4 biggest incubation mistakes

It's almost chick time! As spring gets near many of us like to hatch our own chicks instead of buying them from the feed store. Whether you're starting with your first incubator or you're an old pro at incubating chicks there are a few mistakes you can make, that can be disastrous for your hatch. Knowing what to pay the closest attention to, can be the difference between a successful hatch and heartbreak.

Fatal mistakes hatching chicks

I've been hatching my own chickens for about 10 years now. I started by making my own incubator, which is easier than it sounds. Within a few months I needed more space so I moved up to 2 styrofoam incubators. I hatched chicks, ducks, quail and guineas using those for a few years before moving on to small Brinsea incubators. Another year with those and I moved on to 1 then 2 cabinet incubators and I've learned quite a bit in all those years of hatching! Here are the 4 biggest mistakes I've made.

These are no ordinary mistakes though. These are the ones that end badly every single time. The definite worst of the worst....

How to blow out an egg

I have a small collection of hollow eggs on my kitchen counter. They each have sentimental value to me, like the first egg from my cuckoo Marans pullet, one from my porcelain silkie and several from other favorite hens. I even have a two tone guinea egg! When I decided to keep these eggs I had to hollow them out so they wouldn't spoil. I decided to blow out the eggs so I could keep them.

Hollowed out eggshells as decorations or keepsakes

I really thought it was going to be difficult, but it wasn't. After all, people have been hollowing out and decorating eggs for over 60,000 years! Of course back then they used ostrich eggs and did more carving than coloring, but the idea remains the same. 

You'll only need a few things to blow out an egg:
Thumb tack or corsage pin
Thin nail or toothpick
Rubber mallet or lightweight hammer
Handheld air pump (optional)

The legend of the cock egg

Every once in awhile when I collect eggs from the coop I find a miniature egg. It looks exactly like a normal sized egg, but tiny. Of course we all know it's simply a really small egg. A glitch in the system of an inexperienced layer. Back around the 14th century though, it was believed to be a far more dangerous thing. It was thought that a rooster had actually laid the egg and that if this cock egg was incubated under the right circumstances, it would hatch a rooster-dragon beast!

Legend of the cock egg

Of course the right circumstances had to do with a toad incubating it, which seems highly unlikely but let's continue anyway. A cock egg is the tiny, often yolkless egg we would call a fart egg, fairy egg, wind egg or witch egg. It truly is just a glitch in the reproductive cycle of a hen or more often, a pullet. It is often yolkless though sometimes it does have a tiny yolk. These mini eggs are edible. 

 What is a cock egg?

Legend has it that these tiny eggs were actually laid by the rooster. It sort of makes sense since fairy eggs aren't always the same color as the regular eggs the hen lays, so it would make a farmer wonder where it came from. Now I'm not sure how it went from "I think the rooster laid an egg" to "it's going to hatch and kill us all" but cock eggs were not something to be taken lightly! In fact, in 1474 a rooster was actually put on trial for laying an egg.

I swear I'm not making this up! A rooster was put on trial and found guilty of laying an egg.

Why you need a rooster in your flock

I have roosters in my flock. I always have. I like them actually, although many people prefer to just raise hens. Of course you don't need a rooster in your flock for your hens to lay eggs, but there are many reasons why you might want one.

Then again, there are a few reasons why you might not want one. Like the crowing.

Why you need a rooster

Many people don't like the crowing much. Rooster crowing doesn't bother me, it's not that loud after all. Except for the crowing contests, but that's a different story. Plus, I'm out in farm country so nobody really cares about crowing out here. Most of the neighbors aren't even close enough to hear it! Of course if you live in town you may not even be allowed to have a rooster.

If you are allowed to have a rooster where you live you've probably contemplated whether you need one in your flock or not. Trust me, you do! I like to think of my rooster as the coop boss. He takes care of things for me because I can't spend my whole day out there. He has 4 main tasks that he performs for me.

13 reasons not to raise chickens

Obviously I have chickens and love them, but chicken keeping isn't for everyone. I had a lot to learn when I first started raising chickens and I really wish someone would have told me what I was getting into! There are quite a few reasons why you shouldn't raise chickens and if you're not aware of (and prepared for) the issues ahead of time, it can make the whole experience rather miserable.

Why you shouldn't raise chickens

I wrote 14 Reasons why you should not raise guinea fowl back in 2014, they were not a real popular type of poultry back then and I had learned a lot about raising the quirky birds. All these years later I think it's high time I explain exactly why chickens may not be a good idea for everybody. 

Of course I think everyone needs some chickens in their life. They just come with a few uhhh, surprises!