Thought I would give you a brief update with our chicken hatching project. I've been saving eggs now for a couple of days.
|Dating the eggs with a pencil|
Today I got out my incubator and egg turner. I want to make sure the equipment works okay. So that's where we are right now.
|We have a variety of thermometers we have collected along the way.|
Saturday morning I will start the eggs in the incubator for their 21 day hatch cycle. But, you have to do prep work ahead of time. A quick review here. My plan is to gather eggs for five days before starting the incubator. I started yesterday on the 11th. I will gather eggs the 12th, 13th and 14th, which is Tuesday through Friday. I know earlier I said five days, but in this case I have a friend that is also saving eggs, so I should have more than enough. Come Saturday morning, I will choose the newest and best looking eggs for the incubator. So, what do I do with the old eggs I don't use? I cook them up for my dog and cats.
At this stage, my incubator thermostat is not cooperating. I've done everything like I'm supposed to do, which is, fill up the water troughs. By the way it's real hard to see water in those little troughs. So I mark the bottom of mine with a magic marker so I can at least know where the trough is.
Along the way I will show you pictures of what I am talking about, because when you have the turner and it's filled with eggs, depending on what brand of incubator you have, it can be a little difficult to get the water in the trough. I also set my incubator on something I can afford to get a little wet in case I spill some water and it drains out of the holes in the bottom of the incubator. Food for thought.
Then put the automatic turner in the incubator, because it's motor produces heat.....But I can't get the temperature down below 109 degrees. I've unplugged it and restarted it, and it's still running way too hot. I'll do some checking and tinkering, but if this continues, I will replace the incubator with my other back up incubator. So, we'll see how that works out.
But right now, I'm saving eggs and I've turned them half a dozen times today. Which in this case means I have tilted up one end or the other of an egg carton. This is a highly technical procedure, and only those highly trained and certified should use this technique. By the way, I have been sick for a while, and I can tell I'm feeling better, because my humor is returning.
Okay, back to chicken stuff. I'm starting this incubator Saturday, February 15th. 21 days later, March 8th, or actually March 7th, which is a Friday and a Saturday, the baby chicks will hatch. These days are the same days that the baby chickens I ordered from a hatchery will also be hatched. And the baby chickens, or as I will call them, day old chicks, will arrive at the post office about Monday, March 10th. This way, the store bought babies and the homegrown babies will be the same age.
The friend I mentioned earlier that I'm also getting eggs from, she has my last generation hens, which is a mixture of Barred Rock, Buff Orpington, Partridge Rock, Speckled Sussex and maybe some that slipped my memory right now. But most of them were Barred Rock. Those are the hens. The rooster she has is an Easter Egg or Araucanas, a beautiful red rooster.
All of my eggs are from Easter Egg hens with one rooster. And with the introduction of the store bought chicks which are Black Australorps, this should offer a very interesting blend of chickens. So that's how we're going to do it this time. After I hatch these birds, they will be my replacement birds for the ones I have now. Shortly after my birds hatch, I will start another batch of my friend's eggs and mine for her to use as she sees fit.
So, with this hatch and the store bought ones, we are probably going to have 50 to 60 day old chicks. That will give me about 25 hens and 25 roosters. I'll keep about 20 hens and one rooster which leaves me with 24 roosters that I can put in the freezer or can. We have just started canning meat the last year or two, and I find tremendous satisfaction eating high quality meat, and knowing where it came from and what it was fed.
So, along the way, I'll keep you up to date with what I do with the incubator, which isn't a whole lot, but it's very important. It's important to keep the temperature correct and the humidity adequate. And along the way I will start preparing a home for my new day old chicks, which is a separate experience in itself. If you have any questions, let me know. Chickens are easy to raise, easy to butcher, great eating, they're my favorite livestock. Most people agree that they taste better than armadillo.
We'll talk more later. Frank
P.S. Keep the box that your incubator came in. And when you're finished, clean up your incubator and put it back in the same box. Now listen here very closely. Read the instructions that came with the incubator, and then read them again. And when you box up your incubator at the end of incubating season, put your instructions back in the same box. This is important. Keep the box. Read the instructions. Keep the instructions. Then next year, do the same thing again.