We’ve been keeping chickens for some years now, and never suffered serious losses before. But we didn’t padlock one of the doors the other night, and one of the many local foxes took advantage of the opportunity. Foxes can undo latches and shoot back bolts, so by morning only one of the bantams remained. A few feathers showed where the others had met their end. The bodies had been taken, so presumably they’d ended up as dinner for the fox cubs. It’s still that time of year.
We went back to the very excellent Orchard Poultry to buy a few more bantams. Not for breeding, just to supplement our ornamental flock. And, after losing our silkie during last winter, we’ve learnt the lesson that the breeds must not be too tender for cold damp conditions.
Here are our five newcomers, getting accustomed to their new quarters before being integrated with the existing birds.
I entered a competition run by the very excellent Blackacre Farm, producers of fine free-range eggs. And won!
The prize was a very generous six dozen “Waddling Free” duck eggs.
There’s a parallel with having children here. You forget just how fast they grow!
Only a day or two old, the ducklings are thriving. The pictures are taken a little distance from the brooder so as not to frighten them. The cardboard wall is to prevent too much Aubiose from being kicked out onto the floor!
Maybe if we huddle in the corner and ignore the big scary humans, they’ll go away!
It’s now exactly 28 days since the original 11 eggs went into the incubator. Two didn’t develop at all, and one looked infected at around the halfway mark. That left us with eight. As I write, we have seven lively ducklings! Increasing the humidity in the R-Com 20 incubator seems to have paid off.
I caught the hatch of number 4 on camera. The third had just hatched, and her cheeping and movement may have encouraged the fourth to emerge. Here’s the hatch in pictures:
Some pipping action is visible, and as we watch, more holes start to appear in the shell
We’re hatching a clutch of duck eggs for a friend at the allotments. When we last checked, 8 out of the original 11 were still viable. The first surprise came yesterday afternoon, when the three-day hatching phase commenced. A couple of eggs had already started to pip, 48 hours earlier than we would have expected. You can see the first little chips in the shells as the ducklings start to hatch.