26 March 2011

Chick Update

Our experience with the "experimental" lot of chicks has already been a mixed bag of success and failure.

One the successful side, their foster mama, Miss Bett, has taken them to be her own and is teaching them how to be chickens. It's a new level of chicken-culture education to listen to her various calls, clucks, and coos. Some are new (mainly those relating to calling the chicks to her) and some are ones we associated with the roosters, such as food and predator alerts. Her ultra-friendly disposition while on the nest has reverted to her usual aloofness. She wants her dried bug treats but no longer from my hand.

On the failure side, four of the seven chicks died by Thursday morning. At least two died of pasting up but the other two may have died of stress or general weakness. Our first chicks never got "poop plugs." Now I go out four times a day, including in the middle of the night, to clean their bottoms. It's yucky. The chicks hate it. The big birds wig out a bit because of the distress cheeping.

The hatchery staff have been very helpful with all this chick death. They have a 48-hour survival guarantee and it's nice to discover that they don't consider not catching pasting up to be handler error. Replacements have been ordered free of charge. I could have gotten the same breed delivered at the end of April but, because pasting can be genetic, they agreed to send out a different kind of 'rock' hen which will arrive next week. Hopefully we'll be able to tell them appart from the Dominiques, as Barred Rocks are very close cousins.

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