Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hatching Ideas

We are starting another chapter in our chicken raising or I should say I am.   This whole idea was instigated by my dad and since I am really enjoying raising chickens I was game. Hubby is not really on board with this new adventure.
Hubby is in fact waiting for me to get over my chicken phase. This isn't happening any time soon especially now that I've decided to hatch some eggs to sell the chicks.  I guess he has reason to be nervous.  I think he is pretty convinced that we will hatch a bunch of chicks and end up keeping them all which would mean building another coop to house the all.  I am a little nervous about the whole scenario, but I am excited too.  My fears are more along the lines of what if we hatch all  roosters? Not likely but half could be.  
As you can imagine roosters aren't as popular as hens and therefore harder to get rid of.  They don't lay eggs, they are noisier and they can be mean and extremely aggressive. Some town ordinances don't even allow roosters.  We have been lucky that the two roosters we have are very  friendly. Kenzie can walk right over and pick them up.  They also get along with each other for the most part.  They might circle each other with their hackles raised but there really is no actual fighting.  I think this is largley do in part to the fact that Joel is very passive and is content in letting Captain Hook be in charge.

Since I have never hatched eggs or used an incubator before I have chosen to just try six eggs to get a feel for the whole procedure.
I pulled out all my chicken books and read the chapters on hatching eggs.
Then I read them again.
I scanned the internets absorbing all the info I could get on using a incubator to hatch chicks.  Then I realized maybe it would just be easier to have a hen go broody and do what nature intended. This was a good plan but unfortunately the mothering instinct has been almost entirely bred out of domestic poultry in favor of egg production and I might never have a hen that decides she wants to be a mommy. So back to the incubator with its less than helpful directions and back to doing a little more reading just to be sure I was doing everything the best I could.
 I got the incubator all set up with the humidity and temperatures at the correct levels-temperature 100.0 degrees and humidity 55%.
Next I picked six eggs.  I picked lighter brown ones so that they would be easier to candle since this would be my first experience. And I also made sure they weren't oddly shaped or overly large or small. Into the incubator they went, set small end down into the automatic egg turner.

In ten days I will be able to candle the eggs to look for signs of development.  Candling the eggs is kind of like a chicken ultra-sound.  In a darkened room you hold a candler or bright flashlight or lightbulb up to the eggs to look for signs the egg is fertilized and a chick is starting to form. A fertilized egg should show a dark spot(the embryo) with spidery veins around it.  With two roosters and 12 hens our chances of fertilized eggs are should be high.  If you do not candle the eggs and leave an egg in the incubator that isn't fertilized it will rot and quite possibly explode.  Cleaning up rotten egg is not something I want to deal with!  Not only would the smell be horrific it could endanger the other developing eggs.
I will be monitoring the temperature and the humidity in the incubator to make sure that it remains consistent and keep my fingers crossed that we have a succesful hatch. I'll be posting updates as we progress!

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