What a week! We’ve rehomed birds and taken in some and managed to put together a play house. The play house was given to us and is perfect to keep the silkies warm on wet cold days so a lick of paint and some felt and it’s nearly ready to put them in, we just need a nest box and perches, a door and Windows and then they can move into “cluckingham palace”we also rehomed Ronnie and the four other roosters on Saturday. A short drive took us to the smallholding where the man took them to a barn with thirty or so pullets. He said on Tuesday he will take them to the market. We explained that we hatched them so he gave us a box of Orpington eggs and two young pullets that I picked out from a array of chicks. He said any roosters we hatch we can take them back. The two chicks exploring their run, he has no idea what they are I reckon the one on the right is a silver campine. When I returned home my mums friend had delivered her two chickens in their eglu go. She had to rehome them since their dog was frightened of them as they would chase him inside 😂 one of thems a little; very hen pecked but hopefully her feathers will grow back.and finally I’ve been avertising the quail chicks for some time now and if I could rehome at least 7 I would hatch the eggs as I would be able to cope withso many birds! I didn’t think any one would want them and decided to crack the eggs, 4 were fertile and then soon after I found that bobtail orpingtons are quite rare and now some one wants all eleven quail. I should of kept them! Any way the quail will be going on Tuesday then I may hatch some more. 🐣
It’s summer and hens are going broody and incubators are just calling to be used but which one is the best? Recently we’ve Been hatching lots of eggs . And it made myself think which ones better? So I’ve decided to channel my thoughts into a blog post… I’ll go over the dis advantages and advantages of both and then I’ll come to a conclusion.
- No need to check humidity, egg turning and temperatures the broody hen will do it all herself.
- She’s Eco friendly too: no power needed just food, water and a shelter- she will even give you nice big smelly broody poos for the compost big too.
- It’s much more natural for the chicks they can learn to be a proper chicken.
- The mum will teach them to drink and eat.
- You will need to move her into her own coop even when she’s incubating eggs.
- She may leave the eggs especially is she’s a first time mum.
- She may break eggs while incubating them.
- Accurate hatching times as with a hen she gets off to eat drink etc. They might take a couple of days longer.
- You get to experience up close a chick hatching.
- You can candle the eggs easily (as with a hen she will peck your hand off!) to make sure you have no nasty eggs that may effect the growing embryos.
- Once they’ve hatched you need to put them in brooder which needs regularly cleaning out and needs to be inside a Warm room.
- You need to regularly dip the chicks beaks in the drinker so they know where the food is, with a broody she will, teach them this herself.
Both! We’ve found its better to incubate the eggs your self then brood them under a hen. You will get better hatch results with a good incubator especially if the hens a first time mum. As you might of picked up with the advantages and disadvantages that with the broody hen her advantages were mostly once the eggs have hatched and her disadvantages were when she was incubating the eggs the Opposite goes for a incubator. You’ll find that there’s nothing better than seeing a chick hatch and then for a affectionate mother hen raise it.
So how do you go about doing so firstly once your hen goes broody start to incubate the eggs (I’ve got a two part blog on incubating eggs ) then once they’ve all hatched wait for darkness outside then pop the chicks under the hen in her broody coop. (I also have a blog on caring for chicks) she should take to the chicks straight away when morning comes. Don’t disturb her to much. Leave her to it after all mumma hen knows best.
If you follow our Facebook page you will know we sadly lost our pekin bantam Ivy about two weeks ago, now she’s up with maisey eating as much corn she likes. From sad news to the fact we’ve just revived 6 hatching eggs from Kelsa poultry (Facebook page Kelsapoultry) Sarah is really friendly and given us advice on the incubation, I was able to choose 2 blue/splash, 2 Lemon/ barred Lemmon and 2 millefleur pekin bantam eggs I’ve also collected roses egg and what I think is two of the Kardashians eggs as one of them was mated with a few days ago. As I’m writing this it’s the 22nd so they need 24 hours pointy end down to settle the eggs so they will be in the Incy tommorow afternoon and then Friday afternoon I’ll turn them for the first time then three times a day until the morning of Monday the 10th after then lockdown until the eggs hatch! Yep it’s all on a table in my chicken calendar.
In this part of hatching chicks we will be talking about setting up your brooder.this is a cage where your chicks will stay from 20hours old to 4-6 weeks old. For a brooder you will need…
- Brinsea Eco glow chick brooder
- A cage(we use a Guinea pig cage)
- Marbels and a small pot
- Small pot
- Chick crumbs to grower pellets
First fill a layer of saw dust in the cage then plug the brooder into the plug socket and lead then place it in the corner with the back facing a pot of water near by nearer than the feed but as the chicks become stronger move it slowly further away. To prevent the chick drowning add some marbles into the pot also when placing the chick in the brooder dip the beak in the water and place them gently under the lamp. Feed the chicks on chick crumbs until 8 weeks of age sometimes chicks will not really get an appetite till 4 days of age so don’t worry if they aren’t eating much!Depending on weather and how feathered the chick are they are able to be put out side at 4-6 weeks of age. once the chick is older than 8 weeks change the feed to growers pellets or mash then onto layers pellets or mash at 18-20 weeks of age (just before they begin to lay). And that’s how you care for your chicks 🙂.
Hatching chicks is fun and a great way to start or grow your flock. Although it seems scary once you know what to do you soon feel eggcited about hatching chicks. But what on earth do you need?
- Incubator (we will be talking about the brinsea mini Eco and brinsea mini advance)
- Brooder lamp (brinsea Eco glow 20)
- Brooder box or simply a cage
- If you choose a candeling torch(you get to see the embryo develop which is eggstra fun!)
- Chick crumbs
- And last but most importantly fertile hatching eggs
How to start
Pick an incubator I recommend brinsea. A more expensive brand but better than most imported cheap incubators. For small flocks a mini Eco or mini advance both similar but the Eco is manual you turn the eggs your self and has a factory fitted temperature capable to hatch most species the Eco can hold 10 chicken eggs but I recommend 7 to 8 at the most, where as the advance can be adjusted easily by buttons on top of the incubator, has a egg tray wich holds 7 chicken eggs this is used for automatically turning the eggs to what degree and at what times. The advance is more expensive compared to the Eco but is less time consuming to the Eco.
Secondly you need hatching eggs these can be purchased by a breeder a online poultry farm or on eBay, if you all ready have a flock of hens with a rooster you can hatch your own eggs if you would like. Just make sure you rooster does the rooster dance, also fertility can be effected if there’s to many hens to a rooster. One rooster can serve 10 hens 5 hens could mean he won’t leave them alone causing in the hens to loose feathers and even cause Injuries but too many hens and the eggs can be in fertile. If you ordered eggs and they’ve arrived or travels in the post its best to leave them point down for 24 hours out on any bubble wrap, tissue or a polystyrene box so they can breathe.
Preparing your incubator (brinsea mini Eco)
First plug the lead into the hole at the back of the lid of the incubator And plug the other end into the plug socket put the base of the incubator on a solid table out of the sun then fill the one of the sides of the humidity pot up to the divider with water. Leave the incubator for a couple of ours to settle befor opening it or putting eggs in.
Now for the fun part
After a couple of ours of the incubator being on check the red light on top of the brinsea Eco. If it’s flashing it’s the right temperature but check the built in thermometer to see it should be around 37.5 for hens eggs if the light isn’t flashing leave it checking it every now and again also check the temperature. Get your eggs and using a pencil draw a X and on the other side draw a O this comes in handy when turning the eggs. If the incubators stable the water is filled up to the right amount then place your eggs in pointy end facing into the water pot and X facing directly up. For the first day leave the eggs be and then on the morning of the second day you start turning! You should turn the eggs three times a day, morning,lunch and afternoon but we turn morning at 8 afternoon at 4 and everning at 8. So start on the second day turn from the X to the O then the next time you turn turn from the O to the X and finally turn from the X to the O do this every day filing up one of the sides of the water pot up when it needs to be. If you choose to you can use a bright torch or candeling torch to candle the eggs to see how the egg is developing but I would not throw out undeveloped eggs as you never know especially dark nearly opaque brown eggs.
When you stop turning the eggs is on day 18 wich means the evening of day 18 you will turn the eggs the last time fill up the water pot on both sides and place the chick guard pot lid onto the pot to prevent chicks drowning. And that’s it wait not opening the lid until day 21 when most chicks have hatched. Once most chicks have hatched open the incubator making sure others aren’t hatching as the membrane will deflate suffocating the chick. Your chicks after fluffing up and all hatched are ready to move into the brooder where they will stay for the next 4 to 6 weeks with the heat lamp set up, when placing the chicks in the brooder dip the beaks in a shallow dish of water so they know where the water in then place them carefully under the heat lamp they then will warm up and begin to search for something to eat so then place a dish on chick crumbs they will soon learn to scratch and eat.
Don’t forget to join us in 2-4 weeks when we will be talking about looking after the young chicks whilst in the brooder also check out the new blog post on how to Set up a brooder.
To see more photos of the new little chick visit our face book page theurbanhens