock chicks.
Sorry for the poor quality video. It seemed fine when taking the video but the upload is shabby.
Rach has been keen on getting some Plymouth Rock chicks for quite some time. I contacted a local chicken man, and was placed on a waiting list in July 2015. At the end of September, Craig let me know that he had some fertilised Plymouth Rock eggs available.
Late September, we put the fertilised eggs into our cheap Chinese egg incubator (it’s a Janoel 48 for those interested). We put some water underneath the eggs and away it went. The positive with these sorts of incubators is that they’re automatic turners – a real godsend!
My learning on egg incubation has been solely on ducklings which take 28 days. Ducklings and chicks require quite similar egg incubation techniques overall, so we weren’t expecting the eggs to hatch until about the 24th of October. As it turns out, chicken eggs actually only take about 20-21 days (with some exceptions up to 26 days). We got quite the surprise one evening while watching some television, let me assure you!
Since we heard the first cheeping, we’ve had to do some research, rig up some make-shift heating and buy food for the chicks. It was very unfortunate timing considering the first Briars Market was 3 days after the first chicks hatched and we already had little time!
In quick time, 8 little chicks hatched reasonably well (one chick took a little longer than the others, so we ended up assisting it by taking some of the shell off). We know that we’re not supposed to assist little chicks when they’re hatching, but we couldn’t help ourselves on our first try. And it seemed to work out well, even though the chick is a bit smaller.
So far it’s been really exciting – they’re getting very curious and today I let them outside for a little while as you can see from the photos and video.
At this stage we aren’t sure what gender the birds are, and Rach has done some research into how to tell as soon as possible. I think her plan is to house them at her Mum’s when they’re a little more mature.
I spoke to Jarrod Ruch at the Briars about culling the roosters. The Briars has a flock of Dorkings, and he deals with the birds when required. To kill the older birds, he breaks their neck. To kill the day-olds, he pulls off their head. I’m not sure whether I’m capable of culling the Plymouth Rock chicks (or any others) via this manner so I might do a bit more research! Any boys in this batch are safe for a while.
For those interested in the actual incubation process for the chicks, Rach might make a post when she’s got a bit more free time.