Here are the first eggs from my Silver Ameraucana pullets hatched 4/22/19. The birds were 21 weeks old when they began laying. Because there is a variation in the shell color between the eggs, I believe they were laid by two different birds.
Seeing these eggs in September is very exciting for me. The silver color of Ameraucana chickens is notoriously slow to develop. Last year the baby hens didn’t start laying until December. They were 8 months old. That is a long time to wait for new eggs, especially when you are paying to put the lights on in the coop at 4 am every day. Hens need at least 12 hours of light to lay. Here in Maine we get a lot less than that during the cold months.
Here are photos of some of the young hens. I suspected the pullets might lay earlier than their mothers because their little brothers matured earlier than my past generations of Silvers. Some baby cockerels started crowing at 3 months, well ahead of schedule. When I found these eggs yesterday I was over the moon. Finally, hens that start laying when they are supposed to. Yay!
The third and final hatch for 2019 of Silver and Silver x Black Ameraucana chicks has completed. This time we had a 100% hatch rate, 26 babies. I’m very pleased with this batch, lots of nice silver type birds. The little ones are now two days old. They all seem strong and healthy, running around, eating and drinking well. In about five days these guys will join their bigger siblings in the chick coop and all the chickens will be out of the house.
The second clutch of silver and silver x black Ameraucana chicks hatched on 5/16 with the same results as the first hatch: 24 babies. The ones with the dark chipmunk stripes are pure for the silver color. The rest have black color genes mixed in. I’m working toward breeding the black out. I’m quite pleased with this year’s babies so far. The hatch rate is good, the chicks are vigorous and there are many pure silvers. Finian the kitten is very interested in what’s in the brooding box!
The first hatch is now about 3.5 weeks old. They are enjoying the new-found liberty of an outdoor run. After days and days of rain, the sun finally came out and the chicks have been going out in the run during the day. They are busy, curious animals. But, they still run for the cover of their house if a large creature like a human, horse or dog comes close. Before long I will allow them to free-range during the day. They will learn to return to their house every evening, a big lesson for little chickens.
The newest baby chickens have arrived at Phoenix Farm! They hatched out on 4/21-22, the first for 2019. There are twenty-four babies, most are silver standard Ameraucana, some are silver crossed with black Ameraucana. The pure silver ones look like chipmunks with the stripes running down their backs.
The new incubator is doing a great job. The hatch rate for this first batch was 96%. Only one egg didn’t open. The babies are very calm, quiet and curious. They watch everything with serious, studious expressions on their fluffy faces. Even being stared at by a four-year-old and two large kittens didn’t fluster these chicks. They are mellow, taking everything in stride. I credit the new incubator for the birds’ temperament. A stress-free beginning in a comfortable environment creates laid back chickens. The investment in a Brinsea incubator was well worthwhile.
Just wanted to share the beautiful eggs my Ameraucana pullets are producing. They started laying in late December and average four to eight eggs per day. We have twenty hens. Only the oldest are laying right now. More will come online by the end of this month and by the end of March they all should be laying. That will be just in time to start collecting eggs for setting.
I’m really liking some of the egg color. My ideal is a robin’s egg blue. I raise Silver Ameraucana, a variety that has had a lot of trouble with egg color. The shade is often too pale and too green. I have my fingers crossed that a good number of the younger pullets will lay nice color. I’d like to have as many hens as possible for breeding. So far there are four or five of the oldest pullets producing good blue color.
Personally, I like the variety of shades represented above. They look lovely as Easter eggs, no dyeing required! My customers who buy eating eggs really enjoy the brightly colored eggs, as do my young granddaughters. They are fun for everyone!
Moonstone, the new angora rabbit doe I acquired last month, gave birth on 10/13 to a litter of three babies. They are healthy, well fed little guys. Mama bunny made a nice warm nest for her fawns with hay and fiber she pulled from her tummy. I supplemented the nest with fiber from a supply I keep just for the purpose.
Here is mama bunny Moonstone, shortly after she arrived at the farm. And below is a shot of the proud father, Marble, my albino angora buck. I’m not sure why this litter is so small. Rabbits usually have 5-9 babies at a time. The doe was maiden and not too thrilled by the mating process. The pair only mated a few times that I observed, so perhaps that’s why she had only a few fawns. I’m very happy with what I got! At least one of the babies is showing signs of developing darker hair than white, so fingers crossed I get a nice sable or chocolate doe to keep.
Proud daddy Marble
In other news, the September hatch of Ameraucana chicks is now four weeks old. The chicks are well feathered. The oldest chicks (one day ahead of the youngest) are starting to sprout feathers on their heads. These babies are very active. They spend the day alternating between filling up at their feeder and running off to free range in the hedges and over the lawns. I think they will be well ready to face the cold weather once winter arrives. To date we have had less than ten frosty nights. The temperature has not gone below about 30F. The days and nights continue unseasonably mild. That’s fine with me and my barn full of babies!
Here are some of the first eggs laid by my silver splash Ameraucana pullets from the Jan hatch. The baby eggs are always the best color. Some of the eggs look big, but this is just a trick of the camera. They are all small to medium grade sized eggs.
I knew the young hens were ready to lay and have been trying to keep them in the pen during the morning to encourage laying in the nest boxes. So far they have deposited 4 or 5 on the floor. For the past few days I’ve been placing hens in nest boxes to show them where to lay. One hen in particular has found a way to escape the pen. She is always hanging around waiting to be let back in when I go out to do morning chores. Today I started to get suspicious about her early morning activities.
Sure enough, after a long search through the hedges and bushes, I found her stolen nest. There were about two dozen baby eggs deposited there. I suspect she and her sisters have been using the nest. So today I will put a new net over the chicken pen to stop the birds from flying out and hiding their eggs. The pullet in the front of the photo below is the main culprit. Such naughty little birds!