We've been working towards this for a few years now, and finally hatched our first splash chicks here at the farm over the weekend. We set a few eggs from our young blue pen just to see what happened. 4 made lockdown, only two hatched, but both ended up being splash coppers.
Our young hens should be up to full production soon, so by mid-late December we will be able to start offering these chicks and eggs for sale. Our plan is to keep 8-10 splash pullets for ourselves and cross them to a black copper rooster from our black program, giving us the option of selling eggs that are guaranteed to hatch blue.
We are really looking forward to watching these first chicks grow, and will add new pictures to the website when they begin to feather out.
I’m often asked how I candle BCM eggs when the shells are often too dark to see much in the way of veining. I’m not an obsessive candler, I’ll usually candle around day 10 to see how many eggs are developing, then again at lockdown to remove any clears or quitters before I put the eggs in the hatcher. By day 10, even in the darker eggs, you can start to see a developing air sac and a shadow in the bottom of the egg where the embryo is beginning to develop. By day 18, this development is very obvious. Here is a picture of a fully developed chick just before lockdown.
Note the well formed air sac at the top of the egg, the darker area where the final veins are receding, and finally the black silhouette of the chick at the bottom of the egg. At day 10 the shadow isn’t as drastic, but it is there.
By contrast, here is an infertile egg
The picture is a little blurry, but you can see that there is obviously no development in this egg.
I use a Brinsea Ova-view candler, but there are several different candlers available online. I candle the eggs from the fat end down while they are still in the racks, discard the clears, then move the developed eggs to the hatchers.
There are high intensity candlers that will show more detail throughout incubation, but this method works well for me to separate the clears from the developing eggs
I was surprised to learn when I started selling chicks that the fall and winter are our busiest time of year. Chicks hatched in the fall and winter and grown out during the cooler months feather faster, are very vigorous, and will be laying by spring or early summer of the following year. We always have young hens ready to lay this time of year, so we will get eggs straight through the winter. Our egg production will slow down, for sure, but we will continue hatching to order and growing out on own chicks year round.
We are going into 2019 with the best birds we have ever had, with a gorgeous young rooster in Pen 1, our same leading man in Pen 2, and a new full blue pen that will produce blue, black, and splash chicks. I will post pictures of them on the website, soon, along with customer photos of some of our blues that they have grown out this year.
I'd like to thank all of our new customers who have joined us this year, especially those of you on the West Coast who trusted us to ship so far. I would have never thought that we would sell as many eggs and chicks in WA, OR, and CA as we have on the East Coast.
The incubator has been fired up again, black copper chicks will start hatching again on Oct. 13, and we hope to be hatching from the blue pen by December. Email to reserve yours soon
After a long winter, spring, and summer of setting every egg from our blue copper rooster we have finally grown out our selections and moved them to the main breeding pen. We have 9 beautiful dark blue girls and a cockerel that is showing some really nice coloring. We expect some beautiful chicks from this pen, and look forward to offering black, blue, and splash fertile eggs and chicks from this flock in early 2019. Stay tuned!
Well, after a long Winter, Spring, and Summer of hatching, brooding, and growing out every chick from our blue rooster, the selections have been made and our new flock has moved to the breeding pen. The pullets and rooster are all between 4 and 5 months old, so we hope to be hatching from this pen by the end of the year. That means that in 2019, for the first time ever, we will be able to offer Splash Copper Marans. For the short term all of our blues will come from this blue/blue breeding, but the long term goal is to produce a splash rooster that will be crossed to black hens from one of our other pens. That will give us one pen that produces 100% blue chicks.
We have chosen some of the darkest girls to give us the defined edging that we love to see in the blues. They are slowly starting to develop some copper in their hackles, but overall are trending a little darker
They are, however, beginning to grow into the large size of the black hens they came from
To bring some color back to the offspring we have chosen a young cockerel that is a little lighter blue, but is showing much better copper coloring in his hackles and saddle, and the deep red in his shoulders. He is also showing a little copper on his breast, so we think this young rooster is going to be an excellent match to these dark girls. This cockerel was one of the largest chicks, and even at this young age is showing the broad chest and wide shoulders that we love to see in our roosters. He’s going to be a big boy, and from early on has asserted himself as the head of the flock. He’s not aggressive towards us at all, but is very assertive with the girls. We expect much higher fertility rates from this fellow.
We can’t wait to see the black, blue, and splash chicks that this pen will provide for us, and our customers, in 2019
Our choices for next year’s replacement breeders have been made and are being moved to the main pens. Our Pen 1 threw some beautiful chicks this year, but that rooster was nearing 3 years old and was throwing some hens that were over melanized (too dark). Pen 2 has our best rooster from last year, and we kept our eye on his offspring to bring the replacement for Pen 1. This 4 month old cockerel stood out from the very beginning. One of the largest of the chicks, he also started developing his colors early. He has better color than the rooster he came from, is developing into a large bodied bird,and has just a little copper showing on his breast. Our hopes are that he will help improve the color in the hens produced from that pen. We hope to be hatching his chicks by Nov., and that will give us two beautiful roosters in each of our black-only pens. We also have a group of blues that will be moved to the main pen in August, and I will post pictures of those as soon as we get them moved
Our furthest shipment of live chicks arrived safely in Brentwood, CA today. All 16 sent were alive and healthy, sent across the country in just over 24 hours
Our customer was Kite Hawk Farms in Brentwood, a farm providing organic produce to local farmers markets, restaurants, and individuals just east of San Francisco. Lindsey and her team have done an impressive job transforming 5 acres into a working farm, and we are proud to be included in her efforts.
You can also follow Kite Hawk Farms on their FB page
We are proud to have had such success shipping fertile eggs and chicks to the West Coast this year. We love to see our line spreading out west, and look forward to many more shipments in the future
Back on May 3 I posted a video of our silkies with some black and blue copper Marans chicks they hatched for us. Here’s the happy family two months later.
If you’ve read the “about us” page on our website, you’ve seen that our entire chicken journey started with 4 feed store pullets. Every year I say “No more pens”, and every year I end up needing another pen. Apparently this year will be no exception...
We have been incubating every egg laid from our blue rooster over black hens, and with the low fertility rates in that pen we have been hatching 6-12 chicks every week. Some weeks have more blue, some weeks have more black, but over the last few months we have been able to hatch about 40 blue chicks. Some of the earlier hatches are beginning to outgrow the grow out pens, so it’s time to start planning for 2019.
Our current rooster will be replaced by the end of the summer, and the plan has been to replace that pen with a black rooster over blue girls, but these blues are so pretty that we are also going to do a full blue pen which will result in some splash chicks. The blue over black pen will give us the dark blues we love, but the full blue pen will give another option for those wanting to add some variety to their flock. Look for these birds and eggs to become available in late 2018, early 19. In the meantime, here are some of the birds we are growing out to choose from