Early Saturday morning was a special day for our family. One of our chicks hatched out of its egg!
The night before, I could see the egg moving and hear little peeps. We also noticed a small crack in the side of the egg. Bleary-eyed, the girls crowded around and peered into the incubator’s observation windows.
There was so much excitement and lots of, “I cannot see, move over, let me loooook!” The chick was in the egg still, but well on its way to getting out. The chick would peep and they would go bonkers! “Did you hear that mama? The chick is peeping!” The girls’ eyes were like saucers, taking it all in. They would clap their hands and giggle. Good times! We let the chick stay in the incubator most of the day while it dried, and we were hoping it would encourage the other one to come out. Sadly, our second chick never hatched, so we have one chick from our first incubation.
We were certain that the second chick didn’t make it, because the next day the egg smelled really bad and there was no movement. Unfortunately, the rest of our eggs didn’t get fertilized, or maybe something else happened in the incubation process. As we’re newbies at this, I hoped maybe I was wrong when we candled. It was clear that there was nothing but a yolk, but I kept them in there just in case I was wrong.
The evening before, Derek and I set up the brooder for the chick. We had a cardboard container from the starter kit for chicks from Tractor Supply, but I had seen a better way to house them. I had a large plastic storage container used to store clothes for the kids in the closet. I’ve been downsizing, and a bin worth of clothes went off to charity. I lined it with paper towels. The towels are necessary so the chick can get good footing. I also read it’s a better choice than wood shavings to start because the chicks cannot differentiate between food and wood shavings and may accidentally eat some of the shavings. I’ll replace the towels with wood shavings in a couple of weeks.
The University of Minnesota has good information about the hatching and brooding process for small batches of chicks. We filled the feeder with the supplied chick starter (again from the Tractor Supply kit) and I used distilled water for the water feeder. I’m worried about our well water and just want to give the little gal (or guy) the best start. I sprinkled a little of the feed on the paper towels near the feeder, to make it easy for the chick to find.
I attached the heat lamp to a cast iron plant stand I have. The literature I read said to get the light about 18″ above the brooder. I was shooting for a temperature of 95 degrees F. I checked the temperature with the thermometer from the incubator and laid it on the floor of the brooder. It was right around 100 degrees. I adjusted the lamp up a few more inches until I was around 95 degrees F. Other ways to tell if your temperature is off is to watch the chick. If it stays away from the light, it might be too hot, so adjust the lamp further way. If the chick constantly stays under the light, it might be too cold, and you will want to move the lamp closer. Make sure your brooder is away from cold drafts and protect the chicks from your pets. We are laying a window screen over top of the brooder for added protection.
It would have been nice to have a friend or two for the little chick, but we are giving him or her lots of attention. The girls talk sweetly to the chick and sing it songs. Ara loves to tell it, “I’m your mama and I’m going to take good care of you.” It took a while for the chick to dry out, but it seems to be doing really well and really bonding with the girls. As you can see from the pictures, the little chick is dearly loved and off to a great start.
We want to raise our chicks organically, but decided to start with medicated feed to give our chick a good start. We’ll switch over to organic feed next month. I also took the time to disinfect the incubator, so I hope we can start one more small batch. That way, our little chick will have a friend for the long winter months ahead.