The Chicken Codex: Breeding a Better Bird, Chapter 3: Hatching Season is Here!

| 3/29/2017 12:25:00 PM

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It’s finally spring and time for hatching. We spent the past few months having the flock on a good breeding diet and they have been separated in their breeding groups to ensure the right roosters are in with the right hens. Know that if your hens were previously mixed with other roosters not intended for breeding, you need to wait at least two weeks after you have separated them to know for sure that the rooster they are now housed with now will be the sire of the intended chicks.

As part of our spring activities, our NPIP inspector came to the farm and tested the whole flock for Salmonella Pullorum Typhoid (P-T) and for Avian Influenza. Everyone got brand spanking new numbered leg bands as they all passed the P-T testing. Normally we should get a report on the Avian Influenza findings in a week or two. As mentioned in the previous chapter you need these tests as a breeder wanting to sell or ship stock.

Lisa banding Creve roo

Egg production has been high this year so we’ve really been fussy about the eggs we collect for hatching. When we only had a few birds to work with, we could not afford to be too choosy but now that the flock has grown, we can pass up many more eggs than we were able to before. The eggs should be good sized and not misshapen. Of course anything with cracks will not be kept. The cleaner the eggs, the better. Lots of folks talk about whether or not to wash eggs because it will damage or remove the protective coating of the egg known as the “bloom”. Ideally leave the eggs be if they are clean. In the case of rare breeds if you have only a few eggs to work with, you may have to clean some slightly soiled eggs because that’s all you have to work with. I go the warm soapy water route with cleaning and rarely have bacterial growth issues that affect the hatch. Some other producers go to the length of using Tek-Trol disinfectant for egg sanitizing, especially for eggs that are from outside farms. I produce all my own hatching eggs so I am comfortable without it but, it is a personal preference. In all cases never use cool water because that will cause the pores of the eggs to draw in bacteria and the problems that go with.

You want your hatching eggs as fresh as possible but you can collect eggs up to two weeks of age and still expect a decent hatch if the flock was on a good diet and the eggs were handled and stored properly. For our needs I like to hatch eggs that are 10 days old or less. If I ship eggs, they are no older than one week.

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