It’s springtime in Puerto Rico and that means lots of life and new activity around our farm. Here’s a few fun recent photos of the homestead.
Lately I have been checking on the broody hen more and more because according to my calculations, the 21 day incubation period was coming up quick. One evening when we were gathering the day’s eggs (not the incubated ones), I noticed that the broody leghorn was in the wrong box. This was a bad sign, because the eggs need to be constantly warm and who knows how long she was off the nest.
I looked in the forgotten nest and saw an egg with a dead chick embryo in it. There were ants crawling all over it. I am not sure if it was the ants that made the broody mama leave or what. I was bummed because the embryo in the egg looked just about fully formed with feathers and everything. We weren’t sure what to do with the rest of the nest of eggs since she had been off it for probably around 4-5 hours or so (since we had last checked) and they may no longer be viable but we decided to clean out the dead chick and ants and then put her back on the rest of the eggs and see what happened.
Well, yesterday I checked on her again and I thought I saw a little black fuzz ball and some chirping coming from under the Leghorn. It was hard to tell, so I ran and got Britton to help me check. And look what we found!
In this video you can see that we just lifted her up and one of the chicks fell from under her wing and then I noticed another one in the corner of the nest.
We are so happy to see this second generation! It is all a big experiment. We have had chickens for a long time, but adding in a rooster and hatching out our own babies is all new to us. I think a few more in the nest will hatch hopefully in the next day or two. We are not sure what to do with these chicks and how involved we will be in the parenting. I think we will add some chick starter feed to the supplemental feed we give all the chickens (they mostly forage), but otherwise we are going to leave it to the mama bird to protect them. We anticipate some losses due to the hawks (and rats), but we are hopeful that with adult birds and roosters around, there will be fewer problems than we had with just a coop full of babies in the first generation.
Now the question is: where are all those turkey babies?
There was an agricultural fair going on in Mayaguez this past week and our neighbor who is a student there encouraged us to meet him there and check it out. It was really fun and right up our alley. They had lots of exotic plant vendors, the USDA, and other agricultural organizations. They also had farm animals in one of the tents as well as fair food and crafts.
I was like a kid in a candy store and was so excited about all the different plants and animals. We picked up a large lime tree that was already producing limes. We also saw a huge pen full of dyed baby chicks that they were selling for $2.
The practice of dyeing chicks colors is generally safe as long as they use food grade dyes. However, there are some concerns about the practice most notably that people often will buy a baby chick like this as a novelty item not intending to actually raise the chicken and so they get thrown away. We didn’t buy any but it was pretty tempting especially at that price.
Our friends, however, also visited the fair and they knew we were set up for chickens, so they bought four of them and played with them for the day and then brought them to us. They are so small especially compared with our now 6 week old chickens. We weren’t sure how they would work all together adding in such young ones, but they are fine! Because there are some older pullets in the flock that are watching out for them, we don’t even need to put them under a heat lamp. They just huddle under the older birds’ feathers at night.
Well, we are finally done building our chicken coop for the most part. Britton woke up early on Saturday and put the shingles on the top and built the nesting boxes. He had the basic layout of the chicken coop already done, but with the crazy rainy/snowy weather we had put off moving it to the backyard until today.
We used the lawnmower as a dolly to transport it from the garage to our backyard because I am a wuss and couldn’t carry it. Then we needed to paint the plywood white to help protect it from the elements including the sprinkler system. So we went for a bike ride down to Ace and picked up a little can of exterior paint. We sat down to paint and were done in about 15 minutes. When I saw the white blank canvas, I decided to make it a cuter chicken coop with a custom paint job. Voila! Not bad for a day’s work. What do you think? We can’t wait till the baby chicks are old enough to live there with the Leghorn.
Full Video Demonstration of chicken house functionality