Buying chicks from Chicken Debbie at Agway the past two years has shielded me from many of the less-than-cute realities of chick hatching. The most notable among these is the violent and cruel end awaiting the vast majority of male chicks. Hatching one’s own chicks means taking responsibility for the lives (or deaths) of all those boys.
Every wonder how chicks are sexed? I always thought it involved peering at chick bits with a loup, but I was wrong! In reality, sexing is done by the emerging wing feathers.
You see, pullets develop faster than cockerels, at least for the first few weeks. Just like humans, the boys catch up and pass the girls later. I can do that!
One must also deal with any dead or deformed chicks, yet another unpleasant task done for you at your friendly neighbourhood hatchery. I can do that…I think. Once you have a brooder full of healthy day olds, though, your work as hatcher is not yet over.
The vast majority of chicks purchased from a hatchery (whether directly or through a feed store) have been vaccinated for Mareks, a deadly, highly-virulent illness which can wipe out an entire flock in short order. You want to hatch? You’d better be ready to vaccinate for Mareks. I’m sure there is many a hatcher who opts out of this task; I won’t be taking that chance.
I had hoped that vaccinating would be something easy, like drops of medication in the water. Bzzzzz. Sorry. There is an actual injection involved, but, fortunately it is subcutaneous. I went to youtube to learn what I was in for in about 18 days, and found this.
I can do that!