ONE of the most affordable and most rewarding ways to raise chickens is from chicks, incubated in your own home. But while there are bunch of joys in this process, there are also many aspects to be taken care of. What if the batch of eggs you hatch are mainly males – soon to become cockerels? And how do you prevent the high mortality rate that may accompany raising chicks?
Fertile chicken eggs hatch after 21 days of incubation. This can either be done the organic and natural way – with a broody hen faithfully sitting on a clutch of eggs, keeping them warm and rotating them at least three times a day, for that time, or in an incubator at 39.4C. Depending on how serious you are as a breeder, you can purchase a sophisticated new incubator (capable of heating up 440 eggs at $1000) or a simple one that can process about 40 eggs for $100. There are obviously much affordable ones available on the net. I assume most people reading this blog would be quite happy with a simple secondhand incubator that you can buy for less than $50 on Gumtree or Ebay, or happy to take their chance with nature’s way and a broody.
I am interested in people’s stories of hatching and rearing your own chicks – it’s certainly a great education for children, and it can be an economic way to raise a flock and then to on-sell surplus stock to others.
There are many breeding operations who will post fertile eggs through the mail. You can buy a dozen of a particular breed, up to $100 depending on the breed, and the results can be very rewarding, especially if the majority of the surviving chicks are female. One of these operations that sell fertile eggs is Wallan Poultry Rare Breeds.