We were fortunate enough to have one of our Barred Rocks “#5″ go broody in January. I knew this would be our best opportunity to hatch out some early chicks this year. Having never hatched chicks before I was a little concerned with the Ohio cold, but this year’s winter has been mild so I decided to take my chances. We do not have a separate brooding area so I allowed her to take over one of the nesting boxes. I guess I didn’t really have much of a choice. She found the eggs she liked at sat her butt down! I had not previously collected eggs so I allowed the eggs to pile up for a couple days in her nest. The other hens are happy to squeeze in and toss her a few. Just as well, she was happy to sit on them.
One lesson I learned the hard way was to mark the eggs. Yeah i know, to the veteran chicken keeper this must be a “duh” moment, but it took me finding about twenty eggs hiding under #5 to get this slap-in-the-face “duh” moment. I allowed her to sit on 18 of them until I could candle them after one week.
Just plug it in. Replace the lid and turn it upright so the egg shaped hole is facing up. Place the egg on the hole and it lights up like a light bulb.
The main thing to take away from this candler is that you can use whatever you have. We don’t throw a lot away so I was able to scrounge up what I needed. Oh and I forgot to mention the mercury bulb that Duke Energy was so kind to send us. (Sarcasm?)
With Mel’s help I candled again at 2 weeks to determine who would make it. Surprisingly enough, 13 eggs were found to be doing very well! It’s amazing what can happen when you just let nature take it’s course. The unfortunate 5 had all succumbed to an early demise and were examined before a proper garden burial. It’s not always pretty but death is a part of life.
On day 21 exactly from #5′s first sign of broody behavior, our first little fluff ball emerged. (Soaking wet of course.) I would have liked to let mama raise them up but unfortunately we do not have the proper facilities to keep her and the chicks safe from the other big dumb chickens clunking around. This is a backyard operation after all!
In my attempts to not be completely heartless I allowed the youngins to stay with mama for a few hours to fluff up and soak up the yolk. I am concerned about the 2 foot drop to the bottom of the coop so they were brought inside where they could get some rest and enjoy some food and water. One thing thing that I would have done differently is to place all the eggs she is to hatch under her at one time. Letting them pile up for a few days caused hatching to take a few days. Remember 21 days, exactly!
Raising chicks has been remarkably simple. Basically all we really had to do was stop collecting eggs. I encourage anyone to get involved with chickens. They are very rewarding and greatly increase our preparedness. Whether we are facing economic hard times or a complete grid down situation, we could all benefit from the ability to not only supply ourselves with chickens, but also trade with our friends and neighbors. We currently get more eggs than we could possibly eat with only eight hens and a bag of feed a month. Take into account that we let them free range in our backyard. I am thankful to our neighbors who have put up with our rooster. He can be a little long winded, but we couldn’t of done it with out him!
Currently all chicks are doing well. We have moved this first batch of chicks to live with our friends over at The Homestead Jones. They are currently constructing a coop for their backyard chickens. Please be sure and check out their blog. Be sure and “like” them on Facebook too! Preparedness is spreading! I love it!
If you have any questions, please comment below or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.