Who has the answer ? ...

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by kiniche, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. kiniche

    kiniche New Egg

    Dec 14, 2012
    Some background:
    About 2 years ago I sold my IT business and decided I wanted to become a 'farmer'.
    One year ago we settled down in Mexico, bought a 900 acres historical hacienda and got to work.

    My short medium term goal (5 years) is to built up a hatchery business with a relative small output of 1000 chicks per day.

    My current setup is that I have 5 flocks free-ranging, varying in group size from just 30 to 200. Total birds is up to about 500 now.

    All birds where purchased as baby chicks. About 400 of them from a 'professional' hatcher and about 100 from backyard flock owners.

    My oldest group of birds is a mix of: barred rock, isa brown, rhode island red, black nacked neck, total of 24 females and 3 males.

    Down the road I want to purchase a professional incubator but while learning the process I decided to not waste money (yet) on a bad investment.

    The mature flock produces about 20 eggs on average per day. I've setup 4 home made incubators (styrofoam). Each incubator has air circulation 24/7, enough humidity and temp running at 99F.

    After reading a lot about turning I decided to NOT bother with turning. My goal was not high hatching numbers but learning how the process really works before going more professional.
    Currently I hatch about 40% of our eggs. The remaining 60% are opened and can be divided between infertile (or not developed due to non turn) and dead during last week.

    The key issue for me currently is not how to get my 40% up but how to solve another issue: mortality rate of the 40% hatched is high, too high.

    Brooder is setup on wire (did non wire and wood shavings as well to test the difference).
    Chicks are fed normal water with a vitamin supplement
    Chicks are fed commercial starter (with medication).

    I did test without medication and without vitamins but results where similar.

    About 50% of the chicks develop 'pasty butt'. Daily they are cleaned still pasty butt will not go away resulting in very high death rate.

    -I can rule out genetic issues since the flock is too diverse
    -brooder is setup on 87F, had it warmer and colder, no effect on my problems.
    -the parents truly free range in a relative dry climate, very hard to develop issues as pollorum
    -eggs are collected about once an hour!
    -newly hatched chicks are left to dry in incubator/hatcher for up to 48hrs depending on the chick.
    -newly introduced chicks to the brooder are forced to drink first.

    -When I purchase commercial hatched chicks in a batch of 100 about 20 will end up dead due to sticky butt as well!.

    Any suggestions/ideas?

  2. Wisher1000

    Wisher1000 Bama Biddy

    Wow! You jumped in with both feet! My suggestion is to back up and tackle one problem at a time. I don't have the answers for you but you can find them all on this site. Use the search window and read all you can. Good luck and keep us posted!
  3. chiqita

    chiqita Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 29, 2011
    San Jose, Ca
    Are the chicks exposed to drafts? Are they too close together and eating thier own poo by accident? Those are the 2 things that come to mind immediatly.
  4. LilyD

    LilyD Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 24, 2011
    Bristol, VT
    Okay just from the birds that I have raised so far I can tell you that I start out by feeding them hard boiled egg before I give them pelleted feed for the first three or four days after hatch. I also give them some plain yogurt since when they are hatched they have very little good bacteria in their gut. When I did these two things for the first three or four days the pasty but went away. I was told that it is caused by an imbalanced digestive system. Once you balance it it does fine after that.

    Hope this helps.
  5. kiniche

    kiniche New Egg

    Dec 14, 2012
    Yes jumped in with both feet. Needed a new challenge ;-)

    I read one of your posts yesterday and actually switched the new borns to your 'diet'. I will keep you updated.

    No draft at all. The eating of the poop was one of the first things that came to mind as well.
    Initially I had them on paper towel and simply added a layer of towel 2* a day to keep things clean. Death rate was high.
    I then changed it to wood shavings, basically same death rate.
    Now they are on wire. I do not like the wire solution at all but feel I need to eliminate problems. Death rate is identical to paper/shavings so poop does not seem to be the problem.

    Just an update:
    This morning I had 4 deaths, all within 2 week old range. I also had 9 new borns.

    The following issues come to mind and if anyone has experience I gladly hear feedback:
    -Quality of feed. Where we live we can't just go to a feed mill so we're limited to commercial feed.
    My adults are fed non medicated feed.
    I just switched the parents back to the starter feed with the thought to increase their protein and vitamin intake. Quality of egg might be too low?

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