Sometimes it is hard to roll with the punches while farming. That is one of the reasons that we wanted to be a diverse farm. We have cattle, pigs, goats (for dairy and pets), chicks, and turkeys plus we do vegetables. This makes it a bit easier, if it is a wacky weather year and vegetables are struggling maybe the animals can pick up some of the slack.
But this year it is the animals that are having the problems–birds specifically. We were planning on ordering chicks this year, layers and broilers. But when the news of the the avian flu hit we decided to stay as self contained as possible. Minnesota where we live is having such an issue that 4H has decided that no poultry will be shown at any of the county fairs or the state fair.
So we pulled out our incubator and decided to hatch our own. We bought it last year when we first got turkeys and tried a batch in the fall only to discover that the afternoon sun was shining in our basement window and bringing the temp way too high. We were not successful. This year we made sure no sun was coming in and bought a digital thermometer. And this year–success.
It is actually really cool watching chicks hatch. First they peck a hole through the membrane inside the egg, then the first chips appear on the outside of the egg, see above picture.
Then they start to peck in a circle around the egg. Once they have completed that they push until they are out. It takes quite a long time, sometimes over 8 hours. We leave them in the incubator until they are dry.
Then we have this.
Right now they are living in our downstairs bathroom. We didn’t have as high of a success rate as I would have liked but we had too much temperature fluctuation in the beginning, then somehow the incubator was plugged into a different outlet that we didn’t know wasn’t working, so the temp dropped way too much near the end. We will see if anymore hatch and on Monday start another batch. It only takes 21 days, the trick is to monitor the temperature (101-102) and turn the eggs every 12 hours (skip the first day and the last 2). It is a very rewarding experience, even with the mistakes. Such is life.