Friday, March 23, 2018

Dry incubation: Raise your hatch rate by not adding water

Since it's chick hatching season I thought I'd talk about an incubation method that I've used for several years. It's called dry incubation and is pretty much exactly what it sounds like...incubating eggs without adding water to the water wells of the incubator.

I know this is completely against all the incubation instructions you've read up until now, but many people who had low hatch rates switched to this method and swear their hatch rate skyrocketed. That is exactly why I first tried this incubation method years ago and I still use it all the time, although I do sometimes hatch chicks the regular way as a comparison.

Dry incubation method for chicken eggs

The traditional incubation method calls for the humidity inside the incubator to be 40-50% during the first 18 days. With dry incubation you're going to allow the humidity level to get as low as 15% before you add any water. With both methods you're going to raise the humidity to around 60-65% during the lockdown period.

Friday, March 16, 2018

How to add a rooster to the flock

I have always had roosters in my flock of chickens, but many people start out with just hens. Since you don't need a rooster for the hens to lay eggs, and many people get chickens just for the eggs, this makes a lot of sense.

Often the decision to add a rooster is made after the flock of hens has been established. One reason you may decide to add a rooster to an established flock of hens, is to protect the hens. A rooster will alert the hens of any danger approaching, giving them a chance to hide. A rooster will often confront a predator to protect his flock of hens, thus sacrificing himself for them. Also, by adding a rooster to the flock, the hens eggs will then be fertilized. You'll need fertilized eggs if you want to hatch chicks

Adding a rooster to a flock of hens safely

If you decide to add a rooster into an already established flock, things can get a little tricky. The head hen doesn't always adapt well to the sudden drop in her ranking. Some hens don't appreciate a rooster trying to ahem...'romance' them. It can just generally upset the pecking order.

To avoid upsetting the hens too much, a gradual introduction is the best approach. Allowing them to acclimate to each other slowly can reduce squabbles and make the whole process go more smoothly. I choose one of these two methods each time that I want to introduce a new rooster to my flock. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Oven baked eggs (instead of pan frying)

We're getting close to that time of year when the hens are laying soooo many eggs every day, that you just don't know what to do with them! I end up making eggs for breakfast every weekend morning, which can be a lot of work if all 5 of us are here.

An easy way to make a whole lot of eggs at once is to bake the eggs in the oven. This is also super convenient if you are cooking for a bunch of people since 1 batch is 12 eggs! It gets better can also bake scrambled eggs and poached eggs in the oven!

Make oven baked eggs instead of frying them. An easy way to make a dozen eggs at once!

This is super simple so I'm just gonna jump right into the 3 different recipes. You'll only need a muffin tin, some cooking spray, eggs and whatever seasonings you prefer. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Guinea hens: Everything you need to know

I've been raising guineas since 2009. My first set of guinea fowl was a trio of 2 guinea hens and 1 guinea cock. Since then I've had as many as 80 guineas at one time. Over the years I've become pretty well known locally as 'the guinea farmer' and because of this I get asked a lot of questions about them. Luckily, I have answers!

guinea hens

Everything you need to know about Guinea hens

Here is my list of most commonly asked questions about guinea fowl and specifically guinea hens, breeding and egg laying.

Do guinea hens lay eggs year round? 

No. Guinea hens do not lay eggs in the winter. They start laying for the year in spring and continue through summer into fall, stopping when the days get noticeably shorter.

When do guinea hens start laying eggs? 

Guineas start laying in their first spring as an adult. If you get keets this year, they probably won't begin to lay eggs until next year. Occasionally I'll have young guineas drop 2-3 eggs around December right as they mature. These first
eggs aren't always fertile and very rarely do they hatch. 

How often do guinea hens lay eggs? 

A guinea hen will lay an egg almost every day during her laying season except when broody. That's 6-7 eggs a week.