The new chicks have hatched

We have six more Ixworth chicks. This time from our own hens.

This had better be our final hatch this year, unless we incubate eggs on someone else’s behalf. We don’t want to get too overcrowded.

On the first hatch, none of our 7 eggs was fertile, which worried us a bit. Maybe the cock, fine fellow though he looks, was firing blanks. So to give them all a second chance, this time we set 14 eggs from our Ixworth quartet, and bought in 6 eggs from a breeder as a backup.

The first problem was that the eggs that we’d bought took 48 hours to arrive rather than the normal first class next day service. But we hoped for the best and rested them in a cool room for 24 hours before loading the incubator.

I left candling until day 9, to be sure to give the embryos every opportunity to develop. Of our fourteen eggs, eight were fertile. Of the six that we’d bought, only one had survived the trauma of the postal system. One had started and failed (we could see the characteristic red ring) and four were completely clear.

The eggs were set on a Saturday morning at 10:30am. So technically the 21 days finished on Saturday at the same time. The first chick hatched a little early, at about 6pm on Friday. By mid evening 4 more eggs had pipped, and around 9pm we watched one of them hatch.

I know that I’ve posted similar pictures before, but the wonder hasn’t faded of watching a new life emerge. So, first, the chick begins to enlarge its air hole by pecking round the shell.

Then, quite suddenly, the shell breaks under the pressure from within, and the chick is on its way.

Normally the chick frees its head from the shell first, then kicks itself completely away. This one did it the other way round.

And finally it’s out, and takes a rest. The incubator provides a nice warm humid breeze so that it can dry out and fluff up gradually.

By Saturday morning six had hatched, and by the afternoon were ready for transfer to the brooder. Here they are as the electric hen is lifted for a photocall.

The slightly sad postscript is that the remaining three eggs didn’t even pip, including the one viable egg from the breeder. We’re happy with our six chicks, though, all the more because they’re from our own flock.

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