Monday, 9 February 2015

Chicken Incubator & Brooder

This is the first chance I've had to talk about my latest chicken adventure, been a busy 2 months and not much time to blog about it.

I decided to purchase an incubator and brooder so I could begin hatching chickens when I wanted rather than waiting for the hens to decide. I've spent a lot of years thinking about this and many hours searching for just the right piece of equipment.
This is a link to the CHICKENS HATCHING on YouTube

I purchased a Maino incubator and separate brooder. These 2 pieces of equipment may seem expensive but in my opinion are well worth the money. Easy to use and easy to clean.

I can't speak highly enough about this equipment. The chicks hatched perfectly with no issues at all. I would recommend to anyone who is interested in hatching chickens. These are considered commercial and do take up a reasonable amount of space. The incubator is a sensitive piece of equipment and does need to be treated with respect. It operates best in a room that has a constant temp between 18 to 25 degrees Celsius. A room with people coming and going is not good so it needs to be away from general people traffic if possible.

I started with 16 eggs in the incubator and I had a hen sit at the same time so I gave her another 4 eggs to sit on. Of the 16 incubator eggs, 11 hatched and from the hen, 3 hatched.

The eggs where a combination of purebred (standard bred) Rhode Island Reds (Rare Heritage Breeds) and the rest of them where purposely crossed with a Rhode Island Red rooster and Light Sussex hens to produce sex-linked chickens.

The eggs that didn't hatch failed for a number of reasons, 2 where infertile and the remaining 4 showed the embryo growth stop at different stages from day 11 to day 19. Why the embryos died at these dates is anyone's guess but its not unusual for chicks to die before they hatch. How did I know they died at these dates? Easy, I broke the eggs opened and had a look, after I was sure that no more chicks would hatch. I have a chart which I downloaded from one of the chicken websites, can't remember which one, and it shows the different stages of growth so it makes it easy to identify the age of the embryo.

I did notice that the embryo that died at day 19 had inadvertently punctured the yolk sac with its foot so it had no chance of surviving. Apparently they are not called chicks until day 20 so that's why I am referring to them as embryos.

The babies are 5 weeks old now and are cute as. Sadly I did lose one of them to Marek's Disease (I think, not 100% sure). She began to hobble on her right leg and as the days progress she became unable to stand. Her little leg stuck out behind her and I knew that her chance of survival was limited. Thankfully none of the others have shown any signs of disease.

The chicks have been placed in the nursery part of the chicken coop and will remain in the nursery for another 7 weeks or until I can determine the sex of the purebreds. They will then be separated and the hens placed with the main flock.

Woolly work space

This is a photo of my little work space where I make the different crochet & knitted toys. I find it incredibly relaxing and no two to...