Tuesday 19 June 2012

The Calm before the Hatch

I am beginning to know this process well.
Our third hatch of the year is due and like always,
my expectations are high.
The Fox has been taking birds.
I don't count how many anymore.
So there is much at stake.

I am counting on these next hatches to keep our flock numbers high.

The next setting to hatch has been candled and put into the hatching tray where they will sit for another few days before hatching.
I removed seven eggs from forty-eight; so forty-one should still be possible from this batch.
The remaining eggs in the incubator have been cascaded down the racks, and an additional setting of twenty-eight put in.
I actually lost track of how many eggs are in there now; I'll count tomorrow.

My candling device is very effective and is worthy of building again.
It is a plain white porcelain lightfixture attached to a piece of plywood.
In between the fixture and the wood is a paint can lid.
The rest of the paint can sits over top and has a hole cut into it.
This works great for candling eggs, but has also served as a brooder heater.
Cheap as dirt.
But works perfectly.

At the late stages of incubation, it is fairly simple to find the dead eggs.
The dead, or infertile eggs allow light to pass through while the developed eggs do not.
This does not mean that all of the opaque eggs are still living,
but they will mostly be still alive.
Whether or not they hatch is another matter.

I have developed a little habit lately, when the Fox strikes.
If I am not collecting a setting of eggs already, I will start one right away.
That way, for every bird that we lose to a predator, many more will takes it's place.
It's a little insane, but I am determined to keep the flock numbers as high as I can.

Keeping lots of eggs for setting means that there have been fewer for the kitchen.
When I collect the eggs, I screen them for problems and the best eggs go to the incubator.
Once there are more laying hens, I should be able to supply the kitchen with eggs,
as well as feed my maniacal desire to bring chickens into being.
Let's hope.


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