First Big Chicken Hatch – Day 1


Last year I incubated a dozen blue-green eggs I bought from the poultry swap. I had to turn them manually because my turner couldn’t accommodate both quail and chicken egg sized racks at the same time (boo!). Only three hatched, two were roos, and I was left with a single Ameraucana hen who is now the White Chicken.

This time we are doing things properly and using the egg turner. Somehow, I have coordinated three types of fertile eggs for this hatch, and we have a completely full tray of 42 eggs.

First I have black Old English Game bantams which are the small white eggs. There are ten of these and they were from the same person who I got Tiny Chicken from. They were free, but there will be trades happening in return for them later on. Considering the size of the birds these eggs came from, they’re pretty big! We all know how much I love Tiny Chicken and I wouldn’t mind a couple more like her. She is small enough to be allowed to free range without damaging plants,  and she has an awesome personality.

Then we have the light brown eggs, which are from a mixed flock of Cochin and Light Brahma that I met at the farm I was getting my new Standard Rex breeders from. They were $10 per dozen and I’m only setting 20 of them because of space constraints. They are a beautiful mix of colors and should be interesting birds. Cochins are the large breed from China that spurred “Hen Fever”, the chicken fad that swept across America and Britain in the 1850’s, inspired by Queen Victoria’s own aviaries.

The gorgeous dark brown eggs in the middle are Welsummer or Welsumer eggs. They were purchased from a nearby breeder and cost $30 per dozen. Yes I know. The eggs are rather small and from young birds, so that may be an issue. When I was picking them up the seller also mentioned that her birds are quite small, and I’m not sure if that’s standard for the breed. The Welsummers that I had last year seemed around the same size as my other large fowl, so we’ll see how it turns out. I do like those dark brown eggs!

Of course, there’s no way I can keep all these chickens. My plan is to sell or trade off almost all of them and only keep a few of the nicest hens to refresh my stock. The Welsummers can be sexed by color and I’m hoping to successfully feather sex the Cochins at hatch. The females should have longer wing and tail feathers than the males. This may work with the bantams too, I’m not sure. I’m also not sure what I’ll do with all the males. I’ll have to keep some for at least a little while to know if my feather-sexing technique has worked. Nobody will want to buy them, that’s for sure. And if they start to crow, they have to go.

I did try to find more Ameraucana hatching eggs, but the only person who responded to my ad was selling them for $40 per dozen. For that, I can buy a pair of ready to lay Ameraucana pullets at the poultry swap. No thanks.





Quail Chick Bonanza

DSC_0001Quail chick time again! I have lots of people interested in quail so I finally just filled the incubator to capacity with quail eggs, which is 120. Today was hatch day and 69 zippy little chicks were out and about and transferred to the brooder. Many more eggs have pipped so I won’t know the final count for a couple more days, but overall I’m very happy with the way this hatch has gone.

DSC_0004I’ve hatched quite a few batches of chicks thus far, so I know a little bit more about the conditions that are right for Coturnix. This time I had the incubator set a little bit lower, about at 36.5 to 37 degrees Celcius, while normally 37.5 degrees is recommended. I’ve noticed that when it gets a bit too warm in there I get a few chicks with problems like splay legs or bulging eyes. I had read somewhere that quail do best with it a bit cooler, and this has worked amazingly well. There are no sick chicks yet in this group and everyone hatched right on time except for a handful who hatched yesterday. I’ll keep the temperature lower from now on.

DSC_0008I have a very nice assortment of colors this time. Many A&M Whites of course, since my males right now are predominantly white; but also lots of Tuxedo, Tibetan, Silver and Pharaoh. Amazingly there were only two males that I know of hatched out of my last batch a few months ago, so those were the males I had to use to fertilize these eggs.

I’m hoping to get some more males this time (never thought I would say that!) with more variety of color so I can balance things out a bit. I enjoy all the colors but I prefer the wild type/Pharaoh as they can be easily sexed by plumage color quite early on. Every other color (except Italian) can only be sexed once the males begin to crow. No way I would attempt vent sexing on such tiny birds.


Empty eggshells from hatched chicks