to this –
I couldn’t get a nice photo of the three of them together, and believe me, I tried!
It’s amazing how quickly they grow. At seven and a half weeks old these guys are pretty much all feathered up and look like miniature versions of the adults, and in less than a year they’ll be producing eggs! I’m glad my kids don’t grow so fast!!
What have I learnt from this incubating and hand-raising experience? It’s fun, but it’s so much easier if the hen does it! I have discovered that I truly prefer the natural way – it takes longer, but there’s less mess and less fuss. So even though fertilised eggs were available at the Euroa Poultry Auction, I didn’t have a broody hen, and resisted the temptation. I have to say though, I was severely tempted the ducks, especially a lovely blue muscovy girl. We’re not ready for ducks so I resisted. However I did buy Kathy a lovely Araucana rooster who was heading for chop.
I’ve also noticed that the two pure bred, hand-raised chickies are much slower on the uptake when it comes to eating bugs. Skid, the farm chickie of the trio, snaps up earwigs and cockroaches with undisguised relish, while the other two regard them with a somewhat puzzled expression on their cute little faces. Yet the ones outside, pure breds and mixed, with Arabella Topknot have no such problems as they eagerly search for bugs and run about my feet like excited puppies.
At five weeks old the hand-raised trio went from the lounge room to the laundry – they kept escaping from the brooder! On one particular day I came home to find them all sitting in front of the fire! Very cute and all, except for the minefield I had to negotiate to get in the front door! Thank goodness we don’t have carpet so it was easily cleaned!!
We have decided that whatever their sex, the hand-raised trio are our pets and are going to become the first members of our home flock. Personally I’m hoping they’ll all be girls, and if we have to have a rooster, I’m hoping that Puffball (Light Sussex), Kael and I both like the idea of crossing him with our Araucanas to see if we can get a meatier blue egg layers. Won’t know for a while yet, I’m guessing though… However, the four chickies with Arabella Topknot are not our pets, so the roosters are in for a short, but happy life. I’m hoping for one Araucana and one Light Sussex rooster from this lot, but if I don’t get an Araucana roo I know where I can get one! The home flock will be used to work the garden beds I’m establishing close to the house – the chickies have already shown me multiple times just how eager they are to help with the gardening. When I’m pulling weeds, they’re there; when I’m digging holes, they’re there; when I’m spreading mulch, they’re there. You get the idea.
At almost eight weeks the chickies are doing well, but I know we’ve still got a ways to go before I’ll be reasonably confident of their survival – most of the first lot of chickies made it to six weeks, it was after that they started dropping like flies.