Friday, April 2, 2010

Spring Chickens

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.


Jean Davis said...

Good luck with your chicks! They look so cute when they are just hatched.

Oh, and if you haven't seen it yet, I left an award for you on my blog. :)

Ms Kitty said...

Thanks Jean, I've been really busy with the farm. Chicks hatching, fence coming down, horses escaping, new fence coming up this week.

So if it looks like I've fallen off the face of cyber space - I have, but "I'll be back."