There are eggs in the incubator again. It’s round two. And this time, I am making sure the lid is locked down properly.
I purchased 12 Dorking eggs because I’m still keen to have some Dorking hens in our flock. Then I had to decide how many and of who’s eggs from our flock to add. Annie’s eggs were the ones I was the most keen for, but she is not a great layer. Her eggs are big, but they’re often soft-shelled. None of the others have soft-shelled eggs so I’m trying to figure out if it’s to do with what or how much she’s eating or if it’s an internal issue. She’s had trouble with consistent egg production from the start, starting off with a giant egg. I have a grand total of three eggs from Annie-Darrington in the incubator, which isn’t great, and I’m not confident about their fertility. I have five eggs from Frodo-Darrington in the incubator. The other Australorp hens are related to Darrington so no eggs from them. I also added four eggs from Paris-Darrington as her eggs were showing good fertility. Paris is a big hen and her full brother, the big black mean cockerel, was particularly tasty, so they’re potential meat birds or crossbred pullets to sell. So, that makes 24 eggs in the incubator. I could have done more, but that’s enough for now!
- Dorking eggs x12
- Australorp eggs x8 (Annie x3, Frodo x5)
- 3/4 Australorp x 1/4 Wyandotte eggs x4 (Paris)
Of course, I have hens trying to be broody as well. Frodo is proving hard to properly snap out of broodiness, although putting her in the other big pen by herself for a day or two, with no access to the coop except at night has gotten her out of sitting. But she’s still waltzing around sounding broody. I actually intend to give her some of the eggs once they are a bit further along so she doesn’t have to sit for too long, probably Paris’ eggs so there won’t be any crossbreds in the incubator. Rory came out of broodiness but now Paris is broody again. I don’t really want to give eggs to Paris as well, as she is one of my best layers and lays the biggest eggs, along with inconsistent Annie. After I’ve candled the eggs on Day 7/8 I’ll see how many are fertile then make some decisions.
The two chicks are doing well. It’s hard to guess what they are when there are only two to compare. They both started feathering up quite quickly, including their tail feathers, which is usually more of a girl thing. The blue one has always been bigger. Both of their combs look fairly big at the age of 4 weeks, but that isn’t necessarily an indication of maleness. The other comparison I do have is Jane B. She came from the same breeder. She was a big chick and pullet, with a big comb, and kept me guessing. So it could be the same thing again. The chicks’ feathers have looked fairly similar until now, when I noticed the blue one has a lot more back feathers near the base of the tail. This is usually a girl thing with Australorps, and it was with Jane B. At this stage, I’m guessing the blue chick is a girl and the black chick could potentially be a boy, but it could swing either way. They could both be boys! They’re both friendly already, so that puts them in good stead.
If one of the chicks is a boy, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. Darrington’s replacement is imminent after I’ve gotten some good offspring out of him. Despite handling him every day, he still leaps in the air when I go into the coop at night, makes a big racket, runs and flaps around wildly and refuses to calm down and sit still when I hold him down low on the ground, day or night. He was nervous as a chick. Nervousness leads to unpredictability. But he was the only choice I had at the time. He’s the hardest-to-handle rooster I’ve had; even Elrond, my first inherited rooster was easier to handle at night, and he ended up attacking me. Darrington is showing early signs of aggression like growling at me and crowing a lot when I’m around the pens. He’s got eight laying ladies now, so he’s not lacking in work. I don’t like having a rooster with authority issues. He is good-looking though. If I could just get a good, pleasant son out of him, like his lovely father, Mr Darcy, that would be great.
Whatever happens, I’m feeling more confident in our chicken-keeping future now that we have an incubator. I can hatch higher numbers of chicks, when I want to, and I can be more picky about keeping the good ones.