Wednesday, April 28, 2010


It's getting to the time for the eggs to hatch! The last 3 days of incubating, the incubator needs to go into "lockdown". The eggs are no longer turned, the humidity is raised and the chicks can orientate themselves to start pipping the egg in time for hatching!

The eggs are typically laid on their sides instead of standing up in an automatic turner if the incubator has one. The humidity is raised to aid the chick in escaping the shell and membrane. If the chick starts drying out and the membrane gets tough the chick may become glued in the shell and unable to fully hatch and die. I don't have a turner and have been doing my turning by hand using a shortish metal "basket" to elevate one side and then a few hours later switch to the other.

I have the eggs in some little plastic mesh baskets in the incubator now, readying for hatching. The baskets give me 6 sections which is great. I have all the banty eggs in one basket so that the tiny chicks are separated from the large so they can get hatched and get some strength before moving around much in the incubator. I think the smooth plastic mesh will be more comfortable on their little tummys. Last hatch, one of the chicks tore his yolky belly and died on the mesh screen in the incubator. So I'm trying to avoid that happening again. The mesh allows air flow so should work well.

Now for my problem that I didn't think far enough ahead to avoid.....the last chicks are still in the brooder and using the heat lamp! I started turning it off during the day and they are fine with that. I'm hoping I can move them out of the brooder and keep them in the house in a cage for a bit longer. I have a ferret cage I've used for the chickens (transporting) in the past. (I got it at a garage sale for $5 and figured at the time it would come in handy for something!) I'll set it inside the play yard the 3 goatie kids are in. (Got the play yard at a garage sale too for $10!) It's good to have options when I forget a detail in something like this!

I'm hoping that I can leave the 2 lame chicks in with the newly hatched. They don't move around so much but they do eat and drink well so they may be helpful to the new chicks while allowing them more time. I tried the vit/mineral and bandaid therapies on them but couldn't get their legs up under them right. I'm now debating if I should offer them on freecycle for someone who might like them or to keep them for now. I am responsible for them so trying to decide what is in their best interest. I can maintain them as layers (if pullets) in a chicken tractor over the summer but their winter care would be at issue. They wouldn't be safe in a goat pen, they would be picked on by the able bodied chickens, etc. So Winter is my concern. NO offense, but if they stay, it may be that they go to be butchered with the excess roos so what is most humane for them is what is the ultimate decision. Farm life isn't always easy or "pretty". Sometimes manure happens and we need to make these decisions. Winter would be a cruel death sentence in a flock here in the North country.

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