Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Time for a catch up

My posts are becoming few and far between and at a time when so much is happening, mostly hatching, so time to update the records.

The Indian Game hatched 6 out of the 7 viable Light Sussex eggs over the Easter weekend. A result I am more than pleased with, considering the problems with the air sacs. The chicks are adorable, true little yellow and white 'Easter chicks'. Now 2 1/2 weeks old they are growing strong and feathering up nicely with the black showing through on the wings and hackle, their black eyes quite striking. As ever the Indian Game hen is proving to be a doting mother.

Over the weekend the eggs in the incubator hatched.Numbers were much lower than expected as when I candled the eggs at 7 days many of the Gold Duckwing Welsummer eggs were clear. It seems the senior cockerel is feeling his age.He has now been moved to head my 'broody' flock a mix of heavy breed hens who at this time of year are my star birds and a younger cock has replaced him in the breeding pen. From the incubator 12 of the 15 Exchequer Leghorns hatched and there were 7 Welsummer chicks so still a good result and the chicks now in the shed under a lamp are growing at an alarming rate. It never fails to amaze me just how quickly their wing feathers develop and how instinctively they find food and water, scratch, preen and dust bath.Already they are sparring with one another.

The first hatch of the year are now 10 weeks old and are free ranging the grass pen at home. The young cockerels are finding their voice and one of the Leghorns has taken role as head of the group calling the pullets to him when he finds food.
The cross between the Welsummer cockerel and the Barnevelder hens looks as if it is going to be successful, the pullet is a pretty, friendly hen who hopefully will be a good layer of brown eggs, the cockerels are very strong, solid looking birds and worth growing on for the table.
The Exchequer Leghorn pullets are nicely marked, a good shape, inquisitive and active.and having bred only from the largest eggs hopefully this trait will be passed onto the pullets. They are proving  (rightly so) a very popular breed for poultry keepers this year and I have had many enquiries.

The second hatch are 6 weeks old and yesterday the mother hen was moved back into the 'broody' flock and the chicks/growers left to fend for themselves. They don't appear to have noticed her absence, although they are squabbling amongst themselves a little more now she isn't there to intervene. Unfortunately most are cockerels, although I do need a replacement cockerel myself this year and have a couple ordered so not so bad and there are a few nice pullets amongst them. In a couple of weeks time they too can free range.

Finally  news on the broody Barnevelder, she has been sitting on 8 eggs; 4 Partridge Welsummer and 4 Maran X Welsummer. They are due to hatch tomorrow and today they have started to pip. At the weekend she will be moved to an ark along with her chicks and the pen in the shed disinfected for the immediate occupation of a Maran and a setting of Exchequer Leghorn eggs.

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