We just finished up the second hatch of the year, and it was a bit disappointing. There are so many variables involved when incubating eggs, especially ones shipped across the country, and many people end up with no viable chicks at all. We started out with 28 New Hampshire eggs and 3 homegrown Olivers and ended up with 4 New Hampshire chicks and all 3 Olivers.
Shipping distance, temperature of eggs before incubation, time of year, parent’s nutrition, incubator flucuations and operator error can all play a part in how each hatch turns out.
Needless to say, 4 chicks isn’t enough to start a breeding flock, so another dozen from a different breeder will arrive this week. Most poultry breeding literature advises that only the best 10% of chicks hatched will be worth keeping, so we have a lot more work ahead of us in building up a quality flock.
Chicks from our previous hatch are getting closer to full-grown, and we’re starting to evaluate them for breeding potential. We’ll keep all the pullets until they start laying so we can decide which have the conformation and egg color that we’re looking for. But we only need one roo from each breeding group, and we won’t wait too much longer to make our choices.
It’s been raining off & on for most of the past week, and many projects and chores are on hold until the sun returns. Even though it’s almost June, sometimes an evening fire in the woodstove is just the thing to burn off the damp. Bismarck especially likes the heat, and usually relaxes in the rocking chair by the hearth.