The Sun has got His Easter Bonnet on!
As everyone tucks into their chocolate eggs, and proud children display their handmade bonnets, we’ve realised that a chicken is afforded with a sense of fame at this time of the year.
The tiny fluffy craft chicks that adorn each Easter cake litter supermarket shelves making us realise how special our own hobby is. Although we’ve had a couple of very cold days and even a little snow, the sun has definitely now got his hat on and we’re shouting hip hip hooray.
As breeders of bantams we adore April as this is the season when new arrivals are produced from our old favourites.
Starting from Scratch
If you are considering introducing chickens to your family life, this time of the year is perfect for buying fertilized eggs to raise yourself. Although a lot of care is needed, children especially will love seeing the chicks grow and this method produces the tamest birds. It’s a wonderful hobby as you can start your flock from scratch feeling a special bond with each of your chickens, and as they grow you can prepare for when they are put out into the garden or paddock.
Using an Incubator
An incubator is a good investment, or if you already have chickens you can place eggs under a broody hen, the hen will take good care of the chicks for the first six weeks at least and this is the most cost effective way. However for your own chicks, an incubator with an automatic turner is ideal. The temperature is kept at optimum whilst humidity is afforded as long as you top up the water.
You can buy cheap incubators that are basically a heating element, an led light and a box. With these be careful not to over crowd the incubator and make sure you always have an egg cup full of water for the humidity. Eggs need water to grow as it makes up the majority of the contents of an egg in the beginning. You will also need to turn the eggs twice a day preferably at the same time. A good tip is to pencil a little mark on one side so you know which ones you have turned in case you’re interrupted by enquiring minds.
When they Hatch
Chicks can live off the sustenance from the yoke for twenty four hours after hatching. After this it is a good idea to set up a spot with saw dust, a heat lamp, some chick crumbs and a small drinker. The drinker will stop the chicks from drowning as they can even in a bowl of water, and they must be kept dry or diseases will spread. You can also add vitamin mixes to the feed, however check for scour regularly, this is yellow discharge much like diarrhoea and can easily spread.
Some chicks will not make it past the first few days, as even seasoned chicken breeders know that 10% of chicks do not survive for a majority of reasons. Don’t despair if this happens, however if you are losing lots of chicks seek advice.