Quite possibly I have mentioned before about my trials and tribulations of incubating hatching eggs and feeding my chickens, but I can’t find anything in the BB & COC (Bloggers By-Laws & Code of Conduct) that restricts duplicative content or just plain rambling. So be forewarned both may be inadvertently or purposely included in this post.
It is entirely Karen’s, aka my Sweety’s, fault that I am borderline OC about incubating eggs, Last summer she brought home an LG circulated air Styrofoam incubator with automatic turner and gave it to me. When I asked her what this is for, she told me that she thought maybe Alexa, our 6 year old granddaughter, and I could have fun hatching some chicken eggs. Alexa and I did have fun and had several successful hatches last Summer and Fall.
Then late last year my psycho Step-Mother in Law, Mary (anyone that lets Xanax dissolve under their tongue then washes it down with Miller Lite is the definition of psycho) decided that I was stalking her with a high powered rifle and was planning on shooting her and her whole family. To retaliate for this unacceptable behavior on my part she repossessed that lovely little LG incubator. In her mind I’m sure this move worked perfectly and put me in my place, after all it’s been over 6 months and I still haven’t shot her or anyone else with a high powered rifle.
As a side effect of the Xanax/LG/High-Powered Rifle drama of late 2011 Karen, the above mentioned Sweety, finally decided to stop letting others profit from her talents and opened her own business. One of her early customers asked if she knew where to get any Mille-Fluer chickens. Instantly I jumped on the opportunity to satisfy that Obsessive-Compulsive yearning that had been lingering int the back of my brain all winter. I found a Great Lady on BYC that raises Mille Fleur d’Uccle chickens and ordered a dozen hatching eggs. Once those and a dozen Marans, 6 Black Copper Marans & 6 Golden Cuckoo Marans hatching eggs from The Fancy Chick were on their way (you can’t have a half full incubator) I “remembered” that I didn’t have a big incubator anymore! Karen helpfully pointed out that she didn’t think there was any way my little Brinsea would cut it for the 2 dozen expensive hatching eggs we had on the way and insisted on buying me a new incubator. In my head I was thinking, I love it when a plan comes together!, when Karen went one step further. While I was looking at inexpensive LG’s all the while kinda sorta hinting that maybe a HovaBator Genesis wasn’t all that much more, Karen insisted that her friend had told her that those Yellow Brinsea ones were the best and thats what we needed. On top of that when she went to the Brinsea website she decided that the digital would be much easier to use and ordered me a Brinsea Octagon 20 Advance.
As I have discussed here before I work very hard at trying to avoid buying commercial feed for my Chickens. Why? Well we all know that chickens are meant to be foragers and consume an omnivorous diet. Given those facts a varied and diverse diet must be better not only for their health but also for their quality of life. Eating the some old stuff out of the same old feeders just cannot be very intellectually stimulating for a chicken. In addition to my high tech foraging table, I engage in what I like to call Feed Ur Chickens Krap U Pickup or Fuck Up for short. Karen thinks I Fuck Up daily but in reality I usually only Fuck Up once a week or so. My sons do their best to Fuck Up at work whenever possible usually about 4 or 5 times a week. All of these Fuck Ups (Feed Ur Chickens Krap U Pick Up Sessions) result in quite a lot of free feed for my girls. A side effect of my chickens diet though has been loose runny stools.
In an attempt to firm their poop up a bit I am trying another technique I read about on BYC, Fermenting Feed. This technique is discussed at length on BYC’s Meat Birds Forum, basically it involves soaking whatever grain based feed your using in water that has been inoculated with yeast and or some type of acidifying bacterial culture. Most people are using a dual bucket setup with the inner bucket drilled all over to create a colander/strainer device, and inoculating with a glug or two of unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar such as Bragg ACV. This type of ACV contains “Mother” which are active bacterial cultures, these cultures ferment the feed which when eaten by the chicken help acidify the gut and boost the pro-biotic cultures in the digestive system. Or so the theory goes, all I know for sure is my girls love it. Supposedly it also boosts the protein content of the inexpensive Scratch I am fermenting and should allow me to cut back even more on the expensive lay pellets I use to supplement my Fuck Up system.
Have I mentioned that it is stinking hot here in Vegas and I am going through Orchard/Chicken withdrawal due to this unreasonable heat? No? Well I fully intend to get up early tomorrow and spend the morning modifying my greywater system, hopefully that will generate some fodder for discussion here.