How to choose a poultry incubator

I have been hatching my own eggs for about 12 years now and during that time I have used several different types of incubators in all different price levels. When you begin hatching eggs, choosing your incubator is very important. Most people decide purely based on price but I believe you should chose the style you prefer and then find one in your price range.

Looking into an incubator to decide which to buy to hatch chicks

The cheapest incubator you can buy (that actually works well) is about $45 and it's a still air Styrofoam model that holds around 40 eggs. The most expensive incubator you can buy is a fully automatic cabinet model that costs around $2,500 and holds a little under 600 eggs! 

As you can see, there is a lot of room between these 2 styles and that's what we are going to discuss today. Lets talk about everything incubators: still air, forced air, hygrometers, thermometers, turners and hand turning.

Related reading: Learn about incubation & hatching, terms and definitions

How to catch a chicken

I've been raising chickens for over a dozen years now and I've noticed that some chickens are really easy to catch and others are quite difficult. I have lots of chickens that will jump right up on my lap. but let them get the idea that you want to catch them and they are running like there's no tomorrow! There may come a time when you need to catch a chicken whether to check for a health issue or something else and I have a pretty easy way to do that.

Person holding chicken she caught

There are a few different ways to catch a chicken. Lots of people just wait until nightfall and grab the chicken right off the roost. Unfortunately the last time I had to catch a chicken the timing was not right to use that method. So I had to come up with something else.

I will admit that is my preferred method for catching guinea fowl though! Open the coop door after dark and just walk in and pluck the one I want right off the roost! Chickens tend to be much easier thankfully!

Avian Influenza and backyard chickens

How weird is 2022 getting? There has not been very much activity in the world of bird flu over the last few years and suddenly it's being detected in wild bird populations. Just to recap really quickly: ducks shot by hunters in South Carolina have tested positive for the Asian strain of H5N1 avian influenza. 

Chicken with mask on

Wild birds can easily transmit this disease to pet chickens, ducks and other poultry so out of an abundance of caution, many chicken keepers in the area have completely locked down their birds. Since that first duck tested positive, 2 more have tested positive, one in close proximity to the first and the other in North Carolina. Read more about those ducks here.

*sigh* Anyone else feel like 'here we go again'? At this point nobody is sure whether this is just a tiny issue that will resolve itself or if we're going to be facing a do-over of the 2015 turkey industry slaughter. Time will tell. 

Until we see exactly where we're going with this though, lets talk about some of the things we learned from past experiences with avian influenza and how to keep our flocks of chickens and other poultry safe. Lets start with the different types and behaviors of the virus. 

How to make a chicken feather wreath

The other day when I was browsing Christmas tablescapes online, I saw the cutest grapevine wreath napkin rings. The were decorated with ribbons and bells but I thought they would be amazing with some feathers on them instead. I have tons of chickens and guinea feathers that I've picked up from my backyard flocks and love to use them for crafts.

2 mini grapevine wreaths with feathers on them hanging on a pine tree outside at Christmastime. Craft tutorial.

Well, I ordered the wrong mini wreaths! They were much larger than the ones I had seen being used as napkin rings, but I decided to go ahead and decorate them anyway. Turns out, they make pretty cute decorations! 

I even used some as package tie-ons and I decorated egg cartons with others! It was a small thank you gift for those customers who have been purchasing eggs from me all year.

I'm going to attempt to write a tutorial for you here, but it's super simple so there's not much to write! We'll start with what you need:

Mini grapevine wreaths
Feathers: either purchased or rescued from where ever your chickens dropped them!
Ribbon and/or bows
Beads, bells or other adornments
Hot glue gun and glue sticks

What should you feed wild ducks?

Growing up, we used to go to the park every winter and feed the ducks. Like everyone else, we would take bags of half stale bread, uneaten crackers etc. We had no idea how bad it was for them, we just knew they swarmed us like they were starving.

Wild duck approaching person holding food

Unfortunately, bread was the worst thing we could have given them! Of course, eating bread is better than starving and often the population of ducks in local parks outgrows available resources, especially when winter comes. 

Why can't you feed ducks bread?

There are lots of reasons why you shouldn't feed bread to wild ducks and geese and the most important one is nutrition! It has calories which they might need, but practically nothing in the way of necessary vitamins and minerals. 

To ducks bread is like junk food and they would rather eat it than look for their own foods. A ducks natural foods are grasses and weeds, worms, bugs and small minnows. These are all full of healthy things that will be missing in their diet if they eat a lot of bread or crackers instead.