So, I live on 25 acres, mostly wooded, in the Arkansas Ozarks, and wanted to have some chickens that would be weather hardy and predator resistent. Looked like the Icelandics would be a pretty good breed for that. I have little to no experience with chickens. Tried to keep a couple Rhode Island Reds last year; but something got them one day. I suspect a dog. Anyway, I'm very new to keeping chickens.
Borrowed a still-air incubator from a freind at work. I ordered a half-dozen from David Grote in Wisconsin. They shipped to me in early May. They arrived on May 12th, and I put them in the incubator about 6 hours later.
Since then, I broke many "rules" listed in the egg-hatching tutorials on this site. Did not wait a full day before putting them in the 'bator. Did not allow the 'bator a day to "stabilize," whatever that means. Adjusted the temperature dial whenever I thought it was too hot or too cold. Did not rigidly control humidity - just put a little water in the bottom trays when it looked like it needed it. I DID turn them 3 times a day for the first two weeks, BUT on Day 14, I left home on a day trip and they didn't get turned for about 21 hours. On Day 17 I took my daughter on a camping trip, and the eggs got no attention for more than 24 hours.
On Day 18, I jacked the humidity up to 65% and closed it for the last time prior to hatch. According to all the guidance I've read, I should have a disastrous hatching experience because I didn't "do it right." Even if I had "done it right," I should only have expected 50% hatch rate with mail-ordered eggs, right?
Well, guess what.
And yes, I DID help several of them widen their pip holes and I DID zip for one of them because it looked like the air sac was weirdly shaped and I wanted to make sure he/she could get out during the day when I was away at work. Apparently, opening the 'bator to help didn't hurt these chicks one bit. I moved them to my $5 Rubbermaid Tote brooder about 12 hours after hatching. That didn't hurt them either.
As of this writing, my little chicks are 4 days old. I'll be working furiously on my coop this week, now that the rain has stopped for a little bit. I will put some pics of that up when it's done.
Meanwhile, I posted a note on one of the Icelandic forum threads that reads very similar to this one. And I've attached pics there.
I'll drop a few here too.
Happy to be here. Hope someone enjoys looking at these. About how soon will I be able to tell pullet from cockerel?