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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Story of Rico, Our Black Copper Maran

Finding complete posts showing chickens of a certain breed from start to laying is a challenge. I use the Google image search quite a bit, but even that is limited to what is out there. So, I have just a few breeds that I can use, but I thought it might be nice to do a post, for each breed and gender of chicken I have, for everyone to see what mine looked like at each phase in life. I chose to start with one of my ladies that I am waiting to start laying right now and I'll update the post when she finally steps up.

Rico is a Maran I hatched myself. The eggs were purchased locally from someone who has both Blue and Black Copper Marans that intermingle, so we can't be positive if they are a mix of the two (although still completely a maran) or not. Now that she is 20 weeks old, I am convinced she is a Black Copper Maran. She has never shown any signs of blue coloring and the egg she hatched from was fairly dark. Take a look for yourself and feel free to let me know what you think!

Rico hatched in my DIY hatcher (a 10 gallon aquarium with bubble wrap and a homemade lid) on March 10th while my livestream was down and I wasn't home. So, I didn't get the privilege of seeing her emerge. I did see the original pip and it took 26 hours after for her to go ahead and make her way into the world. 

She was also the only baby to hatch from those eggs. I am apparently not excellent at hatching and it's been a challenge for me to figure out. Luckily, I got one hen from these Maran eggs, however. The woman who I bought the eggs from also gave me more to try and none of those worked for me either. I plan to try again in the Spring and see how things go. Anyway, until then, at least I have Rico. 
Because she was alone for a few days, my husband and I made a point to hold and interact with her as much as possible. We had a few chicks that were a couple of weeks older and wanted to make sure she was ready to handle them before we introduced her. 

The first evening, after she was out of the hatcher, we took her into our room to let her find warmth snuggling with us. She was still a little wobbly, but moved around pretty well and found a favorite place in my husbands hair, tucked behind his ear. We cracked up at how much she looks like a penguin, so James named her Rico, after thePenguins of Madagascar. It was a good move, she has become hilariously skittish as she's gotten older. She actually hides behind bushes and runs between them, then hides, then runs again. It's hysterical.

After a few days, we started introducing her to the other chicks and observing to see how everyone would do. It turned out that it was no issue at all. They all accepted Rico just fine and she thought they were pretty cool. 

Two weeks to the day after Rico hatched, I hatched my first ever grocery store egg in an experiment.Marsha is a Ameraucana/Brahma mix and we decided to go ahead and put the older chicks outside and let Rico and Marsha hang out together in the brooder. We did not realize at that time the friendship we were creating, they are still inseparable almost 5 months later. 

On day 15 for Rico, I decided to take several pictures to see what changes were happening and take a guess as to gender. I took a stab at feather-sexing and was so wrong. We believed for a long time that Rico was a little roo, but she's definitely not. The first time I saw her squat I was like, waaaiiiittt a minute.

She was fairly slow to feather and had a regular stance that was very tall and proud looking.  Her feathers also formed the L shape that some cockerels do. I say some, because I have been right most of the time with feather-sexing, but not as often as I would like. 

She is not a show quality French Black Copper Maran, as her legs are not as feathered as they should be. However, she has one little feather on each foot (and still does) and I find it endearing.
At three weeks, she and Marsha were living together comfortably in the brooder and Rico was really starting to show some growth. She still looked like a penguin and the feathers on each foot were more predominant.

At four weeks and two days old her feathering was really starting to show and she looked more like a little cockerel than ever. The back of her neck reminded me of a Barred Rock roo I had sold as a little one. It looked like Rod Stewart. 

As you can see in the pix, she had the funny little teenager bald spots. She was adorable and I felt it was time to start letting them play outside a little. 

A month to the day after Rico hatched, I took her and Marsha outside to check out the yard for a little while. They stuck together closely, but managed to wander a little bit before I took them back to their brooder.

Rico and Marsha were moved outside on April 16th and enjoyed a dust bath outside for the first time that day.

 The following two pictures were taken on May 2nd, only a little over 2 weeks after the dust bath video, she's 7 1/2 weeks old. It's amazing how much she has changed! Her feathers are in, but she still has a little bit of white at this point. This was also the time I started to suspect she was a lady instead of a boy.

Rico became harder and harder to take pictures of. This was her and Marsha's sneaking around the yard time. I managed to take this one of her on May 11th (two months old) in the dust bathing area,even though Marsha was protecting her. She is just starting to get the brown on her neck.

On June 12th, she is 3 months and 2 days old, and the only way I could get close to her was through the fencing. 

Rico is just now starting to calm down a little and mingle with the other hens. She and Marsha are still thick as thieves, but at least she will let me venture near her and take pictures now. She is really a beautiful hen and her comb is coming in nicely. She's a little over 20 weeks old here and I've seen her squat once. This is my favorite picture of her. She almost looks like she's smiling. 

Rico gave us her first egg on August 12, 2016! The 1st picture below is a picture I took the day I collected her first egg. I was so proud of her! It's the beautiful dark brown egg, 2nd from the left.

The picture below was taken a couple of days later, when Rico gave us her second egg. It was a little darker and a little larger. On the right, the darker, spotter egg is her 1st and the dark brown egg on the left is her second.

Go Rico!

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