Friday, May 13, 2016

The First Four

Back in February, I had bought 2 dozen fertile eggs from another Chicken farmer for Cousin Joe to hatch in his incubator.
For some reason I don't know, only four of the eggs ended up hatching.

I - well, my Buff Orpington hen, Buff (I know, I'm so creative when it comes to naming me pets) - ended up hatching nine chicks a week later, and I had thought about bringing the First Four home and seeing if she would Mother them, too, but read that it was probably not a good idea, so Cousin Joe ended up raising them for several weeks.

Last week (or some time ago) it was pretty certain that Buff had taught the Babies to sleep on the roost every night, and they no longer used the "play pen" at all, so with the empty cage (play pen) we were ready to bring home the First Four and start integrating them into the flock (if possible).

At this age, it's not always easy to tell girls (hens) and roos (boys) apart.

I spend more time than you want to know watching chicken videos and reading message boards and blogs, and there are tell-tale signs, but sometimes even those aren't foolproof.
One sign of a roo(ster) is the comb (on top of the head) turning pink sooner. But sometimes, some hens comb's turn pink early.
EE (Easter Egger) chickens often have certain coloring, or color patterns, that can determine girl or boy....but sometimes, boys will have girl coloring.
And so on.

All four of these First Four have darker pink combs than the nine babies, so I feared, it could be that they are all boys (roos).

The only one I'm certain about is the white one being a rooster. He has the three-row comb and obvious wattles.

This one may be a rooster, but maybe just a mean hen. Although it's a darker pink, it has the same smaller, thinner comb as the others, and no wattles.
Sometimes roos stand up more erect than hens, but all these chicks, at times, stand up tall. Other times, they just look chicken-y like hens.

This one also has the smaller comb and no wattles, also the hackles (neck feathers) appear to be rounded as opposed to pointed, although it may be too early for those yet.
However, the coloring - the red in the wing feathers - may indict it's a rooster.

I was pretty sure the orange-breasted one was a hen, but it appears to maybe have the three-row comb of a roo, although no wattles, either.

Also, all these First Four chicks are generally the same size, unlike the nine Babies, with the (probable) roos considerably larger than the (probable) hens.

The two grey chicks in the front I'm about 99.9% certain are roosters, are about 1/3 larger than the chicks I am reasonably sure are hens.

Anyway, I can't decide if the First Four are: 1 roo and 3 hens, 2 roos and 2 hens, or all 4 roos. It'd just be my luck they were all 4 roosters. 

The nine Babies are growing up, but they're still Mama's little babies. They are mostly independent at this point, and just part of the flock, but she still looks out for them, and will peck a noggin if any of the other hens mess with any of her babies.

Isn't she gorgeous? Motherhood really agrees with her.

Speaking of motherhood...

Got another one on the nest. She's been there a couple of weeks, give or take.
For a few days I pulled her out of the nest and sent her out with the others, but she'd end up back in there.

I tried to get some more fertile eggs from the same lady as I got the others, but only like half a dozen this time, I don't need/want another large brood. I figured if she hatched 2 or 3 it'd be sufficient to satisfy her motherly instinct.
But, it hasn't worked out for me to get the eggs, I'm not really sure why, but I guess I'll have to try to find someone else to get some from. It doesn't seem like she's going to give up until she gets her desired outcome, and honestly, even though I don't especially want anymore chicks, I don't want to screw up her natural instincts.

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