24 eggs in an incubator and today is day 9 which means I need to get my butt in gear and make a brooding pen and fix up the old coop. I was only wanting 6 hens and probably one rooster so we can have our own fertilized eggs in the future. I was reading on backyardchickens forum and pretty much everyone there says the Little Giant Still Air incubator has a hatch rate of 50-70% and then of course around half will be roosters so to get my 6 hens, I figured 24 eggs. Of course when talking to my neighbor, he said most all of the eggs he’s ever incubated hatched but he also said it seems like he gets more roosters than hens. So I have no idea how many hens we’ll end up with but I think I have another neighbor that will take some. He never had an interest before but seems to now. With my luck, he’ll change his mind, 90% of the eggs will hatch and 70% of them will be hens, leaving me with over a dozen hens and we’ll be overloaded with eggs. I candled all the eggs two days ago on day seven and I think there’s a couple of duds. I’ll have to do it again. It was late so I did it pretty quickly. Some seemed to have more veins developed than others.
For a brooder, I’m going to go with a zero electricity model. I tried to find pics on the web of the one I’ve used before but couldn’t so when I build mine, I’ll take pics and post them. It’s basically a 3 1/2″ frame, covered on both sides with insulation between them. A small stud wall basically but with 1×4’s instead of 2x4s which keeps the weight down. Then it gets four legs so that it lays flat a few to several inches up and the legs are adjustable. (unscrew and screw them back at a different height) That way when the birds get taller, the insulated roof can be raised. Then you take cloth, preferably something heavy like denim or cotton duck, attach it and cut into vertical strips so the chicks can walk in and out from under it. It’s basically the same concept as when they get shipped in a box as day old chicks. They self heat the area if small enough. I used this system when I bought 24 red ranger type meat birds and raised them before we had electricity and it worked well. In that case, I used a piece of feed bag that was white, for the bottom and had some red and green LED lights inside. The white poly feed bag material let the light shine through. That keeps the meat birds eating more and the red/green keeps them calm just like the orange heat lamp would. A bright white light is said to make them wound up and they might start fighting.
Update 9/11/2019 (bastards)
Baby chicks started hatching yesterday and I think, the last one around noon today as the rest don’t seem to be doing anything. Total of 9 chickens out of 24 eggs. Could be a number of reasons for the low hatching rate. The eggs came from large brown egg layer breeds. My neighbor doesn’t know what breeds as he bought the mixed brown egg layer special. By looking at them, I’d say one of the apparent three breeds, is Buff Orpington, another, Barred Rock and the third either Black Australorp or Big Jersey Black. Thing is, the eggs were medium-large so I think his hens are kind of young. I’ll have to ask. He has a rooster so the chances were good that the eggs would be fertile, I think. I never did candle the eggs on day 14 like I should have. I did candle a few after my daughter inadvertently unplugged the incubator and it was 10-12 hours before I noticed.
So between small eggs and incubator power loss, plus the cheapest incubator available(20 years ago), we got 9 out of 24 and one of them looks pretty weak and lacks the fuzz that the others have. No telling though. That one could be the best in the end. All I wanted was 4 hens or so anyway so I guess I got what I wanted albeit with a little disappointment.
Here’s a full size pic…
The rocks in the water dish(prior screw package) keeps them from falling on(or getting pushed) and drowning.