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Chick Experiment

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I will be posting information on our efforts at the community center to transition to a barter and self-sustainable economy over the next few months. This post will center on our first effort to hatch chicks from our flock of seven Buff Orpington hens and one rooster (Sarge). We do not name the hens but my someone who will remain unnamed, calls them Nugget1 through Nugget7.

We are happy with this breed for their prolific egg laying, large size for meat, ability to withstand cold and good temperament. If you are considering raising chickens in the future, make a list of your expectations/requirements before selecting a breed including brooding.


Harris Farms Nurture Right 360 Incubator, 1030121

The Harris Farms 1030121 Nurture Right 360 Incubator is the perfect, easy-to-use incubator whether it is your first incubation or your hundredth incubation. The first-in-class features of this Nurture Right incubator make your at-home hatching a pleasant experience and supports high hatch rates. At Manna Pro, we believe in nurturing life and this incubator will help you do just that.

  • Auto-stop: Nurture Right 360 incubator will stop turning eggs 3 days before hatch day
  • Automatic egg turner: Eases the incubation process and helps stimulate hen hatch for higher hatch rate
  • 360 visibility: Clear top on incubator makes it great for educational observation
  • 360 induced airflow: Nurture Right 360 incubator provides optimal air circulation & temperature stability
  • 22 egg capacity: Easy-to-use incubator can hold up to 22 chicken eggs, 12-18 duck eggs and 22-24 pheasant eggs

We collected 21 eggs over a three day period and kept them in a bowl at room temperature. The eggs were rotated periodically but no additional measures were taken.

On day 13 in the incubator, we candled the eggs and all but one had an air sac. We were able to see some movement and veins. The non-viable egg was discarded. On day 18 in the incubator, we checked to ensure that the automatic egg turner was off and removed the egg turning tray from the incubator. We also increased the humidity as outlined to 70%. We did monitor the humidity fairly closely throughout this process but it did drop overnight in some cases without any negative end results.

On day 20 (not 21) the chicks hatched. The above picture of 16 chicks was at the end of the day. The following morning, the remaining 3 chickens were transferred to a holding bin. The remaining egg had been viable and the chicken had almost broken out of the shell. I carefully removed the shell and the chick had died trying to hatch.

I will not address the difference of opinion concerning whether or not to help a chick hatch. In this case, the chick died in the night so the decision was not mine to make. For a first attempt, 19 chicks out of 21 eggs was a success in our minds.

Obviously the bin, pine shavings, chick feed, water dispenser and heat lamp were already in place from our previously store bought chicks last year. Our grandsons were able to see the chicks being born and they will never forget the memory.

So what to do with 19 chicks? The experience and knowledge gained was the primary goal. The secondary goals were to foster good will and find them good homes. The next afternoon, six were given to good friends down the road and five went to another friend. All have previous experience with chickens. We kept eight and are hoping for at least four hens.

In the future, I would like to learn how to sex the chickens. Feeding chicks for a few weeks and then having to cull roosters may not be practical if supplies are tight and/or feed is not available.

David DeGerolamo


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