Thursday, January 19, 2017

New Beginnings

I am back in my beloved Whitelees.

December 2016 saw the arrival of Avian flu.  This means a clamp down on all domestically kept birds.  We have to keep the chickens away from wild birds. To keep my four hens (and the wild birds) safe, my birds are in the hen house.  They're not allowed out in their run and certainly  not allowed access to the garden.   Boo for restrictions but if it keeps them safe, then alrighty.

My birds are getting old and even though they are hybrid layers, the slackers have not given me many eggs lately.  I was thinking about expanding my flock.  How can I do that if there are all these restrictions going on? Restrictions mean that the movements of live birds is forbidden, but not eggs! If I'm going to hatch some eggs out, I'm going to hatch GOOD ones!

I got some Maran hatching eggs (the dark brown ones) from Greenfield Marans in Lancashire. Look for them on Facebook.

I kept some Maran chickens years ago.  They came at great expense and from over 100 miles away.  They laid beautiful eggs. In the end, a fox got them. The death of those birds meant the end of the free range life for my home flock.  I replaced the chickens but never got the Maran breed again.  Getting other more common breeds was just easier.  Somebody in the village has a commercial flock and I would get birds who have just finished their first laying season from them at a very good price.

As I only have a few hens, I thought that if I was going to invest in some new birds, I'd get ones that make me the happiest.  Those hens that lay the beautiful brown eggs will be just the thing.

The Maran eggs arrived today.

Look at how expertly they have packed those eggs!

As soon as I was home from work, the eggs were popped in an incubator that has been warming up for 24 hours.

In the past, the incubation here at Whitelees was done by an actual hen.  A broody hen does a fantastic job of incubating eggs.  Once, I had a hen hatch out 14 chicks in one go!  I've also used a broody hen to hatch out duck eggs. In the absence of a broody hen, I am using a borrowed incubator.

When placing them in the incubator, I marked them with an X on one side and a O on the other. The incubator that I have does not turn the eggs,  It is supposed to turn eggs, but that part of the incubator broke.
Turning has to be done manually.  Now that they are marked, I can tell which ones have been turned.  Egg turning must be done a couple of times a day. up until the end.
Chicken eggs take 21 days to hatch.  You must stop turning the eggs on day 19.

Now our watch begins

1 comment:

joared said...

Those are beautiful eggs. I'd never heard of this breed, but guess my chicken knowledge is limited to a few breeds in the U..S. we had when I was young. I recall having Rhode island Reds who lay a light brown egg. Also, Pop let a Bantam hen hatch some duck eggs once which became a distressing experience for mother hen when the chicks encountered water and jumped in.