Category Archives: Incubator

Look what I found!

Digging around in the barn for something I decided to see what was in the loft and lo & behold look what I found!

What is this thingy?

What is this thingy?

It's a brooder!

It’s a brooder!

And it works!!

And it works!!

I had been using my Sweety, Karen’s, bird hospital cubicles as both hatcher and brooder. This practice had led me to rush my chicks into the juvenile pen after 2 or 3 weeks in order to avoid complaints about the odor. Now I can set up this brooder in the office of the new house for this season and then find it a permanent location when we move up the hill. I do need to figure out exactly how to set it up properly, temperature I get but this has a curtain that I ain’t quite sure what purpose it serves.

Two dozen eggs in the incubator.

Two dozen eggs in the incubator.

This find couldn’t have come at a better time. The half dozen eggs in the second row up from the bottom go into lockdown this friday, the next half dozen just above go into lockdown 3 days later, and finally the outer two rows go in a 4 days later. Hopefully within the next 2 weeks I’ll have a brooder full of fluffy butts and an empty incubator ready for the Cream Legbar’s and Basque hatching eggs Karen is teasing me with AGAIN.

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Barney is Stressing me out!!

As all of my loyal readers are already aware of I have a batch of Barnevelder hatching eggs that are due to hatch today. If your new here you can read about my acquisition of these eggs in here: The Carrot and The Stick

I set 16 eggs 3 weeks ago but half of them candled clear at 2 weeks leaving 8 at lockdown last Friday. Last night I noticed one pipping and lo & behold I had one cute little Fluffy Butt waiting for me when I woke up this morning!

When I left for work there were 2 more pipping the thought of which kept me totally distracted all day at work. Karen moved Barney #1 to the brooder and let me know that Barney #2 was hatching and #3 and #4 were pipped. I hurried home expecting Barney #1 & #2 to be in the brooder all fluffed up and fine but that was not to be. Barney #1 is doing great but #2 has what I believe is a prolapsed vent, which basically means its intestines were outside. Hoping it was just the umbilical I snipped it off but it is leaking yellow bile looking fluid and I don’t hold out much hope for poor #2. Barney #3 and #4 appear to be doing OK though and I have moved them into the brooder. 

Above is from right to left Barney #1 #3 & #4 . Hatching chickens shouldn’t be this stressful!

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Chickenshit

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.

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Much ado about Mulch

I started this weekend trying to fight off that wee little bugger in the back of my head that was arguin for havin a layabout weekend seein as how my sweety Karen was off an adventure with my sister Lorri. Thats Karen in the picture to the right, it was taken in the lava tubes on the Big Island of Hawaii the year our oldest son graduated from college. I love this picture of Karen because I think it truly shows that inner light that burns so fiercely in her, don’t tell her I posted it though cause she’ll kill me.

But I digress. Mulch….yup I got up early Saturday morning and went out to the UNCE orchard and saw my buddy John. He filled my truck up and smashed it down with the tractor really good so I could close the cover. He also hooked me up with the chelated iron that works in our calcareous, heavy clay, and high PH soil. Sprint 138 right around $100 for 5# but it only takes an ounce per tree of bare root size and it WORKS! I have tried everything from Ironite to Sulphur and nothing will lastingly green up plants in our terrible soil, but this stuff does!

Once I got all that mulch that John had wedged in the back of my truck out I had a fairly respectable pile. Did I break out the Garden Fork and Wheelbarrow and spread it all out? Hell no! it was frickin hot yesterday. I did plant a couple of Artichoke plants and sowed some Indian Corn seeds both of which my afore mentioned sweety, Karen, really likes. Oh I did set up my new fangled ScareCrow Sprinkler thingy, I’m hoping that this will keep the pigeons from chompin up all my sprouts.

But if not it should be worth a laugh or two watching it get unsuspecting little egg thieves like my Granddaughter Alexa. She absolutely loves the chickens and sees absolutely no conflict between her love of Katy Perry and her love of chickens. And yes she will be mad at me the first time she gets sprayed but then she will have a blast trickin everyone else into the kill zone.

SQUIRREL!

I scraped back the mulch about midway between my dripperlines to see how moist the soil is getting. These photos are from two separate rows, as can be seen the soil is moist. In fact in the area in the right hand photo it was dripping wet!

The most encouraging thing I found is in the third photo WORMS!!!!! They are a sign that I am moving in the right direction.

My greywater system has a 32 gallon rubbermaid garbage can for a surge tank, originally the washing machine we had would 3/4 fill that on every cycle. After 12 years that damn thing decided to up and die! The replacement high efficiency top loader my wife replaced it with only uses about half as much water so I’m thinking that each load is discharging about 25 gallons into the orchard with an average of 6 loads a week plus I have a sprinkler valve that comes on every other night for 1 minute which also puts in roughly 25 gallons, I estimate the orchard is getting a total 225 gallons a week. With 400 sq ft being irrigated this is a little over 1/2 gallon per sq ft. What’s all them numbers mean? I don’t know but I do know that is a whole lot less water than the same square footage of lawn takes in this wicked climate. So did I accomplish anything this weekend? You Betcha! I got a load of mulch picked up, unloaded, and spread out; I collected 3 dozen eggs 20 of which I put in my incubator to see if my cocky little Marans rooster is gettin busy; I enjoyed a nice BS session with the UNCE Orchard manager and got a bag of the right kind of Iron supplement, he also sicced me on Master Gardner Fran with whom I had a very informative discussion about what will grow during the summer to feed my chickens and finally I did squeeze in enough time to read a couple hundred pages of Dianna Gabaldon’s 6th installment of the Outlander series! What a great book, really makes you wanna be a sassenach hatin Highlander!

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April’s Fluffy Butts

Karen bought me a Brinsea Octagon 20 advance incubator a couple of months ago and I have been trying to figure it out. I had a Little Giant Styro that I was getting 80% hatch rates. This is my second hatch with the Brinsea and I am just under 50%, 7 hatched out of 15 set. My first hatch was even worse! somewhere around 30%. I was getting a bit bummed and frustrated till it dawned on me this past weekend that last year I was hatching mostly Barnyard Bastards from my own flock and this year it had been all shipped eggs. The few that I had set from my own flock in R-Com mini 3 egg incubator had been batting 1000! I had been comparing apples to oranges.

These babies hatched out April 18th & 19th from Hatching Eggs I ordered from The Fancy Chick

Orphingtons: Lavender, BBS, and Lavender

At one week

At two and a half weeks

Three Cuckoo Marans

At one week

At two and a half weeks

This final one is also a Golden Cuckoo Marans

1 week…………….two and a half weeks

Unfortunately I had sold all my roos to the local Santa Ria priest so I don’t currently have any fertile eggs. My Black Copper Marans Rooster started crowing last week though so maybe I’ll get some soon! Then I can test my new bator with fresh non-shipped eggs.

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Plum Crazy over Chickens

My first babies of the year, above is what they looked like this past Saturday when I got home from setting up my Graywater supply system. Then an hour later when I came back to check on them. It is amazing how fast some chicks hatch, last year I had several that took 7 to 10 hours. Those really tried my patience and I must admit to helping the process along several times. 
Zippin
1 hour later
Mille Fleur
Golden Cuckoo Marans
I kind of went crazy again. My wife Karen has a business, Got Birds? , here in Las Vegas that caters to exotic bird owners supply needs here in the valley. She came home last week from a seed delivery and asked me what a Mille Fleur de’Uccle chicken was, I had seen the name on backyard chickens and when I pulled up a picture Karen started oohing and awing. She then explained that this customer of hers has been looking for a pair for quite a while, in my mind that was a green light to order a dozen hatching eggs from this really nice lady on backyard chickens . While searching for those I ran across a deal to good to pass up on a dozen Marans, 6 Black Copper and 6 Golden Cuckoo.


My eggs came in the mail on wednesday and I suddenly realized that my whacko step mother-in-law had repossessed my big incubator and all I had was my little one. It only holds 3 eggs and I had just put a load of Barnyard Bastards in it on Sunday!

We had a brinsea octagon20 advance ordered but it wasn’t scheduled to arrive until next week! Luckily Karen’s friend Nicole loaned us hers. On the left you can see the tray loaded. The darker large eggs are Marans and the smaller light colored eggs are the Mille Fleur. Now the waiting begins, March 18th I will put them in lockdown and hopefully will be posting fluffy butt pics on the 20th!

           
This is my babies today, the light colored one has gone spraddle legged. That’s why she ain’t standing up, When I talked about culling I thought Karen was going to cull me. So I did some research and found this site:   Spraddle Leg Therapy

 This is Gichael with his brace on

EXTRA!!!!EXTRA!!!!EXTRA!!!!EXTRA!!!!EXTRA!!!!EXTRA!!!!EXTRA!!!!
This is what the girls left for Us this morning!!!!

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