My Tiny Brood of Backyard Chooks

chooks, hens or chickens?


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Brinsea mini advance incubator hatching photos

The first time I used my incubator, I had a complete failure (problem was with the eggs, not the incubator). This time I had five eggs hatch out of six.

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When I got home from work there was one chick hatched and another two hatched shortly after. (I think the second two waited for me to get home so I could watch them.)

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Then another one pipped. You can see the little egg tooth peeping out.

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Then it zipped it’s way around the egg.

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Then it pushed on the shell to make enough room to get out.

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Hello world.

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Exhausted and time for a sleep. After all, the pip did start at 7pm and the chick greeted us at 1:30am. Ah, hrrm, yes, well I did sit up watching the whole time. It was my first hatch after all. One of the previous chicks pipped, zipped and greeted us all within 20 minutes. These are Speckled Sussex chicks.

 

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Plans and animals don’t always work out

I bought an incubator because I had two roosters and no broody hens and wanted more chickens.

I bought two Plymouth Barred Rocks at point of lay as I desperately needed to boost our egg production.

Now I have no roosters (so no fertile eggs for the incubator) and one of my new Plymouth Barred Rock girls is broody (so a sudden reduction in my daily egg production)!

Oh well, at least I will have baby chicks.

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Henley is a first time mum so I hope it all works out. She is sitting on four Orpington eggs that are due to hatch in the next few days.


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Incubator hatch disappointment

We had the incubator humming quietly away in our kitchen for 23 days with no sign of hatching. The eggs were due to hatch on day 21. On the morning of day 24 I gave up and turned the incubator off.

I had candled the eggs at day 19 and thought that at least one egg (a cream coloured Plymouth Barred Rock) had a fully formed chick inside and potentially one of the Barnevelder eggs but it was difficult to see inside their brown speckled eggs.  This was also my first time candling eggs so I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for.

That evening I broke open the eggs to see how many were fertile and at what stage had any chicks died inside the shells.

Six of the seven eggs were either infertile or hadn’t started to develop for some reason, possibly because they were too old at the time of setting the eggs. The seventh egg had a fully formed chick inside that had absorbed most of the yolk so must have died just before it was due to hatch. I have since learnt that I shouldn’t have candled the eggs after day 18 when the incubator goes into lockdown, so I am guessing that may have harmed the chick.

I was of course disappointed with the outcome but then I did know there was only a slight chance that the eggs were still fertile after losing both our roosters a few weeks before setting the eggs.

So what next?

I now have six Speckled Sussex eggs that I bought off Trademe (New Zealand’s equivalent to eBay) in the incubator. They are a reasonably rare breed in New Zealand so I hope they hatch. They are due on December 6th.


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A new incubator and a terrorising rooster

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My chickens do not go broody so I bought an incubator.

Well, that is not entirely true of course. Aunt Dorrie, my bantam has been broody many, many, many, many times before but for numerous reasons, has not resulted in any chicks.

It all seemed to happen at once. We decided to increase our egg production and bought two beautiful Plymouth Barred Rocks in their first year of lay.

We also bought an incubator to hatch some of our own eggs since we had two roosters and were not having any luck with broody hens. Hannah Hen did go broody a few years ago and hatched chicks from fertilised eggs we bought, but hasn’t been broody since. Possibly something to do with the fact that she is almost 8 years old. The two Barnevelders have never been broody in their three years.

So an incubator, it is.

The weekend that the Brinsea Mini Advance incubator arrived, happened to be the same weekend that the Plymouth Barred Rocks arrived and the same weekend that we had King George put down.

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The following weekend we had to get rid of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull.

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With King George gone, Jonathan Livingstone, my Silver Spangled Hamburgh, took his place but as the main rooster he started terrorising my girls. He chased them relentlessly. They were running for dear life and squawking and even flying against the glass doors to get away from him. Hilda, my usually slow moving Barnevelder, ended up running into the hen house with Jonathan close on her heels. She jumped into the nesting box to get away from his terrorising advances. Jonathan relentlessly paced up and down the hen house waiting for her to get out of the nesting box. He finally gave up and came out and chased the others. Hilda stayed in that nesting for a full 24 hours.

Needless to say all egg production ceased that weekend and Jonathan was “taken away” the very next day.

So now I have an incubator and no roosters. If I could get some eggs into the incubator this week, fertility shouldn’t be an issue. With George having been so ill, he had not been doing his roosterly duties but Jonathan more than made up for that. But did I really want his aggressive genes in any of my chicks?

We were going away on holiday in a few weeks time and if I set the incubator this week, we would be away when the eggs hatched. That would be no good.

So we set a mixture of Barnevelder and Plymouth Barred Rock eggs in the incubator a week or so later. The chances of the eggs still being fertile were fairly low, but it is worth a try. I have low expectations so won’t be too disappointed if nothing hatches.