It seems like lately on the farm we have spent every free weekend processing chickens and ducks and turkeys and rabbits. It had been a while since we fired up the incubators and started cookin a fresh batch of babies, so we starting collecting eggs. Lots of eggs.
Pictured above are most of the eggs that we started incubating about a month ago. We had duck, chicken, guinea, and turkey eggs all ready to go. The cardboard slats under the eggs are my own crazy invention to keep the eggs from rolling around on the trays and to make it easier to turn them by just rolling them over the slats 3 times a day.
I should note that we threw the turkey eggs in there just for the heck of it. Right now we don't have a tom old enough to service our two remaining broad breasted white ladies. We thought what the heck, maybe we would end up with an immaculate Turk-ception!
First to hatch were the chickens. We have kind of a nice system set up for hatching now. When we bought the farm, the previous owner left us this wonderful cabinet incubator that works great. The only problem is that it is completely enclosed, so come hatch time we cannot see what's going on. Plus, I have a completely unfounded theory that the little ones need some light to find their way out of their shells. So when hatch time comes around, all the eggs are moved to our styrofoam Hovabator where we can monitor their progress. It's also nice because we can stagger hatches if we want to and use the Hovabator just when it's time for lockdown.
We ended up with 42 mixed chicks. All these chicks were all fathered by our TSC white broiler rooster who grew up to be big as a house. Their moms were our Ameraucana and gold and silver laced Wyandotte girls. We are hoping by mixing the breeds we can get a happy medium of chicks that grow at a fast but healthy rate.
I cannot get over the color variety we got. The rooster is totally white, and we did get some little yellow chicks that will take after him, but we also got these speckle-faced chicks...
And a bunch of black chicks with just a yellow spot on their head. It'll be neat to see how they all turn out.
They very quickly outgrew our small inside brooder so we moved them out to a cage in the poultry house with plenty of space....
...and a portal to hell!!
Just kidding, but that infrared brooding light is hell to try and take pictures with.
After another week, the duck and the guinea eggs were ready to hatch. We have never had any luck hatching off season ducks. We always get great hatch rates in the spring then next to nothing any other time of the year. That was certainly the case with this hatch. We only ended up with 3 ducklings. Two of which were male and one of those males has some crazy deformity thing going on that reminds me of spina bifida of the skull and I swear I saw part of a toe handing off the back of his head before the fluff dried. I think he'll be ok, but what the heck are we gonna do with a potentially handicapped drake?!
We did end up with 7 guinea keets. These guys will really come in handy keeping the tick population in check. We plan on setting up a coop for them in the back pasture once we finish fencing back there so they can act as pest control. That baby guinea may be cute now, but they get ugly and super noisy very quickly. In my opinion, the farther away those guineas live from the house, the better!