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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Egg Watch 2016!

Here at the Yeo house, we usually hatch a small clutch of chicks each spring. I just usually forget to blog about it. This year i have decided to put it out there for the world to see.

 My teenage daughter is doing this with me this year, as she is applying for an animal management diploma for college next year, and wants to get some practical experience in before her interview.

 I ordered the eggs from ebay. I have had good luck in the past buying eggs this way, but it has to be said that sending eggs through the postal service can result in a lower hatch rate, as they don't really like the vibrations and rough handling. Many rearers advertise through pages like preloved, or at animal feed shops, so you can look around locally and see what is available for you. I ordered some Cream Legbar birds. They lay the most beautiful Blue/Green/Turquoise (depending on which of my children you ask!) eggs. These birds are considered a rare breed and have soft feathers. They lay around 180- 200 eggs a year, so they are not the most prolific layers, but they will do for us. There is added bonus that they are an autosexing breed, which means i should be able to tell as soon as they are hatched which are the roosters and which are the pullets. The boys are lighter with a white spot on their head, and the girls will have a darker streak down their back.
It is recommended to let the eggs settle for a day with the fat end up to allow things to resettle and make sure the air space has returned to the correct position within the egg.
I like to run my incubator for 24 hours to ensure that it is maintaining a constant temperature before i "set" (put them in the incubator) my eggs. Its essential to make sure the equipment is working properly (especially as it has been sat in my loft all winter!). The temperature for incubating chicken eggs is 37.5°C - 37.8°C.
And in they go! I let them acclimatise in there for 24 hours before i get to the business of turning them.
You may have noticed I have numbered all my eggs, and drawn a circle on the top of each one. The number is so that I can identify each egg individually when candling (I'll get to that in a few days!) and come hatch time. The circle is so that I can identify which eggs have been turned when turning them. I turn my eggs 3-5 times a day. This mimics the mother hen nudging them around in the nest. It is done to ensure that the chicks develop correctly inside the shell, as if they aren't turned, they rest against the shell and this can cause malformed chicks. I turn them an odd number of times during the day, because then they spend each night on a different side, so they don't always spend each night laying the same way.

 This blog has been neglected for a number of years, because I just wasn't sure where to go with it, but I suppose I don't really need a direction. I am just doing what a lot of people are, trying to fit a little more conciousness of our planet and our food chain into daily family life.

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