A fall hatch living in Northern Michigan is less than ideal. Chicks already have a tough road ahead of them when born in the spring, but when you hatch eggs in the fall that means you have spring chickens. Learn about the difficulties I had, and what I would do differently. To learn about difficulties others have had in a winter hatch visit this thread on Backyard Chickens.
Last fall we lost our favorite rooster – Edgar. He was a cool rooster, a fine, friendly, feathered fella who did is job nicely. Both in the fertilization and protection aspects of keeping his flock.
Unfortunately, Edgar lost a battle with a fox but he left his find ladies with a clutch of eggs to hatch out.
We hatched these eggs in October. Not the prime time to send chicks out into the coop, but if we wanted to try for an Edgar 2.0 we had to give it a try.
On October 15th we hatched out 10 chicks. By the time they were 2 weeks old they were too big, and too messy to stay in the house. We knew they were really too small to be outside, but we really had no other options. We walled off part of the coop, added a heat lamp and crossed or fingers.
Unfortunately, some of these little buggers decided to follow the big chickens outdoors. As much as we tried, we could not keep them in the coop and we lost a few to the cold, wet weather. We would come home and find the babies had gone outside while we were away at work and come home to find them under the coop. Some we could save, most we could not.
Our hope (okay, my hope because the rest of my family are no where near enthralled with the chickens as I am) was to have an Edgar 2.0. Unfortunately, in beta testing (i.e. one of those wet, cold days), Edgar 2.0 suffered a fatal operating error and was not relivable.
This morning I heard an unfamiliar sound from the coop. We had a crower! After spending some time to find who was breaking into song at the crack of dawn we discovered this handsome fella doing his duty with some of the older hens.
Because we lost Edgar 2.0 and I liked the name Edgar for a rooster I took a look at his red feathers and knew what we had to call him – Redgar! (Like Edgar, but with the word red.) With Redgar crowing that can only mean that the girls (his sisters tails can be seen in the foreground) should be laying eggs by time the snow really melts. Yep, spring chickens! Right now we have about 3 feet of snow in the yard, but it is disappearing FAST. Soon it will be melted and the bugs will be out and about. Perfect food for a laying hen.
Would I recommend hatching out a clutch of eggs in mid-October if you live in Northern Michigan? No, but if circumstances presented themselves again so we had no choice I would not hesitate to do it again. I would just make sure the little buggers couldn’t get outdoors AT ALL until spring. But, the four that made it should be good and hardy birds.