Chick time is coming early

I got an incubator this year, so that I can hatch some new chickens.  I wanted one that I could hatch 50 eggs in.  I originally was planning on buying a Brinsea – they have a nice 50-egg model, but it’s like $500-$600.  That ended up being out of my budget. I went on the Backyard Chickens forums, and some people were recommending the Hova-bator Genesis 1588.  It ended up being a little over $200 – I bought an automatic egg turner with it.  It’s got digital settings for heat and it’s easy to set the humidity. With the egg turner we can just set it and not mess with it very often.

Here’s my new incubator. It has the automatic egg turner inside.
egg turner
Here’s the egg turner. You can get different ones for different kinds of birds. This was the one for chicken eggs.

My plan was to start hatching in mid-April, so that we would have warm enough outside temps by the time the chicks come that they wouldn’t be brooding in the house very long.  I opened up the incubator box last week to make sure the thing works, and to set it up.  The incubator comes preset to the correct temperatures, and for humidity you just put water into certain water channels inside it, depending on what humidity level you need. It came with very clear instructions. While reading, I found that they recommend you do a test hatch first, with a small number of eggs, to make sure you don’t need to tweak anything before you try hatching a bunch of eggs, or expensive eggs.  It turns out that we have time to do a test hatch.

I grabbed 8 eggs this week and they are sitting in the incubator. They should hatch April 12th.  Here they are in the incubator:

incubator with eggs
My test hatch – there are 7 varying shades of brown eggs, and one white egg from Escape Artist (my hen who likes to escape all the time).

So far the temp has been hovering in the 99.5-99.8 degree range, which I believe is a good level. We will see if we need to tweak it depending on how this hatch goes. If all goes well I will do my large hatch after April 12th.  I will be hatching eggs from our chickens, and I also found someone near here that has Black Copper Maran (chocolate shelled eggs) and Olive Egger eggs for sale – I spoke with them and they said they should have some in mid April that I can buy.  We also have a friend who has Easter Eggers (blue eggs), and he’s going to save some eggs for me for that week as well.  I’m excited to possibly get some hens that lay other colors of eggs.

I feel like we are a baby bird factory.  With the ducks we are brooding, and now chicks in the incubator, and another (larger) batch of chicks later, we are very busy.

Our ducks are growing very fast.  We’ve had them a week as of today. I believe they have doubled in size.  I have changed their brooder box 4 times – the first two times because they needed more room, and the last two because they are slobs.  We’ve been using cardboard boxes, two taped together, with plastic garbage bags taped around the bottom (to keep the floor dry).  Ducks love to play in their water.  A lot.  I was using a chick waterer at first, and then I devised a waterer using a disposable tupperware container – I cut holes in the lid so they can get their bills in, but not step in the water.  The waterer is sitting on a plastic tray in the brooder box.  The ducks still manage to get everything soaked.  They get water out with their bill, and then dibble it all over each other, and the plastic tray, and then they splash in the plastic tray.  So then their bedding (we’re using paper towels) gets soaked.  And they poop a lot just like chickens. So we are changing bedding a few times a day.  I think I will enjoy the chicks more this time because they are not as messy as the ducks.  Chicks poop a lot but they don’t play in their water nearly as much.

Here are some newer pictures of the ducks, I think they were upset I was taking pictures here, I woke them up from a nap and they were freaking out a little.


We were at Tractor Supply today picking up animal food, and saw that they had chicks and ducklings in.  We are hatching our own chicks this year, but we saw the ducks and decided to get some.  My husband has talked about wanting ducks for a couple years, and I thought it would be fun to add some ducks to our farm. We got 12 Pekin ducks.  Pekins are supposed to be really good for both eggs and meat, but I’ve heard they are very tame and can follow you around the yard like a little cloud of dogs. I like the idea of that. Ducklings peep a lot just like chicks, and brooding them is very similar to brooding chicks. They also eat chick starter, and can be fed and housed with chickens. We’ll probably give them their own space, but time will tell. Below are some pictures of our new little fuzzy flock:

ducks 2

ducks 3

Little cuties.
sleeping but upset i disturbed them
They soaked their first brooder box (a cardboard box) with their water drinking, so they got a new plastic bin brooder box tonight. They seem happier, although they weren’t so happy when I came to take a picture. You can see a couple with open beaks complaining here.