Yesterday was a big day for me. Really, no joke.
My incubated eggs started to hatch, signaling the beginning of spring.
In early March, I brought a bunch of eggs in the house, even though I've had no luck hatching eggs these last few years. I'm serious, I'm talking zero chicks out of five batches.
Last fall, I managed to hatch out a few, but only two survived the winter - both roosters that I gave away. The duck hatched out more chicks than I did.
Yesterday my luck changed. Five chicks hatched out.
Why is this important? Purchasing chicks sets me back anywhere from $3 to $5 per chick. I start with a loss, need to feed them all summer, they start laying in the fall. It takes all winter to make my money back. If I hatch them, I get a head start.
If one of the hens would hatch them, I'd make money. So far, only Smudge has hatched any eggs. She hatched three chicks, three years ago. Not a good track record.
I'm afraid that I picked a breed that isn't very fertile. The Dominique or Dominiker may have fallen out of favor as a production chicken for that reason.
I thought my old rooster was the problem. But he's been gone two years now. His son, Sony, is a fine looking rooster - the current flock of hens is all Barred Rocks. I'm going to have to candle the eggs that are left to see if chicks formed. If I get a lot of 'clear' eggs, I'll know there is a fertility problem. Since this flock of hens is only a year old - I don't really need a replacement flock.
Since they are banded, I can tell the hens apart. It's been handy. I know that Seven likes high places. Six is currently sitting on a nest of duck eggs. If Six keeps it up, I'll give her a nest of chicken eggs. She can try her luck at raising chicks.
I'm not so good at it.