Spring is Here!

April 10, 2009

Spring is here!  Baby calves, baby piglets, planting oats, and 70 hour workweeks.  Spring is the perfect thing to follow long winter hibernation.  I feel I am a part of nature, not apart from nature.  Do you have seasons in your life?

My niece’s third grade class is planning on hatching chicken eggs and they asked me to furnish fertile eggs.   I have been providing fertile hatching eggs to one class or another for several years.  So far, everyone has had success incubating and hatching baby chicks from my chickens’ fertile eggs.  I’ll explain my protocol. 

One rooster is recommended for every ten hens.  House the roosters with the hens for at least two weeks prior to saving eggs.  Save eggs for five days or less prior to incubation.  Only select clean, well formed, normal eggs.  I put fresh straw in all of the nesting boxes to ensure cleanliness.   Store the eggs in egg cartons at 60 F.  Elevate one end of the egg carton and switch ends twice a day.  This prevents the contents of the egg from sticking inside the shell.  Place all the eggs in an incubator and follow the directions. 

Embryos will not start to develop until placed in an incubator or a hen begins to sit on them.  This is how a chicken can lay eggs over several days and still have all the chicks hatch at the same time.

The natural option is to allow a broody hen to sit on eggs.  A broody hen is one that wants to sit on a nest of eggs.  Most modern chickens have the broodiness bred out of them as they stop laying eggs once they become broody.  I still have some hens that exhibit broodiness and will allow some to sit on a nest and raise their own chicks. 

Everyone is excited when the chicks begin to pip through their shells.  Sometimes a chick is not strong enough to break out of its shell and will die.  An environment that was perfect for development becomes a confining prison resulting in death. 

Spring is here!  Pip, pip, away!