The sur­vivor, by Michelle Dunn

You might think that a day-old chick is one of the most vul­ner­a­ble things there is, but you would be wrong, says Michelle Dunn

Your Chickens - - Contents -

One of my ban­tam hens hatched four chicks from a clutch of six eggs, leav­ing two un­hatched eggs be­hind. Later that day I no­ticed a small hole in one of those eggs as though the chick had been try­ing to hatch. The egg was now stone cold, but I know from ex­pe­ri­ence that un­hatched chicks can sur­vive for quite a while in their eggs af­ter they have cooled.

I heard a story once about a pheas­ant farmer who had 200 pheas­ant eggs in in­cu­ba­tors. Two days be­fore they were due to hatch the farm had a power cut and all the eggs went cold. The farmer poured the eggs into a dust­bin of ash from his log-burner ready to get rid of them. When he opened the bin the next day there was an ex­plo­sion of chicks — the heat in the bin had warmed the eggs and the chicks had all hatched.

Any­way, back to my egg with the hole in it. I put the egg on the side of the Ray­burn to warm up and for­got about it. Three hours later it cheeped at me. The chick was alive. I care­fully helped it out and later that night I slipped it back un­der the ban­tam hen. The fol­low­ing morn­ing she was fully in­te­grated into the group.

She was still small and weak, how­ever, and found it dif­fi­cult to keep up with the oth­ers. Later that af­ter­noon I went to check on her and found only four chicks with the ban­tam. I searched ev­ery­where and even­tu­ally found my poor chick, cold and life­less on the floor. I knew there was no hope, but I picked her up any­way and held her in my hands.

Af­ter 15 min­utes there was still no sign of life and I was about to give up when I saw a tiny flicker of move­ment. I held her for another 10 min­utes and then her beak opened. It took another half an hour be­fore she was thor­oughly warmed and back to nor­mal. Once again I re­turned her to her mother and from then on she thrived. I was wor­ried that she might have been dam­aged by that long pe­riod of cold, but no, she’s just per­fect. A fluffy lit­tle su­per­hero.

The ban­tam with all five of her off­spring

Young chicks can be in­cred­i­bly re­silient

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.