Hello BYC, I have just conducted an experiment and wanted to share my thoughts and results in order to see what me fellow cluckateers make of it. I have been doing lots of reading as fall ended and winter set in about animals adaption to survive their changing environment. I have seen some of the safe guards mother nature has in the ways of protecting her own many times through the years as I am the daughter of a farmer. I was curious what would happen if one was to hatch chicks in the dead of winter. If one was successful, then theoretically the chicks that survived might have a slight advantage over those commonly raised in spring when it comes to coping with the cold. I realize that this may sound odd (I do get a little stir crazy waiting for spring), but my actions against the common sense status quo was also influenced by the fact that my current hens have finally stopped laying all together sue to their old age. I miss my fresh eggs and dislike just getting some from my parents flock, which the new hens have recently have started to lay like crazy. My thinking was that if I could somehow hatch the chicks now, they would be that much closer to laying eggs come summer than waiting to hatch until spring. I got a dozen eggs from my parents flock as my start up. It is important to note that they have a mixed group of chickens, though most are red or black sex links. They have three roosters, though only two that actually do anything. The other was a mistake from Murray McMurray and is a little game bird thing that the hens have a fun time chasing around when he tries to do anything. the other is a gray silke and the last is a brown leghorn. I brooded my eggs in the incubator just as I would have in the spring or in the past. However this time only three eggs hatched. I wasn't expecting high yields by any means, but the thing that is odd is that all three chicks were silke crosses. That is to say that had the extra toe and the fuzzy feet. I am not sure what to make out of this. I am unsure if it was just my luck of the draw or this is one of mother natures safeguards in action. I can tell you that all the eggs were the same size (jumbo) and brown and were all turned the same way, but only the silkes hatched. They are happy and healthy, but so tiny I have to put them in a tote instead of my nice large brooder box. Not sure what to make of all this, but all the chicks are doing fine, despite the record cold snap we just went through. I do have them under a brooder lap, but with the cold they are living in a temp slightly lower than what chicks in the spring would have. What do you guys make of all this? I have pics of the little one below, but I couldn't get good ones of their feet.