Monday, July 17, 2017

The Chicks have Hatched!

Our Second Brood

We recently purchased a commercial version of a home incubator. A fancy way of saying a nice styrofoam box to hatch out chickens. We picked this up our local Del's Tractor Supply (no they don't sell tractors.) This one was the top of the line they had in stock. The Farm Innovator's Digital Circulated Air Incubator with Egg Turner.
 It has a thermostatically controlled heater, a circulating fan to reduce hot and
cool spots, a tray with room for 41 eggs, a motorized egg turner so we wouldn't have to, a lower set of water channels for maintaining the proper humidity, and small weave hardware cloth to keep the chicks out of the channels and the water once they'd hatched. It also has a large viewing window for watching the process, and a control module that keeps track on monitoring/ displaying the temperature, humidity % and the number of days left for incubation. Temp of the heater is preset, but you can change it to whatever you want in 1/2 degrees from, I believe, 98.5-101.  You can also set the egg hatch time for using this for turkey, quail, geese or any other bird's eggs.
This product did all it said it would, turned the eggs, though initially this mechanism was a bit loud, I was able to get it whisper quiet by applying a touch of Vaseline to the gear tracks. Didn't make a sound after that. 
We loaded up 41 fertilized eggs in to the unit and set it to work. After a week we candled the eggs, BTW- they provide a Candler! - and found that of the 41, 40 had embryos! We kept the 41st to check again at the next candling date, just in case. Second check same as the first. 40 developing embryos one clear egg. Third candling showed us only dark forms in the shell, and the outline of a very clear air spot. We could see movement, but no real definition through the brown shells. 

We were a bit surprised on the the first two chicks arrival since they hatched out a day early. Along with the new incubator, we tried setting eggs the commercial way. That is, chilling a number of eggs for a number of days to try to get them all to hatch out on the same single day. Whoops- didn't work so well at first. 

The next day was busy for the chicks- most of them hatched out this day- we had 12 eggs not hatching. We did get two more from this group to hatch out after midnight, so a total of 31 of the 41 we set actually hatched. We had one pip out that later died, but over all a hatch rate of 73.1 % or a 50% increase over our first time! Lightening is getting better at this the older he gets.  

We did get three chicks with Splay. This is a ligament stretching that leaves the chicks with their feet "splayed" out hence the name. They have a hard time standing since the ligaments are out of place. Most people with these chicks cull them out, but we are trying to fix this so we can keep the chicks in the flock. So far it is promising. we should only have to treat these little ones for another day or so. They are already up and walking, even hobbled as they are with the soft band-aid 'brace".

We are starting a Korean Farming Method of raising our chickens. We've been attending classes at the Hawaiian Sanctuary and per their instructions, we started them off by feeding them Brown Rice for the first three days. We start the boiled egg yolks for them tomorrow. And finally, we are moving them into their new home today, the red brooder in the coop, to get used to the hens they will eventually be flock mates with.

We have another new item to keep them warm; a brooder heating plate. 
Rather than a light that can burn out or worse, start a fire, we have a new flat plate heater that we can adjust the height as the chicks grow.  They are under it now, so I thin they'll be fine using it one we set it in the coop. This should comfortably fit all 30 of the new chicks and I will post an up date soon! 

Next: Growing chicks and prepping the new runs.


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