Sunday, 30 December 2012

Raising cruelty free feathers part 2

Continuing on in the raising of cruelty free feathers we left off last Sunday with the little guy resting after struggling to hatch

Well the above little fella was the only one to hatch on day 21 and as we had set the eggs late in the day we were not very concerned. Ok they will all hatch on day 22.
We started with 34 eggs in the incubator going into the last few days of the hatching process. And I am sure many of you have heard the old adage don’t count your chickens before they hatch and either afterwards for that matter.
Several hatched on day 22 the first one to hatch was not doing well and we quickly realised it had problems with its legs that could not be overcome. Of the ones that hatched on day 22 two wandered away from the heat lamp and fell asleep you see young chicks will fall asleep while walking it is very funny to see. I check on the chicks in the brooder about every ½ hour after they first go in. Of the 2 I was able to save one the other dyed from hypothermia.
Day 23 Christmas day we were greeted with another new arrival apply named Christmas. Of the first eggs to hatch all came from the incubator we stopped using. We were beginning to realise that we had problems with the thermometer and think it was registering higher than the temperature really was upon checking with another thermometer to our horror we found that this was true. This was causing an extreamly delayed hatch and weak chicks. I know what you’re thinking you should have checked the thermometers before you started. I did both thermometers where checked against a digital one and any discrepancy noted. Bieng glass thermometers the vial moved indicating the wrong temp.
By Thursday we turned off the incubator. And sadly only had 9 healthy live chicks out of the 34 eggs.
13 hatched we lost 4.
here are some photos of our 9 cute fluff balls on day 7

 You can tell the darkest one is all ready top chick
untill next week Henry

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Raising Cruelty Free Chickens

What it takes to bring you Cruelty Free Feathers
Well I sit here in the darkness of morning on day 21 D day.
This all started 4 weeks ago when I started collecting eggs to be hatched. The eggs where collected daily from our chickens for 7 days. Only those clean enough from the nest and the right size. Not to small not too large and no odd shapes. These eggs where numbered as to the day of collection. We raise barn yard chickens here at Mountain Feathers. The resulting Hens and roosters are a Heinz 57 mix never quiet knowing what they are going to look like. This creates unusual and different feathers for our customers. I checked the incubator when I first woke up I could hear faint chirps coming from it. Knowing soon the first tiny pips in the eggs will emerge.
The mothers

She was in the batch of chicks photographed in my other blog post

I will not know the sex of the chicks for several weeks as I do not know how to vent sex them. This adds to the mystery and fun.
Our Incubator

Eggs In the Egg turner

Eggs removed from the turner on day 18

            For the last 21 days the eggs have been in the Incubator We started out with 2 Incubators running and about 75 eggs. 1 incubator has an automatic turning rack one did not. The eggs in the second incubator had to be turned 180 degrees several times a day. To prevent the yoke from sticking and to mimic the natural movement of the eggs by the hen.  On Day 7 or shall I say night 7 my wife and I candled the eggs. Any eggs that showed no sign of development were removed and cracked open to verify nothing had happened. We did remove a lot of unfertilized eggs on day 7 approximately 50% of the ones we started with. These where mostly from the incubator with no turner.  We won’t be using it again as we lost a lot of eggs from it the last time we used it. Part of the low % was also due to too many hens with one rooster a rooster does best with about 10 hens to deal with (All Roosters think they are Super Studs)
Our Roosters 

He is our old man rooster None of the eggs are from his harem
The bare patch on his neck is from the hens picking on him when he molted
The Young Gun

            The eggs where candled again at 14 days to check the development of the embryos we removed a few more eggs 2 that we missed the first time and one whose embryo had died. (Yes you can tell this by candling) We moved all the eggs to one incubator on day 7.
            We had set up the Incubators in the bathroom of our home (the bathroom is large) as it is the only room where the heat is turned on all the time. The incubators we use are still air incubators with a small heater to take the temperature up to 99.5 degrees f. It is easier for the incubators to maintain temperature if the surrounding air is at a constant warm temperature.60 degrees +.
            On day 13 a huge storm was forecast to hit our area with fears of the power going out and losing our eggs due to no power and no heat I caught the early ferry to town. For a bumpy ride in search of an inverter to run the incubator just in case. I returned home just in time to remove a tree from our drive way so my wife could get to work. Thank fully we never lost power so I did not get to try the inverter I did however do a test.
It is my hope to document the next 26 weeks of their lives in photos and words.
As I type this the first egg has piped. There is life small and weak starting its struggle to break free of its shell and to greet new world. 

 Well 12 hours later here it is

His Nursery is ready

For Cruelty free and other feathers