I haven’t really mentioned chickens much thus far on the blog. I guess not much chicken-y happens in May and June – the end of autumn and the beginning of winter. I mean, all of the “chicks”, now pullets, have started laying two or three months ago, and I didn’t really have any intention to hatch out more chicks until September or October – that is, spring.
And then one of the local grain and fodder shops contacted my father about a month ago, and asked for a batch of chicks. Now, just to clarify, this wasn’t a completely random thing. They’re regular customers of my father’s, and I already supplied them with a batch of chicks in January or February. They’re further out from the city than where I live, so I guess they’ve pretty much got a corner on the market – they buy and sell the chicks at what I would consider a slightly excessive price. They’re particularly eager to buy purebreds, particularly since their previous supplier moved interstate at the end of last year, but unfortunately for them, I don’t even own any purebred adult birds from which to breed, let alone have two of the same breed. But they’ll still pay $5 apiece for mixed-breed, unsexed layers. I’m not going to say no to that!
So, naturally, after being told of the order, I started collecting and turning eggs to put in the incubator. And, I mean, it’s winter. It’s raining. The hens aren’t laying well. I only put one incubator on – it takes 4 dozen. It took far longer than I’d have liked to collect enough eggs (especially considering I have regular customers for eggs). And I may never know why on earth the grain and fodder shop wants day-old chicks in the middle of winter. I mean, who would want to keep these chicks under heat, indoors, for weeks on end? But still, it’s good money, and it’s their problem.
All up, twelve chicks hatched. It’s a nice round number, but only a 25% hatch rate, which isn’t particularly good, as you might imagine. But then again, I knew I was dealing with a number of very new layers, so I didn’t expect the hatch rate to be particularly spectacular. I usually get about a 75% hatch rate.
I sent the chicks off with my father this morning. The grain and fodder shop is about 45-50 minutes away, so it’s not exactly somewhere I’m keen to be traipsing off to regularly, and he had to head off in that direction anyway.
It was sort of sad to see them go. But then again, I didn’t really want to have to deal with a dozen chicks in a brooder indoors for the next eight weeks. At least in summer they can go outside at about ten to fourteen days.
So there you have it: a dozen chicks.