Tag Archives: Eggs

Lesson 435 – Bring one with them

Well you know it was bound to happen. When one invites and starts writing about chickens into your life, one starts getting lots of very neat chicken things.

I have one friend (hi Diane) who takes great delight in finding chicken jewelry treasures on the internet. She’s a frequent recipient of our girls’ eggs and to thank us (them) she brings over some of the greatest chicken items I’ve seen (over which I oohh and aahh like a little kid.)

Take for example this blue rooster cocktail (get it) ring? How beautiful is that little gem? To be truthfully honest, I haven’t had the opportunity to wear it yet but just look out this holiday season. I will, no doubt, be the belle of any ball.

And then there is this broach which is sort of like one of those triangle puzzles, just how many chickens can you find within the piece? I love to wear this piece when I give a chicken workshop, (which I do for our town and libraries) it kind of identifies me as “one with them.” It’s my badge of sorority with the chicks. Continue reading

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Lesson 418 – The compulsion of eggs

I recently came across this little bit of interesting hen information:

“Did you know… To produce one egg, it takes a hen 26-28 hours, and to do so, she requires 5 oz. of food & 10 oz. of water. After a thirty minute rest period she starts all over again! That’s one busy chick!”

I just think it’s amazing that these birds are so programmed to constantly produce like this. Granted, they slow down in the winter but they don’t stop. We’ll still be getting eggs from this endless production cycle.

You couldn’t stop this cycle if you wanted. It’s not within your reach to halt it anyway. It’s something that’s innate, a need, a compulsion to create this egg within her body and then to push it out, over and over and over.

It’s hard work, and just because millions and millions of other hens are also doing this, doesn’t mean that it comes without pain and some temporary discomfort. Continue reading

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Lesson 366 – Update on our littlest – Alkaia

Time for a littlest one update.

So many of you have asked about Alkaia that I thought I’d give you a bit of an update. This little one, the one we saved from being trapped inside her egg, remains the tiniest of the flock. She is so darn cute. She doesn’t run so much as hop all over the place and, like a toddler, if she hits uneven ground she tumbles over, picks herself up and continues on her way. Like a miniature the Bumble from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, she seems to bounce.

Here is a close-up of Alkaia. She is just beginning to get her pin wing feathers, you can see them starting to pop out. Mostly though, she is still covered with her baby down which makes her cute but with the temps going down into the 50’s the other night (just days after the day temps were in the 100’s go figure) she would will not be ready to go out to the henhouse for some time.

Compare her feathers and size to those of her sibling in this picture. The brown chick is well on her (possibly his – do you see that butt-bling?) way to being fully feathered. In about 2.5 weeks, she’ll be ready to go out to the henhouse to join our adult flock. By the way, the criteria for joining the adult flock is not only possessing a set of full-feathers but also being large enough so that you don’t fit through the fencing (which Alkaia does all the time).

But then there is little Alkaia. Here she is with one of her lighter colored siblings. Not only is she far behind in feather production but she’s also holding in stature at roughly 1/3 the size of the others. A standout definitely and one on which we need to keep a constant eye when we let her outside to play.

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Lesson 362 – A rooster’s butt-bling

You know that deep feeling of dread you sometimes get in the pit of your stomach. That “oh no, here it comes” sensation when you start feeling the wheels leaving the road – that the older you get, the more you pay attention to?

Whelp, I’ve got it big time, right now.

In looking through the photos yesterday, this one in particular jumped out at me.

I flagged it and every now and then I’d go back to it. Could it be? Nah, there’s no way, these chicks are only 2 weeks old, there is no.way. on.earth it can be what I think it might be.

But then in one of those great co-incidences of the Universe, Spencer came up to my office yesterday and said “Mom, I hate to break this to you but I think at least 3 of the chicks are roosters.”

Apparently he had noticed that when he put his hand in with the chicks 3 of them would essentially attack him. He said that he also noticed that they had those “things” (combs aka wads of chewing gum) starting on the top of their heads.

Hmmm, I said as I turned to my computer. Was this one of the chicks?

Spencer looked carefully at the photo. “Yup, that’s her, er, I guess now it’s him.”

Now that we are experienced chicken owners, I can tell you that those large feet on that chick? Not a good sign and that little tuft of feathers in the back is probably not butt-bling. It is most probably (but I’ll still give her the benefit of the doubt until we’re absolutely sure) the beginnings of a beautiful tail.

And I know the chick’s tail will be beautiful because I had seen the Dad: Rocky Road.

The farm where I had gotten the fertilized eggs had said they will take back all roosters so I’m not worried about the nuisance a rooster might (will) cause to our neighbors, but I also know that all extra roosters are donated to the local food pantry around the holidays.

And while that’s a noble and on some level very ethical thing to do and I understand that it’s the right thing to do, I still don’t have to like it.

 

Tomorrow the littlest one gets her name – you’re going to like it.

(and she better not be a rooster)

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Lesson 361 – my what big little feathers you have

The growth of these chicks is simply amazing.

What a big chick

Coming up on their 2 week birthday you can see that many have lost much (but not all) of their baby down and have replaced it with the feathers they’ll need to keep them warm.

Two days ago I turned off the heating lamp in their nursery. Each day after they’re born you’re supposed to raise it a bit higher as the chicks grow feathers which keep them warm. Ah, but then we had the littlest one whom I would always find directly under the light taking her naps, concerned about her welfare I kept the light going a little longer, a little closer than I normally would have.

This week we’re expecting the heat wave that has socked the mid-west, you can bet that no heating element will be on in the chick’s crate. We’ll be covering windows and keeping a fan on to circulate the room air as best we can.

Now to the down-side of baby chicks, as all moms know with growth comes poor table manners and prolific poop. Little chicks make little poops, big chicks make bigger and stinkier poop. Our downstairs is starting once again to smell like a barn (we change the bedding every other day). Not only is there more poop but they tip over the water (soaking the poop infested wood chips) and they spread their feed all over that soaking mess. Old McDonald had nothing on our house.

The results is well, rather odoriferous. We’ll not be having many dinner parties until these chicks move outdoors which if they keep at this rate should be in about 3 more weeks. I can last for 3 more weeks, I can last, I can.

Except for the littlest one – see her in the middle there? She STILL hasn’t sprouted one feather and has retained all of her baby down. Although we’re in the summer months (weeks) of New Hampshire, if she doesn’t have her feathers by the third week of August, she won’t be able to spend the nights in the hen house, it would be too cold for her.

Marc is still trying to deal with the fact that we now have a bunny on top of the dogs and chickens (and kids) – I don’t think I want to even mention the fact that there is a possibility we may be having an indoor chicken this coming winter.

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Lesson 360 – One of the reasons we have chicks

One of the best things about babies and children is how you can make good use of them. You get to dress them up as mini super heroes around Halloween (and even after if the outfit still fits), you get to dress them in clothes that support your favorite team, and you get to pose them near some of the best props ever.

Don’t think I haven’t taken full advantage of this, in fact, I sometimes wonder if the reason I ended up having 6 kids was because the little ones were always aging out.

Here are some prime examples:

Emma is our little Christmas baby born on December 20th. Do you really think that I wasn’t going to get this shot?

Or a photo for posterity of one little guy’s absolute glee at the fact it’s his birthday today? (complete with birthday crown?!!!) Continue reading

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Lesson 357 – As rare as a hen’s tooth

You know that expression “rare as hen’s teeth?” It turns out that hen’s teeth are not really that rare.

Every single chick is born with one very important “tooth” it’s called the egg tooth and is located on the end of their tiny beaks. The egg tooth is actually a hard sharp calcium growth that allows them to first break into the air sac of the egg so that the chick can begin breathing air and then allows the chick to break through the hard egg shell eventually releasing them to the outside.

All chicks must have an egg tooth in order to be born. You can see the very sharp egg tooth here in one of our chicks who cracked herself out of her egg the old fashioned way.

see that egg tooth?

(If you click on the photo you can see a close up of the tooth.)

In a few days, the egg tooth – no longer needed – falls off (impossible to find, I’ve tried) and that’s that, no more teeth for the chickens. It’s a rite of passage, the first lost tooth of childhood, they all do it.

Except for our littlest one. One thing I noticed after she was born was that the egg tooth was either missing or hadn’t fully developed. There was no way that that little baby was ever going to get out of her egg without assistance.

She made it to the interior air sac of the egg (which is why we were able to hear her peeping) but couldn’t go any further. Although to be honest, let’s face it, she was very underdeveloped and probably wouldn’t have had the strength to chip herself out of an egg even if she had the tooth.

Which raises all sorts of ethical questions. Continue reading

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Lesson 355 – Our Littlest – Alive and Well

As I promised, here is the story of our littlest chick (who still doesn’t have a name) – I was going to call her Bella – as in “Beautiful” but then Griffin reminded me that I might as well go ahead and call her Edward if I was going to do that. Under NO circumstances, he told me, can you use any names from Twilight.

So anyway, our un-named chick seems to be thriving. For the first few days she was incredibly weak and if the slightest thing startled her she would fall over. Balance was not something that she had mastered yet. You could tell that her slender feet were underdeveloped, her siblings had larger feet with more heft and our girl sprang around on tippy toes worthy of any ballerina.

And yet, she figured out how to get where she needed to be.

Every day I’d look at her and think, there is just no way this little one is going to make it. You could tell from her appearance that she had not been ready to be born. She didn’t have an egg tooth (which is one of the many reasons why she would never have made it out of her egg). A full 5 days after her birth she is still completely covered with down while her brothers and sisters are already showing wing pin feathers, and her size, oh my her size. She is the tiniest little chicken out there.

And yet she figured out how to make her presence known. Continue reading

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Lesson 353 – the little chick who can

Normally I put up an inspirational post on Friday’s, just a little something on which to ponder.

This week instead, I’m putting up an inspirational story that won’t keep until Monday.

Yesterday when my friend arrived to pick up the incubator, there was still that one remaining egg that hadn’t hatched. There are a million things that can go wrong with eggs, the chick can become disoriented and attempt to hatch from the wrong end (fatal), the chick can just stop developing (fatal) or the chick could have had a catastrophic development issue non-compatible with life (extremely fatal).

Being the micro-biologist/scientist that I am, I was very interested in seeing if we could determine a cause of death for this one lone egg. It’s part of life, at times I can be very rational, I can deal with it. I went in the house to get the tweezers and scissors while my friend examined the egg.

You’re not going to believe this, he told me as I came out onto the porch, it’s peeping.

Sure enough, if you held the egg up to your ear you could hear it peep from deep inside.

What? It’s alive???? Forget being rational, all my mama hormones flew into full gear.

What to do now? The chick was clearly alive but was also in distress. For some reason, although it made it to the air sac and was breathing (hence the peeping) it couldn’t go any further. Continue reading

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Lesson 352 – the many stages of freedom from the egg

Yesterday was just incredible! One after one of the eggs popped open and we were able to see tiny creatures that had been folded up inside of an egg just moments ago take their first steps to freedom. It still boggles my mind.

For those who have been following this adventure, I’ve included some great photos of one baby’s birth. 

After the initial pip hole, the chick cuts around the egg using her "Egg Tooth"

 

Once the egg is cut through, the chick starts kicking it's legs to get out of the shell.

 

The shell breaks in half and the chick pokes part of its body out.

 

It rocks, it rolls, it does what it can to get out.

 

It eventually breaks loose from the egg - at this point there is no going back.

 

And in a few short hours this is what you get.

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