Patricia Whitaker

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since Feb 03, 2018
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Recent posts by Patricia Whitaker

Mike Jay, I love your housing set up!  Perfect for snowy climates!

For those in colder climates, you might consider more than one breed.  One that lays well in the winter and one that lays well in the warmer months.  

https://livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/chantecler

Chanteclers are known for good egg production in the winter months when it is  cold.   Obtain good genetics which carry this excellent egg producing gene.   I know of a group of Partridge Chanteclers who are "pumping" the eggs out right now in the winter months.  They will almost cease production in warm months.

Water is critical for good, consistent egg production.   It's difficult to maintain in the winter, I know.  I've finally gone to a small buckets of water with a livestock heating element in it to keep water unfrozen and available for each of my breeding pens.  

Typically, chickens reduce their egg laying by 10% following each molt, so keep in mind that you will eventually need to refresh your flock with new chicks.  We all fall in love with our hens, it's difficult to think about harvesting them because they have been so faithful  AND because they usually don't stop laying completely.  But their production does drop drastically as they become "elderly".   Just something to think about as you plan.  I really have a difficult time with this......I love my girls!

1 year ago
The first question about the size of the hatching eggs you are setting ~ usually pullets lay small eggs when they first start laying.  Depending on the recipe/feed ration formula ~ those eggs will increase in size, directly related to the feed ration.  Mine transition to medium in 2 weeks, with other feed rations, it has taken 2 months.  

You "can" set pullet, small eggs.   It will result in a small chick.  How big those chicks grow will depend on the nutrition of the hen 6-8 weeks before those eggs were collected for and also quality of the chick star.ter  Also, genetics impact the health and size that the chick eventually attains.  

It's best to wait until the eggs are a medium size.  My feed ration is formulated to produce medium eggs which are the ideal size for hatching.   Large eggs tend to have less fertility than medium eggs.

For best results, feed your mature birds a breeder ration 6-8 weeks before collecting eggs for hatching.  Place those eggs in an egg carton/cartons and put those in a box which is propped up on one end.  Rotate the box in the same direction, a quarter of a turn twice a day.  The ideal temperature in the room the eggs are being stored in is 55 degrees F.    If this temp is not possible with room temps, some breeders store their eggs in a wine cooler.  Room temp should not be over 76 degrees F.  

Ideal length of time to hold eggs is 11 days.  I have, however, held eggs for as long as 18 days.  The longer hold period usually results in lower fertility and/ or early deaths of some of the embryos.

Fresh pullets who have eggs transitioning to medium size will give you your best hatches.  With good genetics, good feed ration, you will get 90+% fertility and about the same for hatch rate.  

If you choose to use a small incubator, you can set eggs when you see a hen go broody, and transfer the eggs to her/under her when they are near the hatching date.  This process increases the hatch being successful since is the egg are incubated without the competition of other hens in the nest area and utilizes her as your brooder, far more efficiently than any of us could be.  

The above information is what I have learned over the past 7 years as a breeder.  I am happy to share any information ~ I've already made most mistakes that can be made.  No need for anyone else to repeat them.  
1 year ago