Compassion in World Farming

Sunday, 4 October 2009

....and then there were 15!

We now have 15 little chicks in the brooder!
Yesterday, one little chick was having trouble finding his feet & was just flapping about in the sawdust. It's motion was attracting it's stronger brooder mates & they were pecking at it's flailing feet. So last night I sat in the shed gently giving the little fellow some 'chick physiotherapy' to get it to flex it's feet & straighten it's back. I was very gently & the little chap looked up at me with a look in it's little eyes that somehow made me feel as if I was doing the right thing. When I popped it back down it managed to take a few steps! Then it plopped down again. So I let it take a nap & then again gently massaged it's feet & back. The second time I put it down I knew it was going to be just fine. It wibbled & wobbled a bit but it managed to stay upright! I wept tears of joy as it teetered about, standing up tall & no longer looking vulnerable. Today it looks as strong as the rest of the chicks that hatched at the same time.
There is just one more little chap I'm worried about now. It seems weaker than the rest, but have managed to get it to take a sip of water & when I checked in on it just a little while ago it was definitely looking a little better. It is managing to get to it's feet & is cheeping well, so I have a much better feeling about it. Of all the eggs it has been the Chamois Polish Frizzles that have been the most problematic. I have to confess to helping 2 of the chicks hatch, despite lots of people telling me not to intervene in any way. However, the book I've been following suggested it was OK to assist a little providing the chick had pipped & they had both managed to make a good sized crack in their eggs. However, no progress had been made for some time & I could see that the membranes & feathers looked very dry & I guessed that the chicks were dehydrating. So I carefully took them out of the incubator, dripped warm water onto them to help moisten the membranes & release the feathers that had become stuck to them. Then I gently tore a little more of the now softened membrane & chipped a little more of the shell until the chicks rallied & began cheeping at me. Then I popped them back into the incubator lying against some moistened kitchen paper & let them do the rest. They both then managed to make it out and I was so relieved & happy. But it's one of these chicks that I'm worried about, so I'm hoping & praying I didn't do the wrong thing by intervening. I will find it hard to forgive myself if I have brought this little scrap into the world just to die a little later. It's so difficult to know what is the right thing to do when you have incubated artificially & you feel that those little lives are completely in your hands.
The rest of my little darlings are eating & drinking & looking more & more adorable by the minute. Despite the little worries, I'm in a perfect place right now - feeling full to the brim with joy & wonderment!


  1. I hope they'll be okay, the ones you helped, and it runs counter to my instincts too, not to help out, but Betty our Light Sussex last year had a prolapse-type thing, a gap in her tummy muscles, that the vet said was in no doubt caused by her being helped from the egg by the breeder. He said it's common to find chicks can't hatch because of disability - but like I say, it runs against me not helping either, so all you can do what you're already doing: not which chicks you helped, and watch them as they grow on into adulthood.

    The 'chick physio' made me smile. It's exactly the kind of attentiveness I believe in giving. x

  2. Sorry that last 'not' should have read 'note'! :-)

  3. I think it is pretty standard practice to give a little help if needed. You do have to remember that there will always be one or two weak ones who won't survive. The trouble is that when you have an incubator, I know you feel so responsible for them, don't you.
    There is nothing more cruel than hens attacking a weakling but I am afraid they often do just that. My geese almost killed a little white bantam hen of mine a few years ago - I had to remove her because the other hens began to join in. When she was fully recovered it took the hens several days to accept her back without giving her a hard time. Do hope you manage to rear them all. My book on hens says Frizzels are harder to rear. Good luck!

  4. Don't worry too much. We helped one of my chickies!
    I'm so proud! Maybe this sounds silly but it's true! I feel proud whenever I hear about chicks hatching these days!

  5. you big soft pudding!!!

    well at least you have done all the right things....I can almost sense the emotional hoops you are going to go through if toy have 10 cockerels and 5 hens!!
    yeap been there,,,,,,,worn the t shirt!!

    well done,,!!!!!!!!!!!! ]
    turkeys next????

  6. Well you can probably guess I'd have done exactly the same. 15 thats fab sara, everytime I look at the pictures I swear they look cuter.


  7. yay sis, well done! but I think the ducks are soon going to feel a wee bit outnumbered!!

  8. I love chickens, especially baby chicks. Mike and I have a bunch incubating now. They should hatch next week while our friend is here visiting from Texas. I'm looking forward to it.