Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ok, so it's been a while and I need to get into the habit of updating this thing.... For now I will just settle for recounting the past month and a half with shiny pictures.

First of all, after the first hatch of polish chickens (Megatron, Optimus Prime, and Fox), I put more eggs into the incubator. I put in 22 more polish eggs (in 3 batches, 9, 8, and 5, a week apart each batch), 2 dozen duck eggs (in 2 batches a week apart), and 8 peacock eggs (same breeder, 3 different pens/colors). My incubator was STUFFED and the peacock eggs were SO big that I had to double space them on the racks!

As it turns out, incubating chicken and duck eggs together presents a huge problem. The chickens want 30-50% humidity through the incubation and the ducks want 75-80% through the incubation. So I cheated them all and set the humidity at 60% (perfect for peacocks!) through the incubation.

The first batch of polish hatched just fine- two were clear and five hatched- one died in the egg and one died a couple days after hatching. As I knew these guys would probably go to homes beyond my control, I didn't name them. I just called them by the lay date written on their eggs.
Here is 30, next to a rubber ducky because he was the first born and had no other friends.

And here is 26, 28, and 30. 26's buff sibling is the one who died a few days after hatching :(

The best part of this second hatch was that all these babies imprinted. They still have not gone to homes beyond my reach, so when I visit the farm I go to the chick stall and call out Cheep cheep cheep! and all four of them come running over to say hello. Thirty was my favorite, liking to sleep on or near me when I took him out of the brooder.

The second batch of eggs had started incubation before they got to me, and died when I settled them overnight in a cool location. The last batch was waterlogged from hatching with the ducks. Very sad.

Of the first dozen duck eggs, only 4 were fertile. Two hatched (Spot and Stupid), one died, and one was a muscovy duckling which took a week longer to hatch.
Here is Spot and Stupid, enjoying their new rabbit cage when we first moved them outdoors!

They are a LOT bigger now! Spot is actually starting to get his big boy feathers in, sleek black and white. Spot is in the lower left and Stupid is upper right. Stupid got his name because for the first couple weeks, he held his head twisted/tilted around to one side.

Of the second batch, 9 were fertile. Five hatched, two died, one nearly hatched, and then died, and one was full of meat with no order and was totally disgusting (
Here's the first four, they all hatched together a few days before the fifth duck and the muscovy from the first hatch.

I gave the all yellow and the mostly black one to Liz, since I wanted to keep them close to home to baby. Plus, all her ducks are pekins, and they are plain white. I think it will be awesome to have some colored ducklings in there. The other two along with Spot, Stupid, and the muscovy are going to their new home tomorrow. I am SO HAPPY because they are making a HUGE mess/stink on my deck. They have nearly gone through a 50lb bag of food so far as well >.< Add in the Ton of bedding they get filthy and having to change their disgusting water at least three times a day.... yah, they are getting to be too much for me.

Of the five that hatched from the second batch, one of them was very tiny, and is still very tiny- we believe he may suffer from dwarfism, meaning he will need special care for his life and he will feather out a LOT slower than the others. We named him Ping and he is darn cute! Here is Ping with Yang, and they should be about the same size.

Of the peacocks, four were clear or scrambled by shipping and four of them should have hatched. However, two died in the egg perfectly formed and ready to hatch, which was REALLY disappointing. The other two, however, hatched just fine and they are THE SWEETEST creatures on the planet. I have not named them, but I will. I will be able to tell what gender they are in a couple weeks, and I will give them appropriately royal names then.
Here is the firstborn the night she was born, wrapped in my blanket.

And here she is at 2 weeks on my shoulder! This is her favorite hang out place :)

She is DEATHLY cute.

And for anyone who has never seen a peachick moving or making noise, we took a trip outside while I was watching the ducks have their free ranging time.
She is a TOTAL chatterbox, always talking to me. I have all my fingers and toes crossed that she survives to adulthood. Even so, I have not placed all my eggs in one basket so to speak.

With those hatches out of the way... I thoroughly cleaned and sanitized my incubator in preparation for another hatch. The eggs I'd hatched previously had for the most part been free eggs. I wanted to test the incubator, make sure it worked, see what a full cycle looked like, make sure I knew what to do in emergencies... Now that I am more confident in my incubator, I felt it was time to order some special eggs.

After about a week of searching and hemming and hawing, I finally settled on a plan and chose a selection of eggs that could be bought and arrive at the same time. I ordered one dozen French Black Copper Marans eggs, One Dozen show quality Silkie eggs, eight more peacock eggs (Silver pied and Emerald pied spalding), and then traded 6 polish hatching eggs for eight golden lakenvelder eggs. Now, mind you that my incubator holds 42 eggs. 12+12+8+8=40 eggs. Perfect. The peacock eggs would have to be double spaced, but the silkie eggs were small enough that they could go between the peacock eggs and the incubator would be perfectly full with just enough room to leave 2 spaces near the turner's motor clear (where it might get hot).

What ARRIVED is not what I ordered. What ARRIVED were 18 silkie eggs, 14 BCM eggs (GORGEOUS eggs, take a look!, 9 peacock eggs, and thank god I haven't received the lakenvelders on time. I thought to myself, looking at all these eggs... Don't panic. Shipped eggs have a high mortality rate, not all of them will start to develop and by the time the lakenvelders get here I will be able to remove the 'clear' eggs from the incubator. No worries!

I candled the silkie eggs- 17/18 show development! I candled the peacock eggs and unfortunately I think I only saw 2 with development, but it was REALLY early in their incubation period. I will be candling them again probably Monday to check again. In the BCM eggs... I'm pretty sure most if not all of them have development! So now I have no space in the incubator (still) and if the lakenvelder's arrive, I will probably have to create an incubator from scratch and turn by hand. I suppose this will not break my heart, to have a spare incubator in case of disaster with my main one.

So that's pretty much been my life for the past couple weeks... wake up early, go to work, home around 4 or 5, let the big ducks out, feed Ping and the peacocks (play with the peacocks!), clean the big duck cage, read a book outside with them for an hour, make dinner, round them up, and relax for an hour or two before crashing..... rinse and repeat! You can imagine I will be very happy when I no longer have the big ducks to worry about.

Will try to remember to update about the coming weekend!