Newbie here so please go easy!
We acquired a pair of Wyandotte Bantams a couple of months ago. The hen then went into her first lay and proceeded to deliver .... wait for it! 17 eggs !!!
By any stretch, she was too small to cover all of them so I acquired a basic incubator and put 7 of the oldest eggs in it, knowing that a few of them would probably not be viable as she didnt start brooding till the 17th egg was laid. The older ones were left for more than a fortnight so not surprising. Candling after day 8 in the incubator confirmed that only 3 were showing signs of life, air sac etc. Today is Day 16 and another candling has unfortunately shown only 1 well developed chick nearly filling the egg. Now, this is the one egg that had a crack in it which I have taped over ... on approximately Day 10. In spite of the taped crack, it seems to be developing really well. I have discarded the remaining 6 and locked down the one egg as I understand that Day 16 is appropriate for locking down Bantams.
In the meanwhile, all 10 of the eggs under the hen are looking good after 2 sets of candling. The hen is doing a super job of brooding seeing as it is her first time, only leaving the eggs for a few minutes to feed, dust bath and drink about once a day.
Now here is my question. When the 1 chick in the incubator hatches (I am really hoping it does), can I slip it in with the rest of the brood? Will the hen accept or reject it? Is there a trick to getting her to accept the lone one?
PS - I have never hatched in this country ... I am used to breeding hens and budgies back in India 30 years ago.
Oh, and welcome, we are a friendly bunch and I hope some of my colleagues may be able to help further!
Forgot to add, I do it towards dusk, light is fading, Mum is less alert and soon they all go to sleep.
Firstly, I guess I am counting chickens before they are hatched because we are only at Day 16 since the first full day when she properly sat down to hatch. Because I have heard that bantams typically hatch for about 19 days instead of the full size 21 days, I am hoping to see some chickens by the weekend. Lock down has commenced today on the incubator. Humidity has been wound up to 65%.
Since I moved the 7 eggs from under her to the incubator, I am hoping the will all hatch around the same date.
Good to hear that I can try and introduce the chick to the rest of them. I will leave the 1 chick I am hoping will hatch in the incubator for 24 hours and the attempt to slip it in with the rest late one evening after the sun is down. The only reason I am not slipping the 1 egg in with the rest of the 10 eggs under her is because it is cracked. Still doing really well though. Will post updates as the drama unfolds!
Now just a query as I am sure this has come up before.
The chicks have progressed from chick crumb to growers pellets.
The mummy hen has started laying again and is on layers pellets.
I dont want the chicks eating the layers pellets. How do others manage this please? They are free ranging in the garden together.
If I suppose the only way to keep the growers on their own pellets is to pen them in a separate area with their own food, at least during the day, or to do the same with the hens. I would hazard a guess that it would probably be best to keep the growers off the high-calcium layers food until 16 weeks because of the risk of kidney damage, but if they’re free ranging anyway they’ll be getting more variety of food than birds only fed on pellets, so I don’t know how important this is. Maybe others with experience if raising mixed flocks can contribute experience?
I kept all the birds on growers till about 16 weeks if they were all in together. I figured it didn't matter if the hen didn't lay much (give her a rest), it was more important that the babies grew up well. At some point you may wish to separate them anyway, sometimes young males get a bit annoying and usually (but not always) at some point Mum wants to go off and rejoin the flock. When that happens then naturally Mum goes onto layers with other hens and the growers stay on growers.
Unfortunately, none of the eggs in the incubator hatched and I have learnt a hard lesson about cheap incubators. It was one of these small ones that a friend gave to me. I found out too late that even in a tiny incubator (6" diameter), there are hot and cold spots and the humidity was all over the pace too. I found this out by introducing probes for a thermometer and hygrometer after they all failed. So the only eggs that hatched were the one that mummy hen did herself.
Out of the 6 viable ones under her, 5 of them hatched no problem. The last one was stuck with the membrane visibly drying off to a dark brown colour and becoming hard as we watched. My 22 year old daughter who is a natural with animals, scooped it up after the mother abandoned it and walked off with the chicks. Over the course of the next 4 hours ... with a warm, wet kitchen roll down her top, she patiently hatched it by hand. It is actually doing the best out of the whole lot!.
OK - Coming back to the feeding, I will take your advice and stop trying to feed them separately as it is becoming a nightmare. They can all eat the growers pellets till the chicks are ready for layers. The stock I have may get a bot stale but I will asses it then and either bin it or feed it to them depending on how it looks and smells.
Next challenge will be when the roosters (if any) make themselves known. For now, they are all behaving and looking very much like ladies. Keep you posted!