As I have done the past couple of years, I was hoping to hatch chickens in the classroom for the children of St Michael’s to observe and our year group to learn about.
I had already ordered the eggs and rather than cancelling I decided to have the delivery brought forwards and incubate them at home.
I will document their development and post regular updates.
Task: How much does an average chicken chick weigh at time of hatching?
We have been continuing to monitor the temperature in the incubator and not much else!
Task: Why shouldn’t we move the eggs at this point?
Today we have candled the eggs for the last time before they hatch.
Unfortunately, another had stopped growing and so we now have 8 eggs with active chicks in them.
The chicks are now growing bigger and stronger ready to hatch in three days time! Egg-citing!
Later today, we will add water to the incubator to raise the humidity. This will soften the membrane around the chick, making it easier for the it to hatch.
We will also remove the part of the incubator that had been rotating the eggs so that the chicks can get in to the correct position for hatching.
We will not lift the lid again until after the chicks have hatched.
Task: We need to make preparations for having up to 8 newly hatched chicks. Can you find out what I will need? (Don’t worry – I do already have what I need)
🐣Unscheduled egg-citing news!!🐣
Today, one of the eggs has started to pip!
That means it has begun to break a small hole in the egg shell ready to eggs-it.
Not only that but we can hear it cheeping too!
Listen carefully to the video; can you hear it?
In the second video, you can see one of the eggs rocking a little. This is because the chick inside is getting into the hatching position.
Hatching is egg-hausting and it can sometimes take 24 hours from pipping to hatch.
I will keep you all updated!
We are very egg-cited to announce that we have had 6 successful hatches!
The first hatched at 10.20pm last night!
The video shows the third chick (who hatched at 5.20am) as it ‘unzips’ the egg before using its head and feet to push open the shell.
The 6 hatched chicks are currently resting and drying in the incubator, where they will stay until tonight.
The 7th egg is starting to ‘pip’ so another chick is egg-spected soon.
The 8th egg is not showing signs as yet.
Day 1 after hatching!
Last night at around 11am, the last chick hatched!
We now have 8 healthy, active chicks.
They all stayed in the incubator over night to dry off and rest.
This morning, we transferred them in to an indoor cage with a heat lamp. They are eating chick crumb, drinking water and enjoying lots of attention!
I will continue to send updates every other day to keep you posted on their developments!
Day 3 After Hatching!
All 8 chicks are doing really well and are very active.
Most of them have lost their egg tooth as it is now unnecessary.
Their wings have started to grow and their wing feathers are starting to come through.
They spend large amounts of time asleep under the warmth of their heat lamp. When they are not sleeping, they are pecking at their food, drinking and scratching about at the floor.
It is very hard to know whether chicks are boys or girls at this stage however this breed (Polish bantams) have slightly different head shapes.
Our initial thoughts are that there are 5 girls and 3 boys. We will not really know though until they are around 10 weeks old.
5 Days Old
The chicks continue to thrive and are eating lots of chick crumb.
Their wings are bigger again and their tail feathers have started growing too.
They now have wood chippings in their cage and happily spend their time scratching about. This is an instinct which they will continue into adulthood.
They aren’t sleeping as much now but do settle down for the night at around 9pm.
7 Days Old
I can’t believe that the chicks are a week old!
They are certainly getting louder and are very active during the day. They seem to be louder when there isn’t much other noise. When the tv or radio are on they seem more settled!
This morning we cleaned out their cage and cleaned their food and water containers. It is important to keep their cage clean.
They are getting lots of attention from my boys!
9 Days Old
The chicks are now 9 days old and are thriving. They are eating more and have grown lots! The colours that they will eventually be are starting to come though as their down turns to feathers.
Task: have a go at sketching a chick using this step by step guide.
2 Weeks Old
The chicks are 2 weeks old! It’s hard to believe that they fit in a small egg only two weeks ago. They have changed and grown so much in that time. Their wings are now feathered and much bigger and their neck, chest and head feathers are starting to come through. They are very active and lively making it tricky to give them so many cuddles despite our best efforts!
They now have wood chip on the floor to scratch around in and a proper chicken feeder to hold their chick crumb.
Looking after the chicks
Some of the chicks have started getting these funny little ‘horn’ feathers!
We cleaned out their cage an hour ago and washed their feet. It’s important to make sure they have clean feet and bottoms to keep them healthy.
They’ve not stopped scratching around in the clean bedding since I put them back in.
20 Days Old
The chicks are now 20 days old and growing rapidly. They look really funny as they are half down and half feathers. They are now jumping out on to our hands when we open the door of the cage and are getting more confident.
22 Days Old
The chicks are now 22 days old and have been enjoying the sunshine.
We sit in the run with them to start with to reassure them and to help with taming them. They are very inquisitive and like jumping on to our legs and even our shoulders!
As they are yet to get all of their feathers, they still need to be kept warm with either the warm sunshine or the heat lamp, therefore they are outside for a few hours only when it is warm and sunny.
27 Days Old
The chicks are now 27 days old.
They enjoyed spending time in a run in the garden over the warm weekend. Here you can see one of them sunbathing!
Their wild hair styles continue to grow!
They are eating more and more each day and soon will be allowed some peas and sweetcorn.
They’ve also started learning to perch on bamboo canes and enjoy getting to the highest position they can!
The chicks love cuddles!
5 Weeks Old
The chicks are now 5 weeks old. They are enjoying being outside in a run in the daytime. At night they come inside and sleep under the heat lamp still.
We are still unsure of their genders but are desperate to know!
6 Weeks Old
The chicks are now 6 weeks old. They no longer require a heat lamp but do still come inside at night.
Yesterday they were allowed to roam in the garden while we watched them. One little one, kept getting up on to my chair and settling down!
7 Weeks Old
The chicks were 7 weeks old on Wednesday!
They’ve had some big changes in the last week and have now move out into the garden full time.
Like our other chickens, they are free range and get shut safely into a coop at night.
They instinctively know to go in to roost as the light starts to fade.
This is their coop:
They are enjoying exploring the garden and discovering our other pets.
Another big development is that we have seen/heard two of them trying to crow! That confirms that two (Cheeky and Fuzz) black and white ones are male.
We are still waiting to find out whether the others are boys or girls.
11 Weeks Old
The chicks are 11 weeks old!!
4 have moved on to new homes as it became obvious that they were males! They started to attempt crowing! Those 4 were all silver and black ones.
Two of them are living at a community farm in Holt that we volunteer at so we will get to see them each week when we go to help.
The other 4 (the gold and black) are still enjoying our garden. We are watching out for crowing and other cockerel behaviours but are hoping that they are girls! It’s tricky to tell with chickens, and even more so with the hair styles Polish chickens have!!
On Friday last week, a friend who is a local gamekeeper asked if any of my older hens were broody. That means they are keen to hatch some eggs. He had a clutch of 9 pheasant eggs that need sitting on.
‘Tracey’ one of my hens was showing signs of being broody and so now she is sitting on 9 pheasant eggs! They will take 24 day to incubate!
Watch this space for pheasant chicks!