Friday, June 14, 2013

Of Chicks and Chickens

I've had a fondness for Cochin chicks since I purchased my first paid a year ago so in February I decided to order some Cochin eggs for hatching. Then I read about how hard it is to hatch eggs that were shipped from a lower altitude. Sigh. It really does pay to research before you buy.  I don't know how I missed this tidbit of information before I ordered.  I dutifully set 15 eggs for hatching and immediately broke a couple because my incubator is too small for that many-but how could I not try to get them in?

In March after painstakingly candling the eggs (the process of shining a bright light into the egg to see it's development) I was down to just 3 eggs that looked viable. Of those just one hatched. What a cute little thing.

Trey hatching
A day old..

Wanting buddies for my little chick, I purchased a couple of Silver Laced Wyandotte Chicks in April, and then at the end of April a couple more Cochin Chicks.  All went well until it was time to graduate from the hutch in my office to the outside world.

The Wyandotte Chicks,

"Trey" my sole hatching chick went out first as he was the oldest. My plan was to slowly acclimate him by putting him out for short periods in the chicken pen. What's that saying about "the best laid plan"?  Jinny my cochin hen didn't think much of the new addition and chased him out of the pen. I didn't realize that a chick already feathered out could slip so easily between the wire mesh.  Jasper alerted me to his escape but I couldn't find him, so I let Jasper off his leash and "whoosh" Jasper was chasing from his hideout. I quickly grabbed him and brought him inside and decided to wait a little while before putting him out again.

I reinforced the pen with chicken wire and tried again the following week. This time things went even worse...Trey got out and Jasper got him. I found him limp and bleeding and laid him beneath the nesting box to peacefully pass. An hour or so later he hadn't passed. I decided to bring him inside and let him die in peace. He didn't die. I examined him and found that he was missing a wing and his wing socket was protruding. I didn't have much hope, but washed his wounds, put an antibiotic cream on them and put antibiotics in his water. I put him in the hutch for the night not expecting him to be alive in the morning. I lifted the hutch door with trepidation the next morning and there was Trey drinking and eating as if nothing were wrong. His injuries didn't seem to bother him anymore.

A couple of weeks passed and the "Eau de Chicken" smell in my office was driving me crazy, so I decided once again it was time for the birds to move outside.  I moved all three into the coop and watched carefully as I planted my garden. All seemed OK-the chicks were keeping to themselves in the coop.  Jinny was clucking scornfully but wasn't chasing anybody.  A couple of hours later I checked again and Trey was gone! He was nowhere to be seen. We searched high and low but couldn't find him.  I hoped we'd find him the next morning but there was no sign. The two Wyandottes seemed to be faring all right in the big coop so I left them there.

That evening when I went to shut everyone in-the Wyandottes were gone too. I searched some more but they too seemed to have vanished.  How dissapointing, all that work raising the chicks only for them to disappear.

The birds later showed up dead by my guesthouse-dogs had got to them but I don't think they intended to kill them as they weren't torn up. It looked like the birds had probably run and the dogs chased. It was sad-especially as Trey was found a week later and it looked like he had just been killed as his little body was limp with no rigamortis. 

Meanwhile the fearsome Ginny who probably was the cause of all this trouble through her chasing of the chicks...crawled under the chicken wire around my garden and proceeded to mow down all of the plants I had so painstakingly nurtured all Spring. She left just one lone potato and the pumpkin plants.  Ginny is sure lucky she lays well as she'd be so out of here...

1 comment:

  1. What a heart rendering story, I felt like I was right there with you, raising chickens apparently "ain't for chickens or the faint of hear" :) thanks 4 sharing and congrats on hatching "trey"