A week after hatching I still have fourteen healthy chicks in the brooder. You can see in the picture that they are beginning to get their feathers. Now that the drama of hatching and moving from the incubator to the brooder is over, the next big question is: what do I actually have?
The most obvious distinction to make between the fourteen chicks is which are female? The answer is that I have no idea. A little web research on the subject of sexing chickens quickly convinced me that the best method to determine the answer to that question is to wait a couple more weeks before I start guessing. Larger combs and big feet would be signs of a rooster. My guess, though, is that the one in the middle, the only pure white one, is a rooster taking after his prodigious father who we did actually name Foghorn Leghorn.
That does bring me to my more complex question. The father of all these chicks is a White Leghorn. We have four New Hampshire hens that are about three years old now. The remaining seven hens are Delaware. So what are these chicks? They look more like Delaware than New Hampshire to me. That could be because my New Hampshire hens have gotten old. Maybe all the eggs I put in the incubator were laid by Delawares. Or maybe I am as wrong about identifying them as I was when I candled them in the incubator and thought about half of them weren’t going to hatch…
Will they be good layers? I have to admit I am still a chicken breeding virgin, and it seems like the more I learn about chicken breeding the less I understand. Three things are certain. They eat and drink and sh*t.