Sunday, January 22, 2012

Incubating and other chicken news

 Tonight I finally candled the 10 eggs I have in the incubator. Half of them are clear, they probably weren't fertile. Another 2 are iffy, there is development, but I didn't see a heartbeat. The other 3 look really good, I can see blood flowing through the little vessels around the developing embryo.
 I have to admit, I was hoping for a better hatch that 3 or 5. I decided to add a dozen more in a separate tray to hatch 8 days after these ones. I dated each of the new eggs so that I don't get them mixed up with the old eggs.
 Now chicken people all know that the eggs need to go on "lockdown" on day 18. Non chicken people have no idea what this means. I will explain. Because I "dry" incubate I keep the humidity around 30% during the first 18 days (I basically don't add any water at all, the eggs lose enough moisture to keep it at this level) and turn the eggs every 8 hours, then, on day 18 I add water in a shallow dish to bring the humidity up to 70%. Then I shut the door and leave them alone until they hatch.
 So, what, you may ask, happens when you have a staggered hatch? How can you lock the eggs down if you have to turn the other eggs? Will terrible things happen? No, it works just fine. I bring the humidity up to 70% and stop turning the hatching eggs on day 18 but I do open the incubator to turn the others. I quickly open the door, grab the tray, close the door, turn the eggs (and candle if I need to) then open the door, put the eggs back and close the door. The door isn't open for longer than 30 seconds each time. Because my incubator is so small the humidity comes back up within just a couple of minutes and everything is fine.
 Once the chicks have hatched I move them into the brooder and remove the water dish to bring the humidity back down until the next bunch are ready to go on lockdown.
 Now, for other chicken news. my buffs are starting to lay well. As soon as we hit the winter solstice and the days started getting longer they started laying. I'm up to 6 or 7 eggs most days. The Easter Eggers are starting to molt and are producing a lot less. Since they've been laying for 18 months straight I will cut them a little slack. They need a break.
 I did a head count (beak count?) today while I was out in the run and we are down to 16 hens and Moonshine the rooster. I do have 4 young chickens (about 12 weeks) out there but one is a young roo who is going to be dinner as soon as he's big enough to make a good meal. I'd like to build my flock up to about 50 by the end of the summer, maybe more if we can scrape together enough cash to order some new chicks.
 The laundry calls so I will say good night and Blessed Be


  1. He "poofed" one night. Not even a feather left of him. Sometimes they sleep on the roof so it might have been an owl... or the idiot dog got him.