This story has been a bit of a saga.
Remember back when I got Molly the leghorn to go broody and slipped some eggs under her? Well, none hatched. I think it was a combination of inexperienced first-time mother and low fertility rate of eggs. She was sitting on 6 eggs: three exploded in the nest (they weren’t fertilised, and so went rotten), and three were still there after about 25 days (incubation should take 21 days for chickens). Of those last three, two were rotten and one had a dead chick in it.
Chalk that one up to experience.
Not long after that I saw a second-hand Hovabator incubator for sale on the Backyard Poultry site. It was only $100, and very close by, so I bought it. We collected eggs again, and put 15 into the incubator.
For almost three weeks I monitored the temperature, maintained the humidity, manually turned the eggs twice a day, and kept my fingers crossed. Then I realised how bad my timing was – we were due to go away for the weekend that they were due to hatch!
So we lined up a friend to take the incubator for a couple of days (incidentally, how cool is my town that the local councillor will happily hatch your chicks for you?!). On the day that we delivered it, the chicks had just started pecking holes in their shells and were cheeping.
Upon return from holiday we were greeted with 7 beautiful fluffy yellow chicks (8 eggs were unfertilised – one of our hens must run faster than our rooster!). The kids went nuts, and we’re now all obsessing over their every move. I could watch them for hours – they’re better than goldfish!
These ones are all ISA browns (donated by a friend!) crossed with a light brahma rooster. ISA browns are a hybrid variety, and so don’t breed true. It’ll be interesting to see how they turn out. You can already see that they have feathered legs like brahmas, and I’m hoping that the large brahma father will put a bit of meat on their skinny ISA brown bones. Yes, these ones will mostly be for the pot.
Now that we’ve got the incubator worked out and are comfortable with hatching chicks, I’m planning to get some fertile barnevelder or faverolles eggs to hatch some layers in a few months.