Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hatching Nankins

Today I have some nankin eggs hatching in the incubator. They are a very small breed of chicken, with a maximum weight of about 22 ounces. As a result, they are very tiny chicks when they first hatch. I could easily fit 5 or 6 of them in my hand. I had purchased eggs from eBay for them and they had arrived well packaged and intact, which is always a bonus when one buys eggs online! Many thanks to the seller (BBlackburne) for his excellent packaging and for sending eggs that were clearly fresh and fertile!

After 21 long days of incubating and carefully candling eggs, I was thrilled to find that 9 seemed to be developing, which is also very impressive for mailed eggs. So far, I have 3 hatched and 2 more pipped (that means that there is a small hole in the egg that the chick has made) and 4 without signs of emergence yet.

Here's a picture of the 3 hatchlings so far. One thing I find particularly interesting about them is the difference in colours between them all. So if you look carefully, you'll see that the one furthest to the left has various dark markings on its back and head, and has a brownish/gold cast overall. The middle one towards the top of the photo has a greyish cast overall and less defined back markings, but still a spot on its head. Then the third and most recent hatch is nearly all gold colour with a small dark head mark. What this all means, I have no idea, but it's very intriguing and I will enjoy watching them mature and seeing how their colours change!

The laying hens have decided that winter is not their favourite time of year, so they are not laying much. I had only 1 egg today and 1 yesterday. Not what I would ideally like! Hens have a tendency to lay fewer eggs when the day length is short and when the days are darker it seems. Of course, the other possibility is they've found another spot to lay their eggs outside of the nesting boxes, and I am not wise to their little game. It would not surprise me. Must keep an eye out for egg hoards when I am cleaning up the garden!


henbogle said...

You may know this, but hens need 15 hours of daylight to lay regularly. You can replicate this by installing a light in the coop if you want to increase their laying. The light can have the added benefit of providing a little heat to the coop (especially beneficial where there are fewer chickens such as at Henbogle).

Otherwise, when the days begin to grow longer, they will lay more frequently.

Claire said...

Yesterday I discovered that more were laying than I thought - they had a secret stash. I am going to post about it soon! We do have a red 250 watt heat bulb in the coop at night but that is for heat and I don't think the red light has the same effect. The red stars seem to lay regardless, but the others are on a rest period. I'm OK with that. I might install a solar lamp soon that has a remote that I can activate from inside the house for a couple of hours after sunset. They certainly seem to lay more on sunnier days too!