Recently I decided to purchase a small chicken incubator. I’ve raised chickens for years but always started with chicks or full-grown hens. After numerous aborted attempts to coerce a broody hen into hatching for me, I’ve abandoned that plan. I lost three clutches last year to broody hens who simply up and walked away the day the chicks pipped (hatched). By the time I made my morning rounds, none could be saved. Broody hens do not necessarily make natural mamas.
Incubators can be small or big, expensive or cheap. I went small and more expensive than I would have liked, but I also wanted to have good success. In the end, I settled on a Brinsea Mini Advance unit. These are pretty nifty. Hatching anywhere from a dozen small eggs (like quail) or up to seven standard sized chicken eggs, it seemed the logical choice. This was after I talked myself out of the antique incubator I found on Craigslist. Made of beautiful old mahogany wood from the 1930’s – it looked like a piece of furniture I might tuck into the corner of the living room. Except for the fact it hatched 300 eggs at a time, I might have weakened. Three. Hundred. Yeah, you read that correctly.
Do you have any idea how much noise and mess half a dozen chicks can make? Hundreds at a time stretches the imagination.
So, long story short, I got the incubator. I got some fertile eggs, popped them inside the incubator and began to incubate. The next day I dropped by the feed store and guess what? Yep, the day-old chicks had arrived. I brought home six. In three weeks – if everything goes as planned – I’ll have another seven. In a couple months I’ll loan the incubator to my son’s teacher and hatch out another seven. Add all of those to the dozen hens already in the barn… well, I’m going to have a lot of eggs come the end of summer.
And the rooster is going to be mighty tired.