Posts Tagged ‘Hatching’

Spring

April 9, 2016

Admittedly, THE VIEW today didn’t look particularly spring-like…

THE VIEW

…and even the few daffodils that we have, were bowing their heads in the rain.daffodil

Even so, it’s a new season and there are new lives at Garybuie. The first arrivals were six Cuckoo Maran chicks.

Maran chicks

Our laying hens are dwindling in numbers through natural wastage so we thought we’d get some new blood by buying some eggs online. We bought a dozen but struggled throughout the incubation with humidity levels. Whether that affected the hatch rate I don’t know, but the outcome was disappointing. It looks like three of them could be female. (Darker head colour in the Cuckoo Maran)

Over the last couple of days Thelma, the Silkie, hatched four Silkie chicks. These chicks are destined for a new home when they’ve grown; a birthday present for a young lassie.

Thelma and chicks

There are other birds awaiting their own spring arrivals, including BB and Louise who are in the same ‘maternity wing’ as Thelma!

L to R, Thelma, BB and Louise

L to R, Thelma, BB and Louise

Polly Blue-tail made her nest a bit too early I think as a particularly cold snap has seemingly thwarted her efforts, as she’s already a week overdue. Mrs Under-by however, began a week or so later, opting for the main coop this time rather than the Guineafowl house!

mrs under-by

And let’s not forget the other young lives at Garybuie, Hamish and Dottie, who are now discovering the great outdoors!

Hamish

Dottie

Always up to mischief, outdoors or in!

Hamish and Dottie

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Hatch and dispatch

May 21, 2015

It was a good day yesterday. The weather was pleasant, Mrs Under-by managed to hang on to her remaining ducklings (despite regular fly-bys by the hooded terror) and Louise hatched four chicks!

Louise

Louise

And there’s more hatching going on as I write; quail this time, our third batch which was unexpected as there was obviously some mix-up at the supplier’s end and although the eggs have had to hang around for longer than is preferred, (waiting for the incubator to be vacated) so far 13 have successfully put in an appearance.

quail chicks

That’s the first batch off in the hat transporter to the brooder. They’re a blurry bunch right enough, not because of my poor camera skills for a change but because they are CONSTANTLY on the move. All squirming and clambering! I love the discarded quail eggs. They are all exactly the same; a very neat split in the shell, almost as though it’s un-zipped!

quail egg

At the ‘darker’ end of quail production however, yesterday Kevin dispatched the first birds. They were seven weeks old which is a wee bit early but one of the females from the more boisterous group had suffered a broken leg. We thought that maybe there were too many males around so whittled them down to two males per run in the hope of restoring peace. Eventually, there will just be one male per run but until they are sexually active, we’re taking a ‘just in case’ view. Unsurprisingly, one of the males from the same run as the injured female had very large testes, a problem we’ve come across in chickens in the past when young cockerels have demonstrated excessive aggression.

So, it would seem that quail is on the menu tonight! You can see the severe bruising on the small, injured female.

Hinnisdal Quail

Weird family planning!

May 11, 2015

There’s plenty of family planning going on around the place at the moment. Polly Blue-tail appears to have been the only mother who planned it right; in a nest box in the duck house. Unfortunately, being a single parent, without eyes in the back of her head, has meant that she’s lost two of her offspring, probably to the dreaded crows.
ducklings Yesterday, Mrs Under-by hatched her new family of eight, an extra two having been sneaked in there after MY family planning of a ‘Max 6’ strategy! You may remember that her spot of bad planning was the fact that she chose a nesting-box in the Guinea Gang’s house, a foot off the ground! In order to avoid concussion of the wee mites when leaving the nest, we decided that some nice, soft straw should break their fall. Kevin went out first thing this morning to let the Guineas out. Soon after, Mrs Under-by took herself off for some ‘me time’, instructing the wee ones to stay put! The ideal opportunity then for Kevin to transplant the ducklings from box to straw, under the stern gaze of herself! On her return, it didn’t take long before she encouraged them out into the big, wide world where they met their cousins!

ducklings

There was confusion for a while with the new kids not knowing who to follow and mother ducks scolding each other’s offspring! It’s interesting to see the difference in size, with Polly Blue-tail’s ducklings at three weeks old now.
Still with ducks, Puff has been settled on her nest for about a week, with Biggles still laying next door. Yesterday however, Puff decided to move into Biggles’ box, possibly because the ducklings had taken to sleeping with her and making a mess in there. So, the revised plan seems to be one of sharing!

Puff and Biggles

Planning with the Silkies involves ‘Musical Boxes’. Louise started to sit (on regular hen eggs once more) about a week ago. Then Thelma joined in.

Thelma and Louise

If they both leave the nest at the same time, the music begins and whoever returns first just plonks herself down on the first eggs that she sees!

Thelma and Louise

But the award for the worst planning of all goes to the Plymouth Rock hen, a first-timer. You’d think that all was well with this cosy looking nest…

Plymouth Rock

…but don’t be fooled! Two of the other hens are still laying in the same nest (which I remove) so a couple of eggs have got broken. The nest is also somewhat nomadic, moving to different positions in the coop. Sometimes she sits on the eggs, others she sits on the straw with no eggs. Somehow I don’t think she’s cut out for this motherhood malarkey!

And finally, a technique which seemingly involves no planning at all! The Guinea Fowl Technique. We’ve had about half-a-dozen eggs from them so far and not a nest in sight; just a single egg placed randomly on the grass or by a bush! I understand that they like to lay in a shallow depression in tall plants, well, everything’s so slow at coming on with such unseasonably, cold weather, that any formal nest-building has been put on hold!

Eggs

Moving on and a bit of aggro!

April 20, 2015

Still great weather although a wee breeze today and some clouds of the big and fluffy variety.

The view

Today the quail are three weeks old; time to move on. We split them into two groups before re-housing them in the floor runs. They really appreciated the trays of earth to bathe in!

quail

Whilst moving them, we took the opportunity to sex them which is possible at this stage in their development; eleven males and thirteen females. The males have a russet tinge to their chest feathers…

Male quail

…whereas the females don’t.

female quail

Here’s a shot where you can compare the colouration. The female is in the foreground, the male standing behind.

quail

They certainly appear to be a happy wee flock! However, a whole lot of aggro was on display elsewhere this afternoon. I suspect that Polly Blue-tail is part way through hatching her new family and I was on the receiving end of some serious attitude at feeding time! Her position has completely changed. Can you see how she’s ‘hovering’ above the nest? Presumably there’s new life under her which prefers not to be sat on thank you very much!

Polly Blue-tail

Now here’s something you don’t see every day…

Blue Tit

This particular blue-tit insists on performing a tap-dance on the conservatory roof every morning; either that or peering in through the upstairs bedroom window! Does he like his own reflection or has he espied somewhere through the glass which looks like a promising nest site? Either way, he/she allows his/her partner to sit on the telephone wire and appreciate such nifty footwork!

Brief catch-up

April 6, 2015

We opened for B and B on the first of the month. No gentle introduction this year; right in there, feet first, hit with a sledgehammer kind of thing. It’s weird but it’s really difficult trying to retrieve the smooth (most of the time) execution of the breakfast routine after a six month break. And we have evening meals on offer this season which is a new routine altogether! Consequently, I’ve missed reporting our wee bit of recent news; BB hatched three of her six regular eggs, just missing Easter but she is one happy Silkie anyway!

BB and chicks

We’re now down to 24 quail, gradually losing the less robust birds over the weekend. The remainder are all doing well and growing fast. They eat so much for such wee things!

quail

Not all good news

April 1, 2015

Sadly, out of the sixty quail eggs that we incubated, only thirty-two hatched, six of those needing assistance. So far, four have died, a couple of them are looking a bit dodgy on their pins and one has a bendy neck!. We’ll see. I don’t know, I just feel that the incubator was perhaps too full, even though it’s meant to hold 72 quail eggs. It’s just that when they begin to hatch, they’re clambering all over the un-hatched eggs, generally having a good old game of football! Consequently, when there’s a reasonable number of hatchlings, we ship ’em out to the brooder. The problem with this is that the incubator humidity drops which isn’t ideal.
Today, I thought that I’d do a wee bit of housekeeping in the brooder. Getting the chicks to move into the non-heated run was enough of a challenge, one which I finally conquered by getting a piece of cardboard and using it like a snow plough to guide the wee guys next door, then blocking off the entrance. I took a video of the result, which made me smile!

Honestly, you’d think that I’d banished them to the arctic the way that they’re competing for the circle of heat! Anyway, we’ve ordered a further 36 eggs to make up the shortfall. More room in the incubator too!

Making an entrance

March 30, 2015

There was one wee quail ready to greet us at breakfast time this morning! Here’s a quick peek at our first ten arrivals after being transported in the trusty fleece hat to the brooder in the old church.

quail chicks

quail chicks

As I write, a further five have hatched, so still a way to go yet!

Girls together

February 14, 2015

A perfect day; crisp and cold to start with, developing into a gloriously, sunny winter’s day.

The view

Polly blue-tail has abandoned here misconceived early nest, thoroughly enjoying the great outdoors once more. (Mrs Under-by is currently making a nest in the shed!)

Polly Blue-tail

Most of the hens, ducks and Guinea Gang were foraging far and wide, unavailable to the camera but BB and Wee Man came to keep us company in the veg plot…

Silkies

…while we finally got around to completing the fruit cage in its permanent position.

fruit cage

The best news however, is that almost a week after Thelma hatched her chick, Louise, her sister, produced a solitary offspring and both girls seem thrilled with this whole motherhood thing! Silkies are certainly different in their behaviour than ‘regular’ hens. I have never seen any mother hen getting so close to another with her chicks…

Thelma and Louise

Even more interesting, is that when it comes time for a snooze, both chicks keep each other company under one hen! Look at these two wee faces peeping out from under Thelma…

Thelma and Louise

We took out the partition which separated the Silkie run into two and now all four adults, including Wee Man, are living as a family group! Louise sleeps with BB and Wee Man, whilst Thelma snuggles down with both chicks in a nest box. Amazing!

Don’t get excited but….

February 9, 2015

…there are a couple of encouraging signs around Garybuie which make me feel as though we’re at the right end of winter – the back-end! Signs which raise the spirits at least.

snowdrops

Thelma the Silkie doesn’t care what season it is and presented us with a solitary chick at the weekend, two didn’t hatch, thrilled that she’s become a mum for the first time.

Thelma with chick

Louise is also sitting on three eggs but doesn’t seem quite so focussed but who knows? All three Silkies have been determined to sit throughout the winter months and we kept removing their eggs. This made not the slightest difference to their intentions, so on the latest occasion, we’ve let the two sisters fulfil their wishes, albeit exchanging their own eggs for regular hen eggs. I feel so sorry for them when they sit for weeks with no family at the end of it! The comical thing has been that if both Silkies left their respective nests at a similar time, whoever returned first plumped for the nest nearest to the door, the last arrival heading for the one furthest away. A game of ‘musical nests’ it would seem, although they were both on the correct nests when Thelma’s chick began to hatch.

Nothing to do with the weather at all, the Guinea Gang have been enjoying the discovery of new perches; any roof will do and in this case, the conservatory one provided a whole new perspective as it’s good for checking out what those humans get up to! This particular perch will certainly provide a topic of conversation over breakfast during the B and B season if it’s still in use!

Guinea fowl

Back to the blog

July 9, 2014

Garybuie’s blog has taken a back seat for the past week as Kevin’s mum & aunt have been visiting. We all had a relaxing time together and the weather was fairly kind although it was breezy on and off with the odd shower thrown in for good measure. A tip for visiting Skye: Always wear layers, the top one being waterproof! Now although both ladies are Yorkshire lasses, ‘Calendar Girls’ they certainly weren’t – more like a ‘Pack-a-mac Pair’!

pack-a-mac pair

pack-a-mac pair

Of course nothing else around the place had the week off. Veggies and ducklings are a-growing at a great rate and today we had a lovely surprise when Nest Thief emerged from amidst the tall grass and wild flowers with seven chicks!

nest thief

Needless to say that everyone had to come and inspect the new arrivals!

visiting the newcomers


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