Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chicks Cheaping! Day 19 For Broody Hen

First pictures of these day olds.
First days of August broodiness.

First of all, what has transpired with this hatch so far?

Other Hens on the Nest.

After seeing a hen sitting on Little Black Hen's little broody head, trying to lay an egg in the same nest, I placed a curtain over the opening to her nest. This works great by the way; it keeps her mind on her nest and others out while she remains in the safety of the coop yet able to get out if completely necessary. Although, I do have to open the curtain each morning and anxiously watch her until she remembers her seemingly abandoned nest.

Egg Eaters

At 2 weeks with basket in hand to collect and candle her clutch, I let the chickens out and saw broody hen run out with the others. My heart jumped and I spotted the curtain hanging down because I didn't push the tack in far enough!!! How silly!!

All the eggs were covered in, yes you guest it, egg. Upset, nervous and disappointed, I rinsed the eggs and candled them anyway. I was more than worried, with no idea how long the hen had been off her nest, how horribly the remaining eggs had been viciously pecked and concerned for bacterial safety.
Mood swings:
How sad that they’re ruined. 
                              What horrible creatures eat their own eggs!? 
I knew I should have gotten out of bed earlier! 
Turns out the egg eating chicken, whoever it was, only ate one egg, which when candled at week one and looked infertile... not even a dark spot.

Candling showed 8 of 9 eggs looking normal, I suppose. Shadowing veins like inverted lighting revealed their web through thick shells. All seemed to have solid formed construction that floated with each turn of the egg. All except one, whose web drifted, torn and fluid in its shell.

My Forgetfulness

Now, on day 18, a horrible event happened. While in a rush to volunteer my time to pull weeds along a community side walk, so that synthetic chemical pesticides need not be sprayed, I forgot to let my chickens out of their coop today!!! Thank goodness there is ample space, enough for twice the herd size, but this horrible mistake didn’t hit me until my way home and I obviously, immediately became very concerned, very fast. Visions of early awaked chicks lying lifeless under a stampeding flock flashed in my minds eye.

I opened the coop door and heard broody hen clucking to life in her nest box, hungry for a meal and aiming to stretch her legs. I picked up a clean, warm egg and put it to my ear. The kissing chirp of a chick’s first words lightened my heart and settled my nerves. What a sweet end to a rough day.
Candling Eggs

To candle, I turn a reading light with a flexible arm upside down. Turn it on and let the fluorescent bulb warm up while I cut an oval hole in a piece of cardboard to place on the rim. This works perfect since the metal shade has a flat surface, therefore forming a good light seal. :P

Candling Websites that helped me get the idea of what’s happening and how to know when an egg should be removed.

Learn about Winners, Quitters and Yolkers at 4-H Embryology, Extension in Lancaster County, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL)

Candling Pictures at

Back Yard Chickens’ Candling Eggs Site

Find Vivid photos of candled eggs, inside and out at “Egg Candling and Break Out Analysis for Hatchery Quality Assurance and Analysis of Poor Hatches.” Cooperative Extension - University of California, Animal Science Department

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