Well, after 3 weeks of waiting and anxiety, our little chicks hatched! Technically, they waited till Day 22 and 23 to hatch. As I referred to in my prior post, Our First Experience Incubating Hatching Eggs, they typically take about 21 days. However, other factors can play into it. But, I was getting worried when nothing was happening last Monday! And I was asking online if I should be seeing something, and people weren’t all real encouraging. My husband told me to just give it more time.
So then Tuesday morning, I saw two little eggs with holes in them! Of course it had to be on the one day a week I work outside our home. My husband sent me updates, letting me know that two more had poked holes later that morning. And actually, I almost made it home in time to see the first one hatch! It waited all day, and had I not stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work I might have been home. My husband face-timed some of the hatch to me at the grocery store. 🙂 He knew how excited and anxious I’ve been about all this. And by the way, shipped eggs for hatching are not cheap!
Our first little chick was a girl or pullet. The Cream Legbar chickens are known as an auto-sexing breed. The males and females can be told apart by some differences in their color patterns at birth. Many chicken breeds are hard to tell the males and females apart until they are older. Another special trait about the chicks that I chose is that the adults lay blue-green eggs. Can I let you in on a little secret? I have “hatched” the idea of starting some type of poultry side business for me and my family. These babies are for the start of this!
But anyway, when I arrived home from the grocery store, my kids were at the door, telling me to come in and see the next one hatch. They were excited. Well, we all were, except the little guy who was napping. We woke the poor guy up so he could see them too, but he was a bit too sleepy at first to be impressed. My five-year old on the other hand, kept exclaiming how “cool” all this was. We all surrounded the incubator to see and of course take pictures and videos.
Our second of chicks hatched, turned out to be a little cockerel. He was a lighter gray than his dark stripey sister. He also seemed smaller and weaker, and hadn’t absorbed all his egg yolk before hatching. Fortunately, with some time, that corrected and he is a cheeky little thing now. We also had another male hatch later that afternoon. But I had a harder time deciding what gender he was for awhile. I actually have never seen a Cream Legbar chicken prior to this. All my knowledge has been gained online. Plus when the babies are still wet after hatching, their markings aren’t as easy to distinguish. He ended up being a darker gray than his brother.
Pic showing difference in female chick on left vs. male chick on right.
The chicks were not done hatching, and caused me to lose sleep overnight. I keept waking up and going to check on them. We left everyone in the incubator overnight. I wanted to be cautious about opening it, so the humidity wouldn’t get sucked out and cause the chicks still hatching to have difficulty. And the many resources I read indicated it’s ok to leave them in an incubator, since they have nutrients from the egg yolk and don’t need to eat right away.
Another little pullet hatched early in the morning, maybe around 4 am. I think I just missed seeing her come out of the shell. And another was working on getting out slowly. However, this one didn’t come out like the others. Instead of making a crack around the shell, which is referred to as “unzipping”, she poked her head out of the first hole she made. It took her awhile to get out too. Once she was out, I did remove the first three chicks, who were rolling eggs around while staggering around in the incubator. Plus, I just couldn’t stand waiting anymore.
I put the first three chicks into a brooder box my husband made out of a plastic tote. I used puppy pads for a liner and I had already had the heat lamp turned on to warm things up. I had gotten the puppy pad idea from The Chicken Chick, and thought it was a neat idea.
The Downside of Hatching Chicks
Our fourth little chick just seemed to have issues with her neck and walking from the get-go. I thought it might be wry-neck. I eventually removed her from the incubator that evening, but was worried about my sixth egg now having issues because I had opened the incubator. I decided to try helping this chick out. He had made a hole 12 hours before, but hadn’t come out. When I helped, I had some bleeding because he was still attached to his yolk. He also was very weak. In fact, he never really walked after hatching, although he did try to stand some. I thought he had splayed legs and tried taping them. We tried feeding him with vitamin/water for a day or two, but eventually made the decision to no longer keep him.
Our little girl with the neck deformity, was quite spunky. We tried treating her with vitamins like I found recommended for wry neck on Backyard Chickens and from people I talked to on some chicken-related Facebook pages. I was not able to find the recommended poly-vi-sol children’s vitamins at any stores locally though. We tried using some vitamin/electrolyte water on her. However, honestly I did not have the desire to run a chicken hospital and give her vitamins/water as often as suggested. (like every half hour) Also, I could not use her for our planned business. If she had recovered, we would have put her in with our mixed flock. We made the decision to cull her as well. Whether her neck would’ve corrected eventually, we don’t know.
The seventh egg never made any attempt to hatch. So out of our original dozen of shipped eggs, we ended up with four healthy chicks. According to various sources, I read that a 50% hatch rate on shipped eggs is good. We did hatch that 50%, but not all ended up well. An unfortunate part of raising poultry.
Current Chick Status
As of now, our four healthy Cream Legbar chicks are just over a week old. It amazed me how quickly they started sprouting little wing feathers. We have two pullets and two cockerels. The girls are the dark stripey ones, and the boys have a yellow dot on the back of their heads. We have them inside our house in the bathroom right now to ensure they stay at a good temperature. It does take adjusting of the heat lamp. Their instincts kicked in right away, pecking at things and learning to eat. Drinking did take a bit longer. I’ve even seen one attempt to “dust-bathe”.
We take them out some and play with them. I talk to the cute little puff-balls when I go in the bathroom. They tilt their heads and listen. The other evening it was funny to see them perching on my husband’s arm. I hope they will be friendly. I have read they are supposed to be a nice breed of chicken. Hopefully, no mean roos!
As I stated before, they will be separate from my current backyard flock, so we have got to get busy building a new coop! Well, actually that would be my husband. I don’t do the building. I just think up these projects for him. We’ve talked over a coop design, and may build it in stages. Like I mentioned before, I am thinking to turn my hobby/addiction into a business. We are thinking to add at least another breed of chicken to this plan. But sometimes you just have to start slow.
And since we didn’t have alot of chicks hatch, I may have ordered some more Cream Legbar chicks! Yup, a little crazy, but I will be picking up four more pullets next weekend at our local chicken swap. Gotta love that addicting chicken math everyone talks about. If you don’t have chickens, you can’t understand it. But I think everyone finds baby chicks endearing. 🙂