Confessions of a City Slicker

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by mortie, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. mortie

    mortie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 16, 2014
    The Frozen Tundra
    I grew up in a small town, but even in my town of 8,000, I don't think anyone had chickens. We were as far removed from our food sources as you could get. No one had much of a garden (being in a desert where the growing season is only a few months long didn't help) and food came from the grocery store. I never saw a brown egg in my life until I was 18 after having moved to England for a short whle. White eggs were actually hard to come by. I will admit, I was a little bit grossed out at first. I was sure those brown eggs would taste funny. I was a city slicker.

    I'm all grown up now. I live in a medium sized down in midwestern America. There are farms all around us even though our growing season is still painfully short. They've been nice places to visit with my kids, but we don't have a garden. We only a teeny bit less far removed from our food sources than I was when I was growing up. Our food comes from a grocery store. We rarely get brown eggs, but they are available. We are city slickers.

    I want more for myself, and for my family. I wouldn't mind trying a garden. I will admit, we've tried one before but we never got anything substantial out of it. At a minimum, I would love to at least get some nice eggs from our own little flock of chickens. I want my kids to see that food doesn't come from a grocery store and where those processed chicken pellets they love so much come from. We give to our chickens, and they give back to us.

    The city I live in has begun to allow backyard chickens and I am finally ready to take the plunge but I need you experts to walk me through this! I have no idea what I am doing here.

    I have limitations. My spouse has grudgingly agreed that I can have some chickens but pretty much everything to do with them has to be on a tight budget because he is not hot on the idea and REALLY not hot on spending a lot of money on it. I have limited space. I live on a lot between a quarter and a third of an acre, and it's odd shaped and on a corner. The area I've been given permission to set up shop is in a shady corner where no grass grows because of the trees overhead. I can't encroach on our already space-challenged back yard much. I don't have a nice compost heap upon which to dump chicken poop or litter, and really nowhere to put one. I have to keep this project decent looking and odor free so as not to irritate my crotchety neighbor. I am limited to 4 chickens over 8 weeks old and none of them can be roosters.

    Sound like fun?

    I figured since we are doing the whole circle-of-life-where-does-our-food-come-from thing, I might try to start out with eggs. Someone even gave me an incubator. Sounded like a great idea until I read what a tightrope walk hatching is. I am still determined to try it, but I am fully prepared to fail miserably. Still, I'd rather not if I can help it, so I'm glad you're all here. I figure we can talk coop design and stuff later, first let's get these eggs to hatch!
     
  2. mortie

    mortie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 16, 2014
    The Frozen Tundra
    Equipment:

    A friend gave me a LG circulated air bator. I have a dozen eggs coming on the 23rd. They're not being shipped, the breeder is coming to town that day and is bringing them along. They should be 70 degrees when I get them. She says I do not need to rest them, that I can put them straight into the bator when I get them home. Is this accurate?

    I fired up the bator saturday to try to get a feel for it and how it acts and I patiently trying to get it settled at the right temp. My goal is to get it steady and have it stay steady for several days before the eggs get here. I am also using this time to experiment with humidity and what it takes to get the humidity where I want it (what happens when I fill this channel, what if I fill that one, what if I fill them all, what does it take to get it up to 75% etc).

    Right out of the gate I am having a problem. I have a few different thermometers and they are all having a fundamental disagreement. I bought a thermometer/hygrometer with a remote sensor so that I could put the display near my desk so I could monitor it easily and I set the unit, the remote sensor, and my cooking thermometer next to each other on the counter and the indoor sensor on my unit and my kitchen thermometer were in agreement but my remote sensor was reading a few degrees less.

    I put the sensor in a ziploc and put it in a container of ice and water and it got down to 33 degrees. Close enough. So why the difference? Later, with the sensor right next to the unit, the indoor and outdoor temps were closer to being the same. That is just plain frustrating![​IMG]

    I want to trust it because it seems to work based on the ice water test...but when it contradicts two other thermometers, I don't know what to believe. Right now it and my kitchen thermometer are in the bator and the sensor is showing 94 degrees and the kitchen one is showing 99.[​IMG]

    I have read the LG cheat sheet and I can certainly get a few of those wal mart aquarium thermometers but I really wanted something I could monitor from upstairs easily. The bator is in the basement because the temp down there is very steady and while the upstairs is slightly warmer in the day time, the temp swings from night to day much more, as well as the humidity.

    Speaking of humidity, I have not checked my remote sensor for calibration for RH but it is showing 63% right now. I put water in all the channels hours ago and it's just been slowly creeping up. I am planning to do the dry method where I keep the humidity fairly low during incubation and then bump it up to 75% or so at lockdown. I'm starting to doubt it will even get that high.

    Right now I have one red plug in and one out.

    Ok experts, whatcha think?
     
  3. midget_farms

    midget_farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dunlap Illinois
    WELCOME TO THE CLUB!

    You are off to a good start!

    First - let me say, relax - this is fun not work.

    Believe it or not a chickens butt is not always the right temp, nor is the egg under the right spot all the time. Because of this, hatching eggs are very forgiving! They easily deal with temp. flux. The key is not to get too hot! Too hot kills, too cool means they develop slower & may take an extra day or so.

    Not to scare you here either, but they wont all make it.

    A good rule of thumb for beginners is half of the eggs you set will not hatch & half of the chicks that hatch will not make it to maturity. Oh yeah - half that do will be roosters.

    So if you want 5 hens, 10 need to make it to maturity (5 roos & 5 hens) so 20 need to hatch which means set 40 eggs.

    Now - that said - no one does this & almost always your hatch rate is better & after a hatch or two MUCH better.

    I tell my kids that baby chicks are like light bulbs & sometimes they just burn out. You will find some that don't make it for no reason at all. so be prepared to have that talk.

    Now - for your thermometer questions - use the one that reads highest, or average them all. again - too hot is bad.

    Humidity - you don't want it too high for the first 2 weeks (nor too low) but this is also not precise. I mean how stuffy can it be under a chicken butt? The thing to watch for is the air cell - as you candle eggs it should get larger over the first couple weeks.

    Finally, during lock down bring the humidity way up - that way the membrane is slick enough for the chick to get out easily - too dry & they stick.

    Hope this helps - we are all here to help & answer questions when you have them!

    Remember - HAVE FUN!
     
  4. midget_farms

    midget_farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dunlap Illinois
    When you are ready to talk about the coop & run - let us know - there are a TON of cheap & easy ways to keep chickens in a small space.
     
  5. mortie

    mortie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My math went like this - I bought a dozen eggs. If I am very lucky, I will get 6 to hatch. Statistically half would be roosters. That leaves me with 3 hens if I am lucky and they all magically made it. Naturally I know that itwont go like that. I am actually expecting none to hatch. I will be pleasantly surprised if any do but murphys law says they will all be boys! I guess we will see.

    When I checked the thermometer just now it said 93 and 65% so I think my thermometer is junk. I bumped the heat up a little 4 hours ago and it is probably more like 100.

    I planned to go with 35% humidity for incubation and 75% for lockdown.

    One question I had - the turnerin my LG holds the eggs in an upright position. When I take it out for lockdown the eggs will be on their sides. Will that be okay? Will the chicks be able to orient themselves properly after being upright all that time and then suddenly laying down?
     
  6. ozexpat

    ozexpat CocoBeach Farm

    The built in thermometer is junk.

    You will need an accurate thermometer to be successful.

    You can get an accurite from Walmart or online. They are normally reasonable from the get go

    good luck
     
  7. mortie

    mortie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 16, 2014
    The Frozen Tundra
    Mine doesn't have the built in one. It is used and I have it on loan. The one I am talking about is a moderately priced thermometer/hygrometer with a remote sensor (meant as an indoor/outdoor unit). The other one I have been comparing that to is my nice cooking probe thermometer. I dont even have the LG one, I suspect the owner threw it out because it was junk right away. I am bummed about my brand new one being garbage though.
     
  8. ozexpat

    ozexpat CocoBeach Farm

    there is a great hatching 101 article linked in my signature
     
  9. mortie

    mortie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yup! I have read that one a couple of times. I have read so much my brain is bleeding! Inhave that and the LG cheatsheet bookmarke.
     
  10. midget_farms

    midget_farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dunlap Illinois
    The chicks should be fine laying down but if it makes you nervous place them in a egg carton
     

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