Thursday, March 7, 2013

Day #1 of the Hatch

The Incubator                    copyright Shobe Biz Communications

I've never hatched an egg before. (Why does Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss keep popping up in my mind?) After having raised three rounds of day-old chicks over the past year-and-a-half,  I decided to venture out and try something different--incubating fertilized eggs.

First things first, I hatched a plan. I desired a flock that would lay a variety of multicolored eggs--eggs that were olive, and blue, and chocolate--eggs that would make great photos. I, then, began to research purveyors of fertilized eggs.

When I typed in olive eggers--a cross between the Black Copper Maran and Ameracauna, and fertilized eggs on my Google search, I was directed to Chicken Scratch Poultry, a online site that sells fertilized eggs or day-old chicks.

I emailed Angie, the very friendly owner at Chicken Scratch Poultry, and placed an order for twelve varied chicks: 4 Olive Eggers, 2 Welsummers, 2 blue egg Ameracaunas, 2 French Black Copper Marans, and 2 French Blue Copper Marans. Angie was very helpful and communicative and told me specifically when the package of fertilized eggs would arrive. And, that date was today, March 7.

To see a box with the words "fragile" inscribed on it at my front doorstep excited me to no end. Carefully packed inside the box was a split egg carton, with six wrapped and marked eggs on each side. 

I unwrapped the eggs from the carton and gently placed them into my Farm Innovators Pro 4200 Incubator that was on the island in my kitchen. The night before, after a delicious dinner at a Korean barbecue restaurant, I had come home and set up the incubator. In about three hours, the temperature was within the suggested 99 to 100 degrees F and the humidity was within the suggested 55-60% (after adding a little bit of water into the bottom of the tray).

The soft hum of the incubator suggested that my baby chicks were beginning to "bake". I noticed that as my house cooled in the evening, the incubator needed a slight adjustment to maintain its temperature. What I didn't expect was an incubator sensitivity to any slight turn of its top dial. With a slight twist, the temperature quickly rose to 101 degrees. I took the top off for a few minutes to let the  temperature drop. By turning dial to the left just a bit, the temperature fell back into range.

I now have 12 potential fertilized eggs going through the process of being potential chicks. Research shows there is a 50-80% hatch rate and then, there is a 50% chance that the chick can be a rooster. So, if you're searching for hens who are good layers, you may have better luck purchasing day old chicks. Unfortunately, I am the adventurous kind and believe in testing my scientific luck.

I'll keep you posted as the days progress!

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