Wednesday, April 24, 2013

On a Happy (Peeping) Note


Straight from Meyer Hatchery, straight run, 25 baby meat and 26 baby eggs (well technically half eggs and half meat in the end really, since I don't keep all of the boys in the egg group).
It always amazes me. I never get tired of being in awe of this thing:
You can take a newly hatched, just-dried baby chicken and pop it into a box along with 24 or so of its relatives, close the lid, and send it halfway across the country. It will arrive, 36 hours later more or less, peeping and alert and active. Dip it's beak into the waterer for safety, so it knows where to find fluids, and after a quick run around it's new environs, it settles down for a brief nap before jumping up to chase its siblings and assorted relatives, or catch errant spiders and flies, or peck at chick starter. 
I won't even wax poetic about the whole 'egg to chicken' miracle. I'll save that for another time. For now I am maternally contented, compulsively checking brooder temperature and chick behavior, and explaining to Yoshi that 1.) I am not hiding the baby chickens from him in my pockets and 2.) I am not taking him outside to consume all the baby chickens. 

The other thing I find amazing is the significant differences between baby meat and baby eggs in terms of behavior. The meat birds are pushing to be twice the size of the layers already, with a couple of exceptions in the layer batch - which leads me to believe I have a couple of Cochins, with big fluffy feet and larger bodies. The layers are very interested in their entire surroundings - they peck at the sides of the brooder, chase bugs, and "play" with shavings. They play games of "tag" with their siblings by finding something amazing and running off with it, peeping at the others to give chase. The meat are interested in two things: food, and water. Three things: MORE food. They are louder, more "assertive", and were quick to get into their single deceased compadre's little fluffy corpse. (True fact: things die - sometimes baby things. It's part of livestock, part of farming, part of being an omnivore). By comparison the layer chicks had not pecked the body of their dead brother. They just sort of huddled over him (or her). I suspect this is more the natural behavior of the chicken - clustering around the weak link until forced to acknowledge failure. Survival of the flock versus survival of the fittest. 

Now I get to spend today fussing and being maternal, while taking pictures of the layers once they've had a chance to warm up and settle in and compare them to online chick photos to determine what breed they are. I got an assortment. I love grab bags. SURPRISE ME!! Definitely got 3 White Crested Black Polish...two Golden Laced Polish...maybe some Welsummers...and if I am very lucky some Penedesencas and Favorelles! Only time will tell!

I love baby days!
So, apparently, does my little Silkie rooster, who's obviously gone all soft and maternal on me.


Kristi C. said...


That is about all I can articulate right now.

BeckyinVT said...

So adorable! I love the little guys with the hats, I've always wanted a few of those for my own flock!

Anonymous said...

GAH!! The Crested Polish just stole my heart. WHERE ARE THE FLUFFY FEET?!?!?!

Anonymous said...

Baby chickens apparently make me over-punctuate everything................................................................

Melissa Morgan-Oakes said...

Dear Anonymous - If you click on the second baby down and embiggen him (or her) you can see the beginnings of fluffy legs!

Cathy E said...

Babies are always so much fun to watch! Great commentary on the differences in behavior. Hope you will be giving us updates on their growth. :-)