Wednesday, 13 April 2016

101 Hatching plans for new chickens

Yesterday we took delivery of six hatching eggs. These aren't eggs that are about to hatch chicks, they are eggs for us to incubate so that chicks will hatch in three weeks time. Last week we collected a second-hand Brinsea Eco incubator, which for us as beginners will be fine. It will give us the chance to learn how to raise chicks from eggs without being overwhelmed with too many chicks all at once.

So we have four eggs that should be fertile from Jack and the lovely Cream Legbar rooster that was with us for too short a time (you can read about him here) and six that we bought from a helpful seller from Llandrindod Wells in Mid Wales. 
The hatching eggs were purchased here.
We have decided to raise some white chickens that are large birds when they are fully grown but we don't plan to keep many to mature as we will have them as meat birds that are dispatched after just a few months.

I've come to realise over the last few months that I rather like white birds. I'm not sure why, perhaps because it makes them easy to see in the garden or perhaps I think of doves of peace when I see them, but whatever the reason, white birds are definitely my favourites at the moment. I have no doubt however, (because I can be a fickle old girl) that I will prefer a different colour bird before too long.

Mr J said yesterday that he'd be happy if our flock was anything up to 25 strong, because now we are more familiar with the routine and the whys and wherefores, we know that we can look after this many birds and still offer them the kind of free-ranging (& slightly pampered) life we would choose for our food to have.

I have got into the rhythm of mucking out of their houses daily with a deep clean once a week and now I've learnt not to try to do it the second we let them out in the morning, so that the houses have a chance to air a little before I get too close to them, it's a simple and easy task.

We currently have 8 chickens, so we can start to think about what we'd like to add to the flock. Certainly some white birds, like the ones we hope to hatch in three weeks time, but perhaps also a selection of hybrid birds that are bred as good layers would boost our egg count. The Cream Legbars (CLB) are lovely and we look forward to having their blue eggs (it shouldn't be too long before they start to lay), but a couple of Bluebelle or Wyandotte crossbreeds may also be nice. It would also be useful to have a couple of hens from a breed that goes broody easily, so that they could hatch some eggs for us.

Call me romantic (or foolish), but I think there is something rather nice about having a mother hen raise a clutch of chicks and to be able to observe what happens naturally rather than raise chicks in a box or crate with a brooder providing warmth.

We secured a second hand shed a couple of days ago and now just need to work out how on earth we will get it back to the smallholding. It's too large to go into our vehicle, so it's time to start asking family, friends and neighbours if we could use a van, horsebox or pickup truck. This will be converted into a chicken shed, with perches and nesting boxes and will house the whole flock once they are integrated.

It's taken quite a long time for the young CLB to become part of Jack and Diesel's gang. Those two older birds have been together for a couple of years or more and are best buddies, but I've noticed recently that they spend increasing amounts of time with the CLB. Diesel remains leader of the group, but it will be interesting to watch for changes as and when new members of the flock are introduced.

What are your favourite breeds? Can you recommend any breeds to avoid because of bad temper or excessive flightiness? Or breeds that go broody quite readily?

1 comment:

  1. I've got 2 silkies to brood. I've gone for rare breeds in the incubator-marsh daisies but my ultimate favourite is an Orpington. We've had buff, brown and black but you can get white. They're friendly, the feathers feel like silk, prolific layers and great for meat. Saying that, I have none ;) the other good ones are ones you can sex-link so white Sussex hens and a Rhode Island Red rooster. I could talk about chickens all day :)

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