I ordered my first dozen baby chicks online and when they arrived, I was instantly enchanted. My new, fluffy pets quickly turned me into a card-carrying chicken addict. Prior to their arrival, it never occurred to me that I might wish to expand my flock one day, much less hatch my own chicks.
My interest in hatching began when, at four months of age, one of my babies revealed himself to be a rooster most unexpectedly. I had ordered ‘sexed’chicks, which means they were identified by hatchery experts as being female. The technique for sexing day old chicks is only 90% accurate and Mr. 10% made his presence known quite clearly.
By five months of age, the babies were no longer fluffy balls of fuzz, they were full-fledged adults with jobs to do; the ladies were laying eggs and Petunia was taking care of the ladies.
I missed the baby chick phase and the new-found knowledge that there were fertilized eggs in the nest boxes on any given day was enticement enough for me to give hatching a try. A mere five months into chicken-keeping, I ordered the first of my two Brinsea Advance Mini incubators. Within a short period of time, I outgrew the 7 egg Mini Advance incubators and upgraded to a Brinsea Octagon 20, which holds at least 20 eggs. Hey, it’s an addiction, what can I tell ya? 🙂
I have been hatching virtually non-stop since then. Not only do I view hatching as a way to add new breeds to my backyard flock and new colors to my egg basket, but I see it as a wonderful way to teach my daughters about the miracle of life and the importance of knowing the source of their food. Hatching eggs is habit-forming, educational, rewarding and exhilarating. It can also be disappointing and challenging at times, but most of all, it’s fun.
Since I just received a new shipment of fertile hatching eggs in the mail, I thought you might like to tag along for the three week journey with me this time. There’s really not that much to it, the chick does most of the work. There are a few things that require monitoring to various degrees depending on the incubator used, but for the most part, the chick takes care of the heavy lifting.
The purpose of this series is to share what I know with you about the process. I hope that you will share in a little bit of the anticipation and excitement of hatching chicks and perhaps even give it a try yourself if you haven’t already. There are some basic considerations to take into account before delving into hatching, more on that next time.