A Long Time Ago and Very Far Away


This is a picture of my hen Sweetie raising chicks in 2010, in the only photo of her that still exists.  It was June 2010, and the chicks were having fun playing outdoors.  Flighty (chick on the right) laid champion eggs for many years.  She was a Cuckoo Marans.  Strangely enough, the name of the Marans breed is spelled the same way, “Marans,” whether referring to one bird or many birds.

 


 

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Meet Miracle Chick! (Cream Light Brown Cockerel)

Miracle Chick poses with Bluesy.


This is Miracle Chick, a chicken with a story to tell.  He was hatched in late September of last year, and he had a hard time getting out of his egg.  After many of the other eggs had hatched, he was still trapped in his eggshell.  Chicks are supposed to pip a hole in their egg with their beak, and then “unzip” the eggshell by turning and pecking until the eggshell breaks in half and the chick simply leaves the eggshell behind by hopping away (newly-hatched chicks can’t walk properly yet).

But this didn’t happen with Miracle Chick.  He had pecked a big hole in the side of the egg and stuck his head out, pathetically peeping and refusing to move.  We watched in horror, not sure what to do about it.  Two days passed without him making any progress, as other chicks hatched around him.

Finally the incubator water wells had evaporated so much that the eggshell’s membrane was becoming dry, and he still hadn’t attempted to get out of the egg further.  He was stuck.  At a loss of anything else to do, we refilled the wells, and wrapped his egg in a wet paper towel.  Hours passed without progress.  It was a high-stakes hatch, because chicks are supposed to eat after three days, and he had been stuck in the egg for four.  Finally, we dropped a bit of water into the eggshell, and he was able to hatch.

But the battle wasn’t over yet.  It was clear that he was a healthy chick with no deformities, but he wandered around aimlessly, apparently not recognizing food or water.  And he was as thin as a stick.

As a last-chance effort, we put him under a broody hen who had hatched one other chick.  Due to his behavior, his chances of survival looked small.  But the hen did something to calm him, fluff up his chick down, and get him to drink and eat.  He was transformed from a thin, confused chick into a confident and happy one.  He has grown up into a fine, healthy bird, and is king of the flock–hence the name “Miracle Chick.”

It still hasn’t been determined what caused his difficulty hatching.  Too-low incubator humidity and temperature changes is a suspect.  The hatching issue does not appear to be genetic, since his chicks (hatched this year) had relatively easy hatches, and are doing great.

Miracle Chick’s baby picture with his mother hen, Blackbeak.



 

Meet Bluesy (Blue Cream Light Brown Rooster)

Bluesy is one of three Blue Cream Light Brown Dutch hatched last year.  Most of these pictures are of his chick molt–his feather color became truly magnificent once he got his full plumage.  He was raised along with three other chicks by a Jersey Giant hen, Blackbeak.  A Jersey Giant is one of the biggest breeds of chickens and a Dutch is one of the smallest.  She appeared to think her chicks weren’t growing big enough, and kept feeding them worms.


Bluesy (center), along with Miracle Chick and Tiny Hen at about a month old.




Bluesy when he finally began to get his rooster plumage at about three months old.



Meet Sparkles! (Blue Cream Light Brown Hen)

Sparkles is one of last year’s hatch of twelve chicks.  For some reason the eggs had an extremely low hatch rate last year, and a very high hatch rate this year.  She was hatched in an incubator, and raised in a brooder with four other incubator-hatched chicks.  Out of that hatch, there were two cockerels and three pullets.

She was the only Blue Cream Light Brown to hatch (out of that group), and she’s one of the sweetest chickens ever.  All the chicks grew up to be show-quality and extremely beautiful.  Sparkles is going to be shown this year, and her mother, Duchess, was 3rd out of 32  bantams overall, and best Single Comb Clean Legged bantam.  Her father, Tick-Tock, received a blue danish at both shows he attended.  Her brother, Bluesy, is a beautiful Blue Cream cockerel (hatched out of a different batch of eggs, and now at his new home).

Sparkles has tried to hatch eggs twice this year, and 100% of the Dutch hens have gone broody.  This breed seems to be very good at sitting on eggs and raising chicks.

Sparkles a few days ago (it’s hard to get a photo of her because she runs around so fast).


The incubator she hatched out of ^


Over the next few days, meet the rest of last year’s hatch!


For more Dutch Bantam posts and pictures, click the “Dutch Bantams” link under “Categories” in the sidebar!