Despite having gotten a late start on hatching this season, there is always something sort of neat about having the first hatch on Easter. And despite the fact that I have hatched thousands of chicks over the years, nothing diminishes the excitement of the first hatch of the season. They started pipping through the shells Friday afternoon. A few had hatched by Saturday morning, and then it was like popcorn til this afternoon. This is a HUGE hatch. It's not that the hatch rate was all *that* phenomenal (though I must say for my birds it was pretty darn good!) but I set a whole lot of eggs because I'd collected them for two weeks (usually I just collect for one week, but I didn't want them to hatch last weekend since I was not here!). So although they are sort of impossible to count, there are roughly 90 chicks. Now considering I only usually hatch about 250 per year, that's really kind of amazing. I have never had that many of all one age group before, so it will be a bit of a struggle to fit them into the brooders (usually it's more like 20-30 per week!) But, I'll figure it out somehow! It'll still take a while to hatch enough Blacks, but I can definitely stop collecting eggs from the Cuckoos and Creles. Holy moley I have Cuckoos coming out my ears! They had a great hatch rate, so with three more weeks of them still in the incubator, I ought to have way more than enough of that color.
The view when I opened the hatcher door (the door is see-through but it doesn't photograph well with the door closed!) But it was time to take the chicks out, so I took a pic:
There were still a couple of stragglers in the incubator at this point, but that's essentially all the chicks in the brooder box that they will quickly outgrow...:
It amazes me how fast they find the food and water:
I can't resist going into the room to watch them from time to time. They are pretty funny. They are the perfect age right now, less than a day old.. They aren't afraid of me yet (by tomorrow they probably will be). Like all babies, they spend most of their time sleeping, and the rest of it eating and pooping... They are a mass of fuzzy warm wonderfulness. And soon they will be wild little bratty things, and then in a few months they bloom into beautiful show birds.
There are a lot of "life lessons" with the birds, I guess you could say. You deal with the whole life cycle, and sometimes the hardest part of that is when the life cycle is very short. Of all the eggs that go into the incubator, you know that some will not hatch, either because they aren't fertile to begin with, or because they die along the way. Sometimes that's environmental (incubator temperature, etc), but mostly it's genetic. It's sad when they develop all the way but don't hatch. Or sometimes they can get themselves almost all the way out of egg but can't finish the job. I'm a softie, I help the stragglers, but often they don't live anyhow. Of all the chicks that hatch, you know that not all will live. It's just part of life. I don't want to say that you "get used to it" as that sounds a bit cold-hearted, but you come to accept it.
There were some interesting things I noticed in this hatch.. The Brassies and Blue Brassies had an unusually high embryonic mortality rate. I don't recall seeing that in past years, so I'll have to keep on eye on that. I had thought the Crele X BBRed chicks were all turning out BBRed, but some of them have a white spot on the back of the head... so... hmm, perhaps they are Creles? Who knows. Pen #4 of the Black birds threw 3/5 Brassy Back this time. Ack! Brassy Back supposedly originated as a sport of from Black. I usually get two or three a year, total, from the Blacks, but three out of five in one batch?!!? I may need to switch males.. If they are good Brassy color they should have phenomenal type (they are, after all, 100% Black in terms of genetics), but really I would rather hatch out Blacks! Hmm. And the Cuckoos (Cuckoo male x Black female) are throwing Brassies again too.
I guess that's why I named it "Random Rosecombs." ;-)