This past month I have played mother hen with 35 eggs and now I have 20 chicks chirping merrily. I bought an incubator to ramp up our production of making our own chooks. After spending $12 each on our last lot I was very unimpressed that four of them turned out to be roosters. For that price apparently they are sexed – I think not. We are talking $12 for day olds by the way not a few weeks old. Needless to say I wanted to try my hand at making more chicks that would not cost me a fortune each time I needed to add more girls to the flock.
Earlier in the year we experimented and let one of our hens take the eggs to hatch herself. It was successful she raised three chicks however she was off the lay for over nine weeks. That is a long time to stop producing eggs. I would normally not mind but I sell eggs and I have too many people asking me for eggs so I want to keep the girls laying all the time. This time round the incubator would take out that nine weeks of clucky chook action.
Funnily enough I have had clucky hens for over two months now. Sometimes it is just one then others it is four or even six I had the other day. Ridiculous. So I have been un-clucking my chooks. I will be writing a post about that soon. The old ways of doing it really work but I welcome new ideas too.
Back to the cuties. I collected eggs up over a course of five days and dated them and put them into the incubator. I weighed and examined each egg before it was chosen to become a chick. Making sure no cracks or imperfections were found. Then I followed the instruction of the incubator for the heating over the 21 days before the little chicks start to peck their way out.
We had a couple of eager chicks arriving a day early so I set up a box for their temporary home for the week. Now that they are a little bigger they are out in the hutch during the day and back in the box of the night. They have a heat mat under the box to keep them warm.
I had a 60% success rate and I am hoping that next time around I will have a better one. I also intend to start candleing my eggs at 1 week to check to see if I have a little chick inside or not. Mind you the guessing game of which egg is going to hatch was a bit of fun. Though if I plan to make this effective I will need to candle them. I plan on making my own device with a toilet roll holder. I am sure I will let you know how it goes when we do it.
Have you ever hatched your own chookies?
I dated the eggs so I knew which day I put them in and to know when to expect them to start hatching. The yellow tray automatically rotates the eggs saving me a little time. BELOW: the eggs were moved from the yellow tray to the tray underneath at day 20 to help with hatching, this made a safe environment for them.
The early birds in their heated paradise – our make shift brooder box.
Out they come, a couple of chick fresh out of their shell.