Picture day. C3.0 on Day 26. Is he or isn’t she?

Here’s an addendum to the Lavender Ameraucana pics. Here is Cordelia from the side:

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And Angel:

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They have been dramatically different, feather-wise, since Day One. Here’s Cordelia’s wing feathering at about 6 days:

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And Angel’s, the same day:

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Fred’s feathering looks just like Cordelia’s, only scaled down.

Now, all that remains is for me to be proved wrong, but I’m feeling pretty right. She said.

Picture day. C3.0 on Day 26.

It seemed as though the rain would never stop and the sun would never shine, but it has and it has. Halleluia! I’ve been looking for a day that wasn’t so very cold to take C3.0 out of the brooder and out from under the heat lamp for updated photos. Spreading and preserving the cute, yes, but also informative; I am impatient to know how many hens I have.

(By the way, it might amuse you to know that, in my head, C3.0 is C3PO.)

The sexing is foregone for many of C3.0 (See? You’re doing it now, too.). I am as certain as I can be without pissing off Mother Nature that I have a minimum of two Blue Copper Marans roos. My beloved Big Blue, the biggest, the fastest, the most precocious, who I had hoped would be a hen, crowed on Day 19, dashing my hopes. That his wattles are now a rather spectacular cherry red is just salt in the wound.

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Ladies and gentlechickens, I give you…Big Blue leRoo. If all continues on its current course, Big Blue leRoo will be my Marans rooster. He hatched first, easiest, healthiest, strongest, and biggest. (Wendy, he might well be #37.) I’d be a fool not to use him as the foundation of my breeding program, modest as it is.

Recall that I am naming the Marans after Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters, and the Ameraucanas after Angel characters…my Marans rooster will be named Spike. As I try not to tempt fate whenever possible, he remains Big Blue leRoo for the foreseeable future. How ’bout them wattles, huh? Here he is, at left, with Blue Roo Two:

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Not hard to see who the alpha is, is it? Big Blue leRoo has already begun to peck at me when I clean the brooder, and, thanks to the invaluable guidance of Justine at Les Farms, I know now to ping him when he does so, and force him to recognise my physical superiority. I am the alpha.

That said, Blue Roo Two will be kept as my backup until the fall, at which time, if all goes according to plan (ha!) he will make a fine Marans rooster in someone else’s flock.

Then there are the blue girls, which is to say, what I hope are the blue girls:

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A dramatic difference in combs and wattles, you’ll agree. Although there is likely a slight age difference, it can’t be more than one day, so I don’t think it’s a factor at this point. I will need a blue rooster and blue hens if I’m ever to breed the elusive splash.

Then there are my two blacks. Both of these chicks required help hatching. Medium Black was born 25 days ago, and Scrappy 24. Medium Black may have needed help getting from the shell, but was completely independent thereafter, and never required my help again. That said, she is significantly smaller than the blues.

Scrappy, as you’ll recall, was very high maintenance. She pipped when I had given up hope of any other hatchings, and needed quite a bit of my help, including an after-hatch bath and and elaborate leg bracing to correct weak toes and an inturned left ankle:

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Here they are today:

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They were the wiggliest of the bunch and this shot is the most in focus of all the shots I took. Scrappy, at left, may be tiny, but she is undaunted. She was the only one of the nine who tried to fly off the 3.5 foot roost on which they were perched. As you can see, she is still behind developmentally, but is now making progress.

I believe both of these blacks to be girls, and await the thoughts of more learned chickeneers.

Which brings us to the Lavender Ameraucana trio. I think I lucked out and got a proper breeding trio, one rooster and two hens. I base this conclusion not on combs and wattles, but on the rate of feathering, as I’m told this is a reliable method of sexing in Ameraucanas. From the outset, two of the LAs feathered in quickly, and one slowly.

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Although the roolet, at center, is blurry in this shot, you can see how his feather development differs from that of the pullets on either side of him. He and the girl to the right were born on the first day, making them 26 days old; the pullet to the left is none other than Light Preemie, who has blossomed.

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Assuming I am right (and that’s always dangerous), I am going ahead and giving them their adult names. The roo will be Angel. The larger, more glamourous hen, at right, will be Cordelia, and the perky, come-up-from-behind hen will be Fred. Yes, Fred. Innit she sweet? In the shot above, you can also get a good look at Cordelia’s beard coming in.

So, there you have it: the kids of C3.0, on Day 26. Coming later this week, the babies of T1.0, and the embryos of C3.1.

It IS easy, however, being blue.

Hatching the Marans was my first foray into the genetics of blue colouration, but not my last. Ten of my fifteen heritage turkeys are to be in the blue spectrum, and one dozen of the hatching eggs I’m expecting are for Blue/Black/Splash (or BBS, as it’s known) Orpingtons. It’s turning out to be my thing.

There are differences between the genetic laws of blue colouration in chickens and in turkeys, and I’m learning those as I go (as I do), but there are also similarities.

Here’s what I know from my very first hatch of a BBS chicken breed: it pays to be blue. Of the twelve Marans that hatched, eight were blue, three were black, and only one was splash. Two black chicks and the splash chick needed help hatching. None of the blue chicks needed any help at all.

Of the four blue chicks of C3.0, all are healthy, active and growing, two of them prodigiously so. Big Blue is just so…big. And it’s not just her size. She is feathering out at a fantastic rate. She is also fearless; she was the first to jump onto my knee, and the first to fly up to the (rather high) roost I placed in the coop brooder.

The first black chick I helped is the only chicks of the five I helped who has required no further assistance, and is doing just great. S/he is, however, considerably smaller than his/her blue siblings. The difference is remarkable.

I look forward to observing the poults. I won’t have any blacks, but I will have slates (the turkey equivalent of blue) and self blue (the turkey equivalent of splash). Just to make things interesting, there is a divide amongst breeders of Blue Slate turkeys: some refer to the colours as Black, Blue and Lavender; others refer to them as Black, Slate, and Self-Blue.

As my foundation stock is coming from Kevin Porter, I will be using his terminology: Black, Slate, and Self Blue. You can read about Kevin’s thoughts on blue colouration in turkeys here.

When the Orps eggs arrive, it will be back to the drawing board again. I’ll need to study this. I never was very good at science.

The upside? Both the Orp eggs and the Rock eggs will be light, and easy to candle!!

This is different.

I think I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that I need to cull Splash. I wanted a Splash rooster so badly when all this began, but I can no longer ignore his problems, or his distress.

He’s thirteen days old, and still can’t poop properly. His feather development is way behind, but that might just be boyness. His bum is distended and hangs lower than the other chicks. There is a semi-hard disc in the bottom of the other chicks’ bums (yes, I’ve felt for them); this appears to be normal. Splash’s is way off to the left, and seems not to be normalising.

He spends most of his time under the Brinsea, blinking and breathing heavily.

So…what happened?

Splash was the first of five chicks I helped out of the shell. Three are thriving, one died (from smothering, I suspect), and then there’s Splash. It seems to me one of the following happened:

  • he has a genetic defect
  • he has no genetic defect, but was harmed either struggling to get out of the shell or by being helped out of it
  • he was fine when he was born, and his case of severe pasty butt is to blame

I feel responsible, of course, because…have you met me?! But, what to do now? Do I:

  • continue to intervene as I have been
  • leave him be and let Nature have her way
  • cull him

I don’t want him to suffer, but I don’t want to kill a chick that might grow to be a perfectly healthy animal. But can I ever breed from him?

The last chick I culled was my first, and it was a brutal experience. But I knew it had to be done, that there was no road to recovery.

This is different.

It’s time to play “Hen..or..ROO??!!”

It’s that game we all like to play, folks, and even though we can’t win until 3-6 weeks of age, we still like to play.

Is it the thickness of the legs? Is it the speed of the feathering? Is it the comb development? Everyone has his own ideas. I’ve been watching 3.0 closely and can’t resist making predictions any longer. I just did a comb/wing photo session, so you can play along at home!

We have to compare apples to apples here, so I’ll do the Marans first. We have four Blue Copper Marans, two Black, and one Splash. Here are the Blues:

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Now, does one of those stick out for you? I thought so. How ’bout that last one, huh? Only 10-11 days old, and I think we can call that one as a boy. The first one is Big Blue. Although the comb is pretty big, so is s/he. It’s not nearly as orange or as…juicy…as this last one, though. The second and third look like pullets to my inexperienced eye. I’m committing myself here, now, so I can see just how wrong I was in a few weeks.

Now, the two blacks. Both were helped from the shell, but the first immediately thrived, and LBCM needed a lot of help, both in terms of legs and digestive system.

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We seem to be out of the woods, I’m pleased to say, but this chick is tiny and underdeveloped. They both look like pullets to me, but what do I know?!

And then there’s Splash, who I really, really want to be a roo. He’s had such a hard time these first 10 days of his life, and his feather development is behind many of theĀ  others. The comb says “hen”, but the wings say “roo”:

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I’m hoping he’s a late bloomer. I’d LOVE a Splash rooster.

If I am right (and I find that highly unlikely), I ended up with an unusually high percentage of hens. Which is great. But I would like some rooster options…

Then there are the Lavender Ameraucanas. I have three, two of which hatched on their own on Day One. They are both 11 days old, and yet very different in terms of their feather development. I think I can draw a few safe conclusions. I’ve been calling them Luigi and Luisa as their temporary names; here are Luisa’s wing feathers, followed by Luigi’s:

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And here is an overhead shot of the two of them:

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I’m sure I don’t need to say which is which. Luigi, top, is smaller, with less feather development and only a tiny puff of a tail compared to Luisa. Luisa is also getting her epaulets.

But what of Light Preemie/Zippy, I hear you ask? S/he declined to pose for pics. It’s a miracle I got the pics I did, frankly. At this age, these babies are a blur most of the time. If I had to guess, I’d call Zippy female, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

So…there you have it. Do you agree with my guesses? Do you think I’m silly to even try? Let’s hear it!

Everything comes down to poo.

(If you don’t get the title of this post, and you’re twelve at heart, you really owe it to yourself to spend two and half minutes watching this.)

Doctor Chickeneer is still on two cases, gentle reader; red alert has not yet been canceled. The two patients are Little Black Copper Marans, the last of the preemies, and Splash, the first of the preemies.

LBCM is doing well, or was. His ankle braces are off, and his feet seem to have straightened out. I gave his little bum a bath this morning, though, and he has seemed rough ever since. That’s me: always overdoing things. He is resting under the Brinsea on a folded facecloth, panting. Fingers crossed I haven’t committed a mortal crime.

(NOTE: I am sick of playing the gender pronoun game. Can we please just all agree that I know absolutely nothing about the genders of 3.0, and I will assign them each one as I write, simply as a matter of convenience for both you and me? Thank you.)

Splash is a much more complex story. It comes to this: Splash had a very nasty butt. It was swollen and goopy and stinky and discoloured. Things were bad. I could show you pictures, but I won’t. You’re welcome.

I was even advised by A Very Wise Hatcher to cull, and maybe I should have, but he was walking and peeping and eating, and I couldn’t see doing it just yet.

Yesterday, I was giving him his thrice daily butt bath, when I was inspired to press gently on his distended abdomen, between the vent and the umbilicus. WELL. Imagine my shock and surprise when about three days’ worth of poo came out, the first solid thing I’d seen to exit Splash’s vent. I just kept going until there wasn’t anything left. He had a very difficult time regaining his balance when I put him back in the brooder, no doubt because he’d been compensating for three days.

Grossed out yet? Don’t be.

This is good news. Splash had a nasty case of pasty butt very early on, and I bathed and removed the hardened obstruction, feeling I had returned his digestive process to normal. I had not. It seems that he was pasted inside, as well. All that had been able to exit his body was a caustic liquid, reddening his tiny hiney. The releasing of all that solid waste, and the opening of the passage, was either the beginning of the end, or the beginning of the beginning. Nothing to do but wait.

Splash is still with us today, and considerably perkier. He is grooming, eating, drinking, and getting out from under the Brinsea much more. He had another warm butt bath this morning, and I expelled a bit more poo. It is vital he poop on his own, yes, but I felt it was even more important that the overstretched “bowel” be allowed to return to its normal size.

And, five minutes ago…he pooped. On his own. It was small, and he had to work for it, but he did it.

I’m so proud.

Babies in da hizzle!

I just learned why people take photos of chicks when they are only one day old: they are much ore compliant and less zoomie then.

I just did a little photo shoot of 3.0 to introduce them. They don’t have names yet, of course, as I don’t even know their genders. Some of them will be familiar to you, if you’ve been following the Facebook Page.

First, The Cute Kids…the Lavender Ameraucanas:

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The chicks to the left and right were born on Day One (check out the primary feathers coming in on the wing of the chick in the background). They are still much smaller than their Marans counterparts, but they are the largest of the Ameraucanas. That little cutie in the middle is Zippy, The Artist Formerly Known As Light Preemie. Unlike his ICU-mate, Zippy is thriving and keeping up with the big kids.

Next, The Big Kids…the Blue Copper Marans:

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Blue genetics being what they are, any clutch of eggs hatched will be approximately half blue, one quarter black, and one quarter splash. I have four Blue Copper Marans chicks, all capable of producing all three colours. The chick to the right was born Day One, and, no, that’s not just foreshortening. We don’t call her Big Blue for nothing…

Now, The Small Kids…the Black Copper Marans:

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Both of these chicks needed help being born. The larger chick to the right was helped out of the shell just after Splash was, and never needed any help after that. The one to the left should be instantly recognisable by the snazzy bracelet…that’s Little Black Copper Marans, the littlest Marans, who has needed all kinds of orthopaedic help. I was very concerned about this chick, protecting from the big kids, making sure s/he drank enough water…

Well, this morning, I watched as s/he drank independently for the first time, and heaved a huge sigh of relief. This chick is mouthy and isn’t taking any crap.

And, lastly…The Lone Chick…the Splash Copper Marans:

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Splash was the first chick I helped from the shell, and the only Splash of the hatch. I so want this chick to be a rooster, but, first, I want this chick to survive. I wouldn’t get o attached to Splash just yet, as s/he is exhibiting some pretty major digestive issues, and I won’t relax until I see improvement. Poop is all.

So, there you have them, the chicks of 3.0.

And then, there were seventeen. Again.