Sunday, March 13, 2011

On the chicken front...

... it's been a tough Winter. We've lost several chickens to Chronic Respiratory Disease and Marek's. The chickens who contracted Marek's were hatched in our yard and as such never vaccinated. I've learned my lesson! Any chicks hatched on our farm in the future will be vaccinated for Marek's, no exceptions! 

As we approach the three year mark of chicken keeping, I've realized it's time to make some decisions about removing some of the older, non-productive members of our flock to make room for newer ones. Just as I was pondering this, Jared's beloved chicken, Anne Dumplings, was acting broody. So I drove to Buckley (30 miles one way) a week ago Friday to get some green Ameraucauna hatching eggs, along with a couple of other breeds. I arrived home only to find that Anne was no longer broody and here I was with 13 hatching eggs all ready for incubation. 

I had to swallow my- completely unwarranted- disdain for the incubator and borrow one from the Seattle Farm Co-op. It's a little tricky with the temperature, as we have it out on our unheated porch,  but  after 24 hours we'd mostly figured it out.

 Of course, I've decided we need our own incubator; one that's held together with more than Styrofoam and the power of Jesus.  This past Thursday, I placed an order for the Brinsea Octagon 20 ECO and egg turner accessory,   It's beautiful!.  No more waiting for broody hens to hatch flighty and unmanageable chicks. We can choose the eggs we want when we want them. It's a fine price and has received rave reviews from "chicken hatchers" far and wide, both farmers and researchers.

We candled the currently incubating eggs last night and 50% of them weren't fertile. So, we'll start again with some new hatching eggs this weekend once the new incubator arrives Friday. Sophie is planning her science project around hatching eggs using the incubator and if we'd relied on the current set-up it may have been a disaster.  Here's to a better set up the second time around! 


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