Raising Chickens

So, You Want To Hatch Your Own Eggs, Now What?

This week, I have two guest bloggers that raise and hatch chickens. You want to learn how?? Read this Blog Post and get started hatching your own eggs!

By Chris and Deanna – Chris and Deanna homestead on 33 acres in Southwestern Oregon where they raise most of their own produce, as well as chickens, rabbits and goats.  They have a combined 30+ years of experience across a wide array of homesteading skills.

Recently we decided to increase the size of our flock of Jersey Giant chickens.  Up until now, we have always bought chicks either from local feed stores or through online sources.  This time, however, we decided to take a more “homestead” type of approach and hatch eggs from our own flock of 2 roosters and 30 hens.  It was much easier and far more rewarding than we could have ever imagined.

We started by doing lots of research on the various methods and equipment needed to hatch our own chicks.  There are varieties of opinions on how hatching and brooding chicks should be done.  We settled on an incubator kit by Little Giant that featured everything we would need, including an automatic egg turner accessory.  It has a capacity of 41 eggs.  We decided to hatch fewer than 41 eggs since we really had no idea what we were doing and did not want to get in over our head. 

We chose 10 nice eggs for our first try at hatching.  Using the instructions supplied with our incubator kit we candled the eggs to try to make sure they were fertilized.  We set the incubator up on our kitchen table so we could keep our eyes on the process.  The instructions were clear on how to maintain humidity in the incubator, which we would later find out, is crucial to getting a good result. During our research we found that there is normally a 60% hatch rate on eggs.  Our results were just about there.

In went the eggs…and then the wait began.  At day 22 we started to notice that some of the eggs were starting to move around a bit.  This is normal when they are about to hatch.  The next day six of the chicks began to “pip”.  This is the term for the first hole they peck in the eggs and is a sure sign that the hatch has begun.  At this point, humidity levels are even more important.  We did not find out until later that our son had been opening the incubator and moving the eggs so the “pip” was facing up.  This created havoc with the humidity in the incubator.

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Two chicks hatched normally on day 25 while three seemed to be having trouble and one did not progress beyond the “pip”.  We left the process alone and monitored, keeping the humidity up as best as we could.  It quickly became apparent that the two chicks having trouble would need some help.  Turning to “YouTube University”, we found that you can help chicks having a hard time by actually peeling some of the shell and gently opening the inner membrane for them. 

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This is something you will want to study up on because there are some specific recommendations to follow if you are going to try it, and it will help you hatch more chicks.  Following the information we found, we helped the three chicks hatch by hand.  It was an incredible process.  All three that were having trouble had a condition known as “shrink wrapping”.  This happens when humidity levels vary wildly after the “pip" stage, which is where our helpful son figured into the picture.  Every time he was opening and closing the incubator, he was messing up the humidity levels.  The lesson learned here is do not open your incubator unless you have to, and then, only keep it open for a few seconds.

At this point, we had five chicks hatched.  The sixth that only “pipped” never hatched.  We did our own chick autopsy to try to figure out what happened and we found that the inner membrane of the egg was dry and had make it impossible for the chick to hatch.

 

 

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After the five living chicks were fully dry, about a day later, we transferred them to a brooder.  One poor little fellow was born with deformed feet and he did not make it.  We feel that this was due to the “shrink wrapping”.  The four remaining chicks grew quickly and went to an outdoor brooder when they were about 3 weeks old.  We ended up with one hen and three roosters, which was not what our plan was since we wanted to hatch more hens, but we were grateful for what we got and the learning experience we had.  We likely will never buy chicks again now that we know how easy and rewarding it is to hatch our own.  Do not be afraid to hatch your own chicks.  You will make your homestead more self-sustaining and can even sell your chicks! 

 

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One final note.  We normally use torn up newspaper in our brooders.  This time we decided to use wood shavings.  It turns out this is a bad idea because new chicks do not understand that they are not supposed to eat the shavings.  More than once, we had to take shavings out of their beaks and point them to their food.


Wow! As I read this, I quickly understood that time and patience are needed for Hatching Your Own Eggs! Great tip on the wood shavings too!

Thank you Chris and Deanna for your time in putting this together. Are you interested in being one of my Guest Blogger? Then send me a email at amp3@reagan.com and be added to the list. Looking forward to next week? Post a comment and let me know what you think and what you would like to know more about! 

100 Essentials #87 and #88

Well, were almost done with our list of 100 Essentials. Item #87 Stay Alert Gum

Gum 5 times faster than coffee

Each piece of military caffeine gum contains 100 mg of caffeine, which is about the amount found in a six-ounce cup of coffee.

“Because it’s chewed, it delivers caffeine to the body four to five times faster than a liquid or pill because it’s absorbed through tissues in the mouth — not the gut, like in traditional formulations,” Dr. Kamimori, a behavioral Army researcher, said.

A sleep researcher, he learned of the idea of delivering caffeine through gum in 1998. Congress funded the first study on the gum a year later.

When the study validated how fast the caffeine was absorbed in the body, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command began developing and testing military caffeine gum for use in sustained or continuous military operations when Soldiers typically don’t get enough sleep. To order (Click Image)

Item #88 Hats, Bandanas, Neckerchiefs ( Your Probably already have these) If not, any great Farm and Ranch Store will have these. We prefer Coastal Farm and Ranch but what ever you find will be great to have on hand.

#89 Goats, Rabbits, Quail Chickens (Cages, Food, Water Containers) I was just at Coastal earlier today and they had several different Rabbits. My father would slaughter one every Saturday and that's what we had for dinner. Easy to skin and better then Chicken in my opinion. 

Now Goats, Check out the link below and choose the best one for you. I have a friend who raises and sells Boer Goats and is doing really well breeding and selling. Great way to earn a little extra cash for your Farm or Ranch.

Now, I have several friends that are raising Quail for meat and eggs to produce more. Here is a great article about Raising Quail. (Click On the Photo)

There is so much information on raising chickens but here are a few of my favorite rescourses. (Click on the photo for the Link) 

You will soon understand the value of growing your own food! Enjoy the process, eat well and your family will love you for it.