So, last year we had a farm full of babies…calves, horse, chickens, guinea keets, kitten, puppies. This year we thought that the baby stuff would be over for a while. Silly us. We lost quite a few hens due to their pecking order and cannibalism (chickens are mean). So in order to continue having eggs and a good variety of birds, we had to incubate some of our “leftover” flock to re-populate the coop. The first hatch began with 36 eggs and only yielded three live chicks and three dead ones. The rest of the eggs didn’t get fertilized. We decided to have another go at it and put 37 eggs in the incubator figuring that if we had similar results, we would at least get 6 (total) to add to our current flock. Little did we know that the majority of the second hatch were fertilized and strong.
The morning after setting up the incubator for the second hatch, we came down to find the temperature at 105!! They are supposed to remain between 99.5-101…at best, a difficult task. I figured, I probably made a bunch of “chicken nuggets” and thought I should replace some that might have gotten cooked with some fresh ones from that morning. I did this for 2 days, replacing one row at a time to hopefully yield better results. Then the waiting game. Typically the incubation time is 21 days, but because we had three different start dates we weren’t positive exactly when they would hatch. Soon enough we started hearing the little peeps from within the shells and one by one, they started to show themselves. After the first one came, the others seemed to come quicker. Five of them didn’t develop at all, four died just before they would have hatched, and the rest did pretty well. We had to help a couple of them, because they started to dry up in the shells and got stuck. The “egg-sperts” (sorry…I had to…) say to not help the ones that get stuck because they will only die. I figured, they would die if I didn’t help them, so we did and gave them a little while here. Of those, two of them lived only a week, but the others have done well. So needless to say, we now have a LOT of birds. We also are aquiring one rooster and three hens from a neighbor, and we purchased some more guinea keets (because last years got eaten by coons and minks). The guineas are helpful because they eat ticks and mosquitoes and made it much nicer (and noisier) last year.