We’ve got chicks again! I’d like to say it was a successful hatch, but it wasn’t exactly. I had issues with the incubator again, not helped by the wildly fluctuating end-of-spring weather. Also, the auto-turner stopped one day in the first couple of days, something to do with the power point it was plugged into, as it was fine after I moved it. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to get another hygrometer/thermometer, one with accuracy to 0.5deg. It’s too hard trying to get settings right with one that only reads in whole numbers. 38degC could be 38.0 or 38.9, or somewhere inbetween. That might as well be Antarctica or the Sahara to a batch of incubating eggs.

Anyway, we have five chicks who are doing just fine. Some of the eggs were put under the two hens part-way through. Three hatched under Frodo first, on Day 20, which means the incubator could have been running too hot earlier on. They were two Australorp chicks and a Dorking. That evening one Dorking hatched super fast in the incubator and one hatched under Paris overnight, or so I thought, an Australorp. It got a bit confusing, as whichever one hatched under Paris wound up under Frodo with the others. I put the last one to hatch plus the incubator-hatched one under Paris while we waited for more. Fortunately, genetics dictates that any chicks hatched from Annie’s eggs (under Paris) had to be black Australorps, as you can only get black chicks when both parents are black. That means that the two blue Australorps are Frodo’s babies.

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The black Annie chick is particularly important to me.

After a bit, Frodo decided that she was taking on responsibility for the chicks while Paris kept sitting on the eggs. I guess she missed the point that there were still three eggs in her care, which were now exposed and there was a feeder between them and Paris. I put them under Paris when I found them, probably too late, and moved the feeder and drinker to a better spot, as Frodo had realised the benefit of sitting next to Paris and was practically sitting on her head. They worked really nicely from there, well, once Frodo was beside Paris instead of on her head, sharing the chicks and being motherly together. I was quite touched.

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Team Frodo & Paris.

Two days later I knew nothing else was going to hatch so I removed the eggs from Paris and the incubator. Mandatory inspection revealed that most of them had stalled around the Day 16-Day 17 point this time, a few earlier, a few later, indicating problems with the incubator earlier on. I wish I’d just given some to Paris from the start. I was just nervous about how the two hens would work together.

The other thing is the incubator-hatched Dorking chick had curled toes. It was in a much better state than the curled-toe-spraddle-legged case last time, as it was walking around no problem, just walking on its curled under toes. I made little cardboard shoes for the chick and taped them on her feet over straightened toes. After a few days I took them off. Her toes are no longer badly curled, just several of them look slightly tilted. I also started putting Vitamin B in their water in case it’s anything to do with an inherited deficiency. This chick is smaller and less steady of foot than the others so it probably had a tough time developing in the incubator.

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The second Dorking chick with curled toes getting some corrective cardboard shoes. She has become known as Paddlefoot.
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Paddlefoot was still quite able to walk, which was great news for her.
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Paddlefoots feet are doing much better after shoe and vitamin therapy. Note, Dorkings have five toes instead of the usual four.

They’re all quite agile now, at almost two weeks old, and a bit tricky to catch with two mummies looking after them.

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Time to come out of the coop… Stop hiding!
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The early days, teaching the chicks how to use the ramp.
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“But I don’t want to!”
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Paris gets two piggy-backers.
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Group photo where, typically, nobody is looking.

Annie’s foot seems to be healing well from the bumblefoot this time. But now we’ve got another broody. Rory, Paris’ super docile sister, is having another crack at broodiness. Strangely, Rory is pecking viciously at me, whilst demanding Paris never pecked me at all during her broodiness. Darrington the rooster is becoming increasingly annoying with his crowing and flapping displays when we’re around. I can’t be sure yet whether one of the two teenagers is a boy. They’re 8 weeks old. I’m still 95% sure that the blue one is a girl but the black one has still got me uncertain. I’mAnd the chicks are far off being certain about their sex. Maybe I should just let Rory hatch some eggs…

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Hi chickies… Blaze, Pickle, Darrington, Juliette and Rory are hoping for snacks, while the teenagers are down the back.
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The teenagers. I’m really happy with how they’re doing. They don’t like being caught, but once on my lap they sit nicely and they hang around me and eat from my hand when the big chickens aren’t looking.
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Annie’s foot looks like it’s healing up well.
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Annie looking into the chicks’ pen: “What on earth happened in that corner while I was away?!”
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