The babes hatched out! We had all but three make it through the first week and now the clutch is growing fast.
The UV brooder is warm and inviting, offering and under level to hide out in and a top spot for getting a little space and enjoying the warmth on feet. There are a lot of different hybrid chicks in this group. All the roosters are pure bred Ayam Cemani so the male genes are the same. Still, the hens present their own genetic diversity. There seem to be a lot of Americana crosses, along with the Delawares. Two chicks are all black; it’s probable that those babes come from our one Ayam Cemani hen. Barde-rock also show a strong presence. We’ll see how they grow and develop. There should be roughly 6-7 hens and the same of roosters. I’ve talked about the 50-50 ratio in chicken sex before for those curious about my numbers.
Food and water for chicks is very important. I add about a table spoon of apple cider vinegar to the chicks’ water. This keeps them healthy and worm free. The starter food gives them the right mix of nutrition for growth. If I feed them my layer mix, they will gain weight too quickly and stress their young bones during development. One other additive to the birds’ diet is grit. I have a bag of granulated granite which I sprinkle into the chicks’ food. This grit is what the bird will keep in it’s crop for grinding seed for digestion. If you don’t give your chicks grit, they won’t be able to break down their grains and will become impacted, which can lead to death. In a pasture environment, the chicks scratch the ground to get their grit, but since these little guys are starting our on shavings in a tub, we have to introduce the gravel.
Within the next week or two, I’ll have to move these babes into a larger enclosure. I usually put up a cardboard pen in the corner of the garage. Eventually, the chicks will get too feisty for the cardboard and then I’ll use a wire mesh enclosure that’s about 5 feet tall. From there, the chicks will be moved in the wire mesh to the outside. There they can begin to acclimate to outdoor temperatures and weather. That’s a few months away. By late May, we’ll have these chicks on pasture in a portable coop. I hope that by the end of the summer, the laying hens will move in with the main flock while the roosters are culled or put in another movable coop for fattening up before fall.
Leafhopper Farm is also planning one more incubation round for pure Ayam Cemani chicks from our breeding pair. I’ll use the single hen and Big Comb, our resident large rooster who is caring for the other younger roos in a movable coop. He’ll be put in with the hen in their own private villa so I can isolate those pure bred egg to cultivate this rare breed.