Thursday, January 12, 2017

I have a problem with chicks

Last year I had great success with incubating chicks. I did three batches of nine and ended up with fifteen hens and three roosters. With luck like that I should have known this year would not be so easy. I gave away or sold most of the new chickens which meant other people approaching me for more Light Sussex hens. No worries I'll have some for you.

So the first batch of the year I incubated in September - a set of Isa Browns to assist with renewing the vigour of mu best layers. Five hatched - two hens. Not bad - could be worse.
A batch of Light Sussex - only two hatched and one survived but developed a very dodgy leg and will have to be eaten. Next batch - two hatched and one survived OK. Most of the eggs were infertile.

I did some research and worked out that my rooster was probably too close genetically to the hens. Despite his success last year the genetics could have been resulting in low fertility and dodgy spraddle legs. Time to get a new rooster. 

A friend had a spare which turned out to share a grandparent with my hens but was worth a try. Turned the incubator on and it had died. More research and an expensive new but larger incubator later I have 22 eggs set. 18 Light Sussex and 4 Isa Browns. This has to work.

However the humidity levels were harder to notice and quicker to dry up so I was a bit worried. Three weeks later four hatched successfully but just over half were still unfertilised. Back to the drawing board.

Learning to candle would tell me whether the eggs were worth persevering with but not increase the overall success. 

A new rooster perhaps? A better eye on the humidity levels? More research and time needed.

The first two hatchlings seeking to escape the hot temperatures in the potting shed.

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