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What's wrong with our incubation?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Davaroo, Jun 7, 2008.

  1. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    I have been reading the auto-biopic, "Egg Farming in California - A Poultry Book," by Charles Weeks. Written in 1922, this book details all the mistakes, and success, Mr Weeks made for himself while pioneerig what we would now call the Permaculture or Confined Range method of chicken rearing.
    His observations while often prosaic, are certainly of interest to we chicken raisers of today. Following is an excerpt on his initial attempts to incubate his own production flock.

    "┬ůSo we built a monstrous incubator cellar, large enough for 3000 eggs, and we filled it with eggs from our own young, first year brown Leghorn pullets.
    What a tragic mistake THAT was! Any fair breeder could have told us that this was folly, but it seemed that fate should have us go through this experience on purpose - so that the lesson could be well learned.

    On the day that we brought out that first hatch, people came from far and near to see the mammoth incubator. We carried the chicks out to the long brooder house by the hundred, bringing off about a 50 per cent hatch. This was a big drop from our first year's experience, and we were again puzzled.

    (The first year, Mr. Weeks had been provided select hatching eggs from a neighbors flock of skillfully managed breeding birds. His hatch rate that first year was 82% - David)

    It was a pretty sight to look down the long rows of pens in the brooder house and see the little brown chicks scratching for their feed. But, oh, how our hopes went down when they began to die one by one. They were puny and weak and no power on earth could raise them.

    The problem? Our parent stock was immature, poorly selected and not correctly mated.

    (Here Mr. Weeks has learned the hard way what has been long known: Breeding for vigor using properly selected, matured and reared parent stock is the key to poultry vitality. - David)

    We made a fizzle - and hardly a respectable fizzle - trying to raise these chicks. It was enough to discourage the bravest. The puny lot of stock was disgustingly thin-breasted, thin-beaked and with hardly enough vitality to hobble about.

    If we had only known why we failed, it would have made us feel better. We blamed the incubator and the brooder system - technology was the fault, of course. Thousands have done the same thing, and it has caused more kinds of incubator and brooder systems to be put on the market than almost any other thing.
    Only later could we see that the incubators and brooder were all right, but the parent stock could not have been more carelessly mated."


    This is a fascinating book and I recommend it to any one who is interested in maximizing your poultry efforts.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2008
  2. ezbird

    ezbird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is this a chicken diary? Interesting nonetheless. But I don't know anyone who would want to hatch that many chicks, good grief. It be like a river of chicks.
     
  3. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    Is this a chicken diary?

    Yes, of sorts. Mr. Weeks wrote the book to detail his life and his efforts to successfully raise poultry. Thats why I described it as a "biopic."

    But I don't know anyone who would want to hatch that many chicks, good grief. It be like a river of chicks.

    Understand that unlike most of us, Mr. Weeks was raising poultry for a living. It was his sole occupation, and he was not a hobbyist.
    This means rearing them in large numbers, as it is more efficient to use your time tending to 1000 birds as it is tending to 10.​
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 8, 2008
  4. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    I would say too big of an area to keep a uniform temperature, and probably to much fluxuation in humidity. Did you turn the eggs? But I think fluctuations and non uniformity of heat and humidity may have interrupted their development at crucial times.
     
  5. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    You may not know it, but the ancient Egyptians maintained building sized incubators, fired with dung. They paid back 3 chicks for every 4 eggs set, the workers keeping the surplus as payment. In order to do this, they had both skill with very primitive equipment and stringent breeding requirements which had to be met.

    Again Mr. Weeks' point wasnt about the technology for incubation - he learned it from a neighbor, who used an incubator heated with water boiled on the stove!

    Rather, his point was that incubating success is more about good and careful breeding in the parent stock rather than in the technology employed.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 8, 2008

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