Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Lesson in Bird Hatching

OK, I wanted to put a post together to  talk about eggs and hatching. There are a few things that strike me about hatching our birds on the farm, so let me show you!
First, here are the 4 types of birds I have successfully hatched on my farm. Well, yeah, it's all the birds we raise on the farm!  It took us a while to find guinea eggs, Larry actually put a chicken egg in the incubator, thinking it was a guinea egg, until we started to see the egg shown below. They are strikingly different than a chicken egg, and much smaller. I used a mid-sized chicken egg for this picture, we get them much smaller and much larger than what is shown.  The turkey egg below is on the small size, but the largest I could find last night for the photo, and the duck egg is typical for us, but my friend Mo, who raises Muscovies thinks these are teeny tiny. We raise smaller ducks, so they lay smaller eggs.  All the eggs below have a 28 day incubation period, except the chicken, who incubates for 21 days. 

 So now you know what the egg looks like, let's see what comes out of them.

Below, I have images of baby birds of each breed and an adult bird, so you can see what they grow into. The baby and adult pictures are not the same bird, so the feathering patterns aren't indicative, but you can see how their size and shape fills out as they grow, and how those cute little fuzzballs may or may not be so cute when they get bigger.

These are day-old guineas, which are called keets. They are the most ridiculously cute baby birds I have ever hatched. If you have ever hatched eggs, you will know it is addictive. Who wouldn't want to hatch more and more of these adorable little birds?  But what amazes me - these cute little fluff balls grow into....

These... these are adult guineas. I am still not good at determining their sex from the nubs on their heads. They are NOT born with those ridiculous nubs on their heads, they wouldn't be so cute if they were. These are the noisiest birds (aside from pea hens, which are really loud.)  We are actually butchering every one of them this year and never raising them again. They fly, they wander all over the neighborhood, and that's it. We just don't need them. They really are so loud.

OK, onto the next little fluff ball...
These are baby chicks. These guys are almost a week old, this is the meat breed version, and at a day old, they look like teeny little tennis balls with feet, Round, fuzzy and wiggly.

They grow up to look like this. This is Friend Bird (she passed away this year) but not after giving us 2 roosters and a hen (who is named Friend of Fang).  She hatched her own, they all grew up to be black, they didn't get her Hamburg speckles.  Chickens are not necessarily attractive as adult birds, but better looking than those guineas!

Which brings me to turkey babies. AW!!  Look how cute they are, too! Their feet are a little creepy, but who cares. They are adorable, and we hatch some every day! Not as cute as those little guineas, but amazing that such a small little thing can grow into this...

OK, so guineas grow nobs in their heads... turkey toms grow snoods, waddles and beards and really big tails. And they can turn their face blue when they feel like it. Incredible.
Which brings us to...

Ducklings!!  OK, I still think guinea keets are the cutest out of the shell. Ducklings at a day old are very awkward, with a big round belly, and a big beak.  But in a week, they take the cake, as their body fills out, their neck looks less wonky. Ducklings, for the duration, and the cuteness winners. When they get big enough to swim, like above, they are unbareably cute. And they stay fluffier longer, as it takes a long time for them to put their feathers on. And when they do...

They retain beauty and poise that the other birds do not. They are quieter, no silly nobs, snoods or combs on their heads. Yeah, they walk funny, but they swim with grace and poise. I love all my birds, but ducks are my favorite (except when it comes to plucking... but that's a story for another day!)

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