Hatching Eggs, Sexing and Raising Chickens Successfully
Learn all about chicken
breeds for laying chickens, hatching eggs,
sexing and raising
chickens successfully. Good egg laying chicken breeds for
Spring is here so its
time to prepare for fall and next winter. Yes, if you are a serious
homesteader or farmer, you are looking that far ahead. You are breeding
cattle that will be born 9 months from now, planting crops that will be
harvested 4-6 months from now and you are gathering chicken eggs that
will fill your freezer for winter food.
I Hate Chickens!
Honestly I hate chickens. I really do.
They are predator bait. If you never had a raccoon or fox on your
place, buy one chicken and you will have them every night. They poop
everywhere, they have lice... I hate chickens!
Raising Chickens and Some Good Laying Chickens for Eggs
said, I have some
Orpingtons and Bantam
Cochins . I have a 4 year old
granddaughter so I also have some very nice Americana in the
beautiful black you have ever seen. The chicken breeds I have won't be
what someone else would choose. Let's look at why I have the chicken
breeds that I do.
the years I have
found that in my
climate, in my living conditions, that the Orpingtons out-last, out-lay
and out-produce any other chicken breeds I have tried.
excellent laying chickens. I have tried
everything from the very pretty Speckled
Sussex to the Australorp,
Island Red, New
and many of the
Rock varieties. I
do like the Barred Rock,
it does seem to work very well also and the young Barred Rock roosters
are the best fryers I have ever tasted.
and all, through
wet seasons and
floods, bitter winters where the cows' tails, ears and hooves
off and summer heat that leaves the cattle and
horses standing under a
tree sweating like they have run for a day, the
Orpington breed is
one that has shown me the survival skills and egg laying production I
have the very large
show strain of
blues simply because I prefer that variety. They are not only
eye-appealing for me personally, but also have the weight I want for
As laying chickens they lay very well all year round
although they do not lay
the large eggs some desire. They also store more fat than any chicken
have ever butchered. This is wonderful for winter survival and for
saving back for broths and so on in your cooking.
Laying Chickens and
that Make Good Mothers I
keep the Bantam Partridge
Cochins because I have found them to be, not only
wonderful laying chickens, but
the best mothers I can find.
Last year I loaned out
my flock to
friend that raises many varieties as well as quail and pheasant for a
living. She said that all of my birds would raise quail and she had a
hard time finding a hen that would do that. I left her a few as a
thank-you gift. She has since raised quail, pheasant, guinea and
chickens with those hens.
Laying Chickens and Chicken Breeds that are Good Forages
you want your
laying chickens to
help keep the bugs down, you need a breed that can forage. The chicken
breeds I have chosen forage well and grass-hoppers
never take over my gardens. I also keep a few Blue standard Cochins
around as setters and for yard ornaments.
Everyone I think has that one
chicken breed they don't do much with breeding-wise they just like to
look at it. The Blue Cochin is that for me. Mothers yes, layers no,
meat birds, no, too slow to develop. Eye candy.. for me? Yes!
Laying Chickens and Breeding
Once you pick your chicken breed,
please do some research for your
laying chickens. Not only on the
breed itself, but also on the strain you are buying. Everyone breeds
for different things so one person's Barred rock my have fast gain and
lay well but the next person may only breed for egg production or for
meat. Ask questions before you buy.
A chicken is not just a chicken and
unlike most animals pedigrees are not kept. Cross breeding is common.
Most Orpington people will toss in a Cochin every now and then to keep
the "skirts" and so on. So ask about what you are buying to see if that
strain will suit your needs.
Buying Day Old Chicks or Hatching your own Chicken Eggs?
Buying eggs vs. buying chicks. Buy chicks, plain and simple - don't buy
I have been on a
waiting list for
3yrs for some blue
Orpington eggs and I'm happy to have them. I drove to pick them up.
When you ship eggs you won't
get a good hatch. Then you don't know
you are getting.
Out of my 42 eggs only
will hatch. Out of that 50% will be
males in theory. They are the blue variety so in theory 25% or more
will be black, or splash since the lady had a splash rooster running
around in the yard and a few splash hens. That's another 25% Out of 42
eggs the chances of me getting 12 blues are average, about 6 of those
will be hens. That's out of 42 eggs I will get 6 blue hens. That's if
you believe in math!
You don't want to know what I paid for
those chicken eggs! Maran eggs have sold for 60 and 80 US dollars a
piece only to find they don't hatch or the variety are poor layers.
Eggs in general are a waste of time and money unless they came from
your own farm. If at all possible buy day-old chicks; you know what you
Laying Chickens and Hatching Chicken Eggs
Now that you have chicken eggs you
need to hatch the eggs you are getting
so next year you also have more laying chickens. I have seen many home
made incubators. I have seen hatches from Styrofoam coolers to frying
If you want to guarantee your hatch
spend the money on the hovabator
with the egg turner. Its about 80.00 on eBay or about 150.00 -200 from
a hatchery or poultry supply. I got mine on eBay. I fill it with water,
plug it in and Poof! I have chicks in 21 days. When I travel I can put
my eggs in ... set the temp and leave home for 3 weeks. No worry, no
stress and chicks a week after I get home. I love it.
The major concern of any electric
incubator is power outages. What happens when a storm comes and you
have no power for hours? Your Styrofoam incubator is going to hold
heat. Set it into your gas oven and the warmth of the pilot light will
keep it warm. If you don't have a gas oven go for the blankets. If you
have a yogatherm, use that.
You can use a frying pan. Don't laugh! I
have seen people actually go through a full hatch using a cast iron
skillet and a towel to cover. Heat up the skillet to 100 degrees, put
your eggs in it and cover then place in your gas oven with a high pilot
light. It does work.
ovens are a must
living. If you have chicks that have grown well enough you put out and
then it rains and the darn things get wet and look dead. Put them on a
cookie sheet and place in the oven with out turning it on. Wait about
20-30 minutes and Poof! You pull out a cookie sheet of very dirty but
alive and peeping baby chicks.
My kids and I used to laugh because the
chicks would look dead. Their legs would be sticking up in the air and
they would be stiff as a board. We put them on the cookie sheet and
stuck them in the oven. Then out popped the done chicks. Alive and
got off track
there! We need to
hatch those chicken eggs before we can save the half-drowned chicks in
oven. DO NOT wash eggs
you plan to
hatch! You will drown them.
Seriously, eggs have pores and water gets into pores. If an egg is
dirty don't use it for hatching. Wash it and eat it. If you can't tell
the small end from the large end of the egg, don't use it.
If the egg
is too large or too small, eat it. My granddaughter loves to sort the
eggs and she is meticulous about it. There is an art to it and you will
get the feel after you toss out the same rotten egg time after time.
Laying Chickens and Sexing Chickens' Eggs - An Unconventional
Method that Works!
trick is sexing chickens when they are still in the egg. Some of us
want laying chickens for eggs, some want meat birds. You can sex an
egg. First you have to be
someone that can. Not everyone can witch water, not everyone can sex an
First get a needle on a string, or
your necklace. Ask it "show me a girl" see what happens. Then "show me
a boy" see what happens. If you
are someone that can, then the needle or what ever you use will go in a
straight line, or a circle to show you.
Hold the needle over each egg
and ask "what is it" and if it moves you will know. I told a friend
about this a year ago and she claims a 90% correct rate of hatch.
I did this for years
on my horses
sell the foals before they were born. I was 100% correct. I also used
Apple Cider vinegar to encourage female offspring but that's another
story. It does work, however!
your eggs chosen
and then make sure
the air sack is tilted up. Once our chicks hatch you have 48 hours
before you have to feed or water so don't panic and take them out to
soon. Don't "help" them by peeling the shell off either.
Nature has its
reasons and if you help that chick how, you will be doctoring it later.
If it dies now, you are better off. You only want the healthy ones. I'm
not saying I haven't held many chicks in my hands as they hatched and
maybe altered the shell a bit by rotating it in my hand. I'm saying
don't peel it off. You can also break blood vessels that way and your
chick will bleed to death.
start to hatch the best
thing for you to do is go for a long car ride. Don't look, just go
away. I know its hard, but do it. I have to leave the house because I
can't do it any other way. I get to excited, so, I have to banish
Raising Chickens from Day Old Chicks
comes the hard
part, keeping chickens
alive and predator free for the first month. I start with a good chick
growing mash. Yes, you can make your own but why bother when for $9.00
you can have it at your finger tips. If you want to make your own use
corn meal, finely chopped grass or alfalfa and mix that with some beef
not pork fat. Chicken fat also works. Put a bit of sorghum molasses in
the water the first few days it will give them a boost. A bit of warmth
from your broody hens or your RED heat lamp and you're off...
you want Cornish
Game hens feed them
a lot of oatmeal and milk. Don't worry if it's a boy or girl. Most of
your hens you buy in the store aren't old enough to actually be sexed
yet by the average farmer. Just feed it well and never let the feed
pans go empty that first month. If Cornish hens, never let them go
empty. At 6-8 weeks you have your small table hens/roosters. At 8-12
weeks your fryers and at 4 months your roasters. That brings us how to caponize
chickens. This will be my next entry.
By Gypsy, our resident
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