Saturday, April 18, 2015

Uno: The Lone Survivor

Throughout the poultry reproductive unit in Animal Bioscience, the students continuously reminded me of all the fun we could have if we had some little chicks in the classroom.  Finally, after days of requesting and hinting at the fact that they wanted some chickens, I gave in to the idea and broke out the incubator.  Ok, that's kind of a lie.... I was the one who had to convince the students that it would be fun but that's only because they didn't know what they had been missing...

I came in the next Monday with 3 dozen fertilized eggs from my aunt's farm (thanks again, Aunt Libby!) ready to put in the incubator.  With any luck, we would soon have 35 little chicks in 21 days! Notice how we were an egg short of 3 dozen... That's why high schoolers don't work in a professional hatchery... Because eggs are breakable...

As the 21 days went by, my students were becoming more and more interested in the hatching process.  One of the students, Austin, became like my second hand man in the process.  Austin came down each day, twice per day, always checking the incubator.  Each day, two different students were on what we called "chick duty" for the day to monitor the incubator and collect all of the appropriate data.  All seemed to be going well.
Poor Uno a few hours after hatching 

I, along with Austin, candled the eggs and determined that there were 12 or so eggs that we were sure had taken.  Not great, but we could live with a 50% hatch rate.

When day 21 came, we looked for any signs of pipping, or little beaks poking through the shell.  But there was only one.  Only one little guy that had started to hatch and, as it turns out, he would be our only one.

We watched the chick hatch for about a day until we noticed that something wasn't quite right.  It seemed as though he had gotten stuck and was no longer making an progress.  So at this point, it was either help him hatch, which is rarely in the chicks best interest, or he wasn't going to make it.

So throughout the rest of the day, I spent a lot of time at the incubator, moistening the chick down to try to continue breaking some of the shell away.  Finally, enough had been removed that the chick was able to break free. Being that he was the only one of 35 eggs to make it, we named him Uno.

Uno had a rough start to life and the trouble hatching was only the beginning.  His feathers didn't look quite right, his left wing is smaller than the right wing, and his legs didn't work well either.  Thinking that Uno wasn't going to make it, I purchased a few more chicks from our local Ag store so that way the student could still continue on with the project.

However, apparently friends were all Uno needed!  After being in with the other chicks for a few days, Uno has made great improvement.  His legs are working great, is feathers are fluffing out, and he is eating and drinking like a champ!

So I believe we can all learn a little something from Uno.  Despite a rough go in life, you can always count on your friends to pick you up when your down!
Uno is the little guy on the left.  Looking much better!

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