Several years ago I adopted some ex-battery hens and enjoyed having them around but as they died off I did not replace them and have been chookless for a while, but recently I decided I want to keep some chickens again so I got hubby to built me a nice new coup in the backyard and we fenced it all off to keep the chooks in and the dogs and cats out ... I wanted to get some 'pretty' chickens so bought some chook books and did some research on breeds and their characteristics and needs etc, and because I could not find anyone in my area selling the breeds I wanted I decided I would invest in an incubator and hatch eggs that I could easily get via the internet. Inevitably I will get some cockerals this way so reluctantly agreed with hubby that the males would become chicken-dinners (we are not allowed to keep roosters in our town) and chose my chook breeds mainly for their dual-purpose attributes. My first incubation attempt (I got a nice new Hovabator off ebay with turner) was not a great success, just 4 chicks from 16 eggs - but I had made the mistake of incubating some duck eggs in with my chook ones and of course requirements and hatch times are different so to cut a long story short I stuffed up and learned my first hard lesson - I incubated Brown Leghorns (wanted some super-layers), Gold Laced Wyandottes (because they are so beautiful), Dorkings (to try for their reputation as good meaties), and Rhode Island Reds (good all-rounder), got 1 Leghorn, 2 Dorkings and 1 Wyandotte, they are now 7 weeks old and looking lovely with their big-bird feathers mostly out now. Sadly nothing came of my duck eggs, they were Silver Appleyards. I then also attempted 4 Indian Runner duck eggs and I was so happy when they all hatched 3 days early, they were incredibly adoreable but have grown soooo fast, 4 weeks old now and all at least half feathered and looking more like adults already, but still very cute! My latest hatch was just this week and although not perfect was happily more sucessful than the first, out of the 24 eggs that I bought 19 eggs developed properly and made it through to 'hatch time' 15 hatched (but 1 chick died), and I now have 14 gorgeous fluffy babies under their electric mum - 1 Gold Laced and 1 Silver Laced Wyandotte, 1 Rhode Island Red, 3 Buff Sussex, 4 Barnevelder, 4 Barred Plymouth Rocks. While looking for advice and information on the internet I found this site/forum and it has been a great source of help for me. I was browsing through it again this morning for some info about one of my chicks that has just this morning developed a curled up foot (it kinda looks like it has foot cramp ad like it might be spreading to the other foot too!) and decided to join up as it seems I will be coming back to this site again and again for advice and inspiration. So thank you to everyone who contributes to it, especially those wise and experienced members that have helped me so far.