Hey guys, it's Karami from the Magpie Farm!
Last week has been busy with hatching a new breed of eggs for me, doctoring up lame chicks and also hand feeding with a syringe. These issues were new to me, but with the experience and advice of others tested and true remedies I was able to give the best support to the sick ones.
I had two chicks that were hatched with splayed legs – meaning they were out to the sides and the chick could not get its feet under it to stand, never mind walk! This can be caused by a slippery surface when hatched or by being in the shell a bit too long or temperature fluctuations in incubation. (I used a new incubator- enough said.) The fix is relatively easy – tape their little legs together at a normal distance apart with a small length of bandaid. Their bones are soft for about their first 5 days, after this they start to harden and any adjustments can cause pain. So these two chicks could not walk so they could not get water or food, which meant that was up to me to feed them. I used a syringe (with no needle) to drop water on the side of their beaks at least 5 times a day and their food was a boiled egg yolk with water to make a liquid that I would also feed by syringe. The smallest chick named Pixie started walking within two days and was well on her way to eating at the feeder with the others.
The other chick we named Teddy – because he could only sit on his butt like a little teddy bear and his feet stuck straight out in front of him. Poor Teddy could not stand, he would shuffle around and he would flip onto his back and could not right himself at all. So on day one I fixed his little legs together with a small hair-tie and a spacer of a piece of a drinking straw cut to fit. It was loose enough just to keep his feet in line. I also had to pull his legs back under him so they would be in the correct position for him to stand by taping them back with a strip of bandaid. I fed and watered Teddy 5-7 times a day for 3 days straight because he wasn't eating anything and could not get to the water dish. Teddy also got home made electrolyte solution to help him through and give him extra energy to try to walk. Teddy and most of the chicks hatched on a Thursday, Saturday morning I woke up and checked on the chicks and found that Teddy had pushed himself into the one small corner that the heat lamp didn't warm very much. I picked him up and he was stone cold but still alive. I rushed him upstairs to warm him up under my blow dryer and it seemed to help. I ended up putting him in a square Pyrex baking dish under the heat lamp so he would be able to stay warm and not shuffle away. Teddy was so weak from trying to walk and flop around he would not open his eyes for the first 3 days. He was able to just barely stand after 3 days, and started wobbly walking after 5 days. It has been 8 days and I finally removed the leg braces, and he can keep up just fine with all the other chicks. He is perky, pushes his way through for food and runs around like crazy.
Teddy and Pixie 8 days old are and doing well. I think both are straight silkie, we will see as they feather out.
We have a mix of breeds that I hatched of silkies, polish cross, naked neck and possibly sizzle chicks. Time will tell as they feather out and mature to see what a strange and beautiful mix we end up with. Figuring out if a silkie is a hen or a rooster is notoriously hard to determine and even the most experienced silkie breeder can second guess themselves when figuring out the sex of a silkie. The advice I have read is that you have to wait until you hear it crow. So it seems we have at least 7 months of guessing what ones are roosters in this group. I will be keeping at least one rooster for this group of hens, maybe more if they have nice temperaments.
The three white chicks I have are one naked neck on the right for sure, that one was easy. I think the one in the middle may be a polish rooster by his high poof on his head and his bold attitude. The one on the far left plain white beautiful silkie.
The three dark ones are also very different as the one on the far right is a pure ameraucana from one of my hens. The other two look like they may be pure silkies with all grey with white spots once they mature.
This last week we have had snow and cold overnight temperatures into minus 20 degree celcius. It feels like second and third winter and the snow is never ending. When real spring time temperatures finally come here in Alberta it will be welcomed and appreciated like never before.
Next week I will give an update on Fiona and her possible pregnancy. I'm still on the fence about that and she would be due in 3 weeks. You think I would be able to tell right? Well, I met with a neighbor who had a Hereford heifer in labor and she wasn't any wider at all than Fiona. So that made me rethink that Fiona might actually be pregnant and she doesn't need to look like a balloon with legs.
Until next week, I'll be watching Fiona,