Posted in All about them Chickens

Natural Egg Hatching v/s Heat Lamps: Hitler & her tribe of Nazi’s

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I bet some of you are appalled that I have a chicken named, Hitler. And since we are living in a very sensitive-to-words-age where everyone accuses others of  the race-bomb at the drop of a hat, just by naming some baby chickens Nazi’s—well, I can just see the massive loads of hate mail I’m never gonna bother reading, lol.

If you knew this chicken, you would call her Hitler, too. And she is doing her best to turn three baby chickens into her hate-every-other-chicken-and-living-thing-Nazis, which floors me considering she is a Bantam Cochin—usually, very sweet birds.

To be honest, I raised a bunch of them last year. Had one that the kids called, Butterbean. She was so darling and sweet natured that we would let her into the house, where she’d cuddle with us on the couch. Lost her to the baby pool. She fell in. Crushed us to bits. Lost the others to predators. Only two who survived, one is a loner and the other, the antichrist herself—Hitler.

This chicken, Hitler, was hand raised and spoiled like all my other bantam cochins but for some reason, she turned wicked or decided to show us she was born that way. She comes to us when we take treats or food or when we sit in the yard, but its only to nail us with her beak. She seems happiest when we are walking around with beak bruises left by none other than her.

Have a duck who used to be in love with her. We always fall for the cruel ones, don’t we? But she turned on him the minute I let her hatch out babies.

Now, Mr. Quack Quack follows my other Bantam Cochin around like a love-sick pup. Her name is Amber. Amber wont have anything to do with anyone but she isn’t mean. She isn’t like Hitler. Amber is just a free-bird. A gypsy. Does her own thing separate from the other flock. When she goes into the Coop to lay, Mr. Quack Quack sits outside and waits for her to finish. Then, he is back to following her around the yard like a love-sick pup again.

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So why did I let the antichrist, Hitler, breed? One, I knew who the Daddy was. My Bantam Cochin Roo, named Scrappy. Scrappy is a sweet Roo, never harming any of us but tough enough to keep the other Hens in line. He is a tiny thing but is a lap chicken and like Butterbean, loves coming into the house to cuddle. I was hoping some of Scrappy would rub off on Hitler’s offspring. Whether or not I was right, the jury is still out.

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Two, I remembered how hard it was to find Cochins. I didn’t want to have to order from a hatchery again. Not that I have a bad-hatchery hookup but when you have other birds you need to order, well, the Bill can get high.

And three, and most importantly, I guess I was also hoping motherhood would soften Hitler a bit. I was also hoping she’d have some nice babies like Scrappy and Butterbean.

She was the first to go Broody and the most determine. So, I let her sit on some eggs. I learned A LOT from this experience. A LOT.

You want to mark dates on your eggs. It takes 21 days to hatch an egg. A Broody chicken pretty much stops laying and they don’t lay an entire clutch of eggs all in one day. That’s why you mark them with dates. That helps you keep track of the 21 days.. I was also using Ambers eggs. I wasn’t out to sell these Cochins or ever breed them to sell. These are my own personal birds. I don’t even give them away. So I didn’t care if I was mixing colors or not. I didn’t mark my eggs, though, so that became something of a problem, later on. I had to use an old timey method to see if eggs were bad or not. I had to wait and gently shake them after the incubation time was at an estimated end. I didn’t do this till a few weeks after three babies were born, when I didn’t hear anymore pecking or peeping inside the eggs and she wasn’t hatching anymore out.

Sadly, I lost about six more chics out of live and learn stupidity. Thing is, once the Hen hatches three or so, she stops giving a damn about the other eggs. She doesn’t sit on them as much. She moves them around and might push some away completely. I found one she moved around and left that had halfway pecked it’s way out but died. A friend and fellow natural hatcher told me this was common. Either there was something wrong with it or it went cold and just gave up. There were quite a few others who never hatched out. They peeped and pecked (you could hear them if you placed the egg to your ear) but I left them alone and she pushed them cold. They died inside. To prevent this next year, he told me to place a towel on a heating pad. If she hatches some and leaves the rest, place them on the heating pad. That should keep them warm enough to hatch out. I also lost one more that was half-pecked open. Again, the heating pad should help that. The rest, sounded like water inside. They were duds.

Benefits to natural incubation—Mom does all the work. She kept them warm. She fed them. She teaches them how to forage. She protects them. She does everything. I kept them separated from the other flock but she chose, once I started letting them out of their pen to free-range with her, as to when to take them back into her regular Coop.. That’s right, she chose when.

I also believed these chics matured faster than those I get from hatcheries, incubate and put under a heat lamp. I also think they grew faster—call me crazy. By mature, I mean, learn how to forage and fend for themselves.

I always feel like I’m roasting chics under heat lamps, so to speak. Always keeping temps or track of them—keeping lamps to the end of a tote so chics can escape. didn’t have to worry about any of that with Hitler. These chics came out from under her when they were warm and went back when they were cold. Also call me nuts, but I swear they feathered out quicker.

If I was smart, I would have taken some of her eggs, marked them, but placed them under the other Broody birds since Hitler sent them all into Broody-Hell to begin with. And I may do that next year…we will see. I like natural hatching better, though. For that much, I’m sure. As for Hitler, I’m hoping they all hit their terrible teens and drive her batty. Serve her right for all the bruises she has given me. Then, I hope they run around from home and then come cuddle with us on the couch, lol!

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