Last year we ordered chicks from Murray McMurray Hatchery, this year we decided to hatch our own. Our current flock of fluffy butts is six strong and they lay well, plenty for our little household, but we wanted a few more to be able to share with family and friends (and because Graham was convinced that we needed more egg color variety). Getting the eggs was a bit of a debacle, the site we ordered from shipped out four of the 12 eggs and then notified us that the other eggs would not be available for a couple months. After many many conversations they agreed to ship out a fresh set of eggs quickly so that all the eggs could be incubated together.
Incubating was pretty easy, we got an incubator from Farm Innovators with a digital control so we just set it and then spent a couple minutes every day rotating the eggs (in addition to them being in the auto turner) and adding water to keep the humidity up. 21 days later the first eggs showed little holes (in pro egg hatching circles this is called being pipped). It takes a lot of energy for the little chicks to unzip their shells, it can take anywhere from 12-24hrs after the pipping for the babies to finally make it out into the world.
After the girls (we are being optimistic here) hatched we let them dry out and settle in with their sisters for a bit. Now for those of you who have not seen a bird hatch, there is something magical in the process. They put every ounce of effort into hatching, they put it all out there and leave nothing on the table...we are definitely going to do more hatches.
We gave them their shots so that they would have a good strong start and we also mix probiotics and nutrients into their water and give them medicated chic starter feed. Now here's a funny note, we are continuing to be optimists, but we know that one of the chicks is a boy because he has a white dot on his head; some breeds are called "sex linked" because you can tell their sex right when they hatch based on their markings. Anyways, that boy can be seen hiding under the two white chicks in one of the pictures...he will make a big scary strong rooster some day.
They really are so damn cute at this age.