The Hatch

We have completed the last hatch of 2014.  It was excellent!  It is so nice to be able to hatch successfully several times this year after all of our struggles last year trying to figure out high-altitude hatching.

100_0917Watching new life come into the world never gets boring!

100_0820We had quite a variety of colors this hatch.  Blues, yellow, yellow with black stripes, brown chipmunk striped, black…

3

All of the chicks in this hatch were sold at a couple of days of age.

It is interesting to look back at all the incubations and broody hen hatches of this year.  We had 4 incubations and 3 broody hens set a total of 5 times.

2014 Hatching Statistics in Reverse Chronological Order

Incubation #4 of 2014 (the one we just completed)

  • Fertility: 96%
  • Hatch of Fertile: 57%

Hatch #1 for Broody Hen, Ruth (purchased hatching eggs)

  • Fertility: 100%
  • Hatch of Fertile: 73%

Hatch #2 for Broody Hen, Eve (purchased hatching eggs)

  • Fertility: 100%
  • Hatch of Fertile: 50%

Hatch #2 for Broody Hen, Banana

  • Fertility: 36% (this is when we realized our roo, Boaz, was having trouble breeding)
  • Hatch of Fertile: 100%

Incubation #3

  • Fertility: 94%
  • Hatch of Fertile: 52%

Hatch #1 for Broody Hen, Eve

  • Fertility: 100%
  • Hatch of Fertile: 67%

Incubation #2

  • Fertility: 87%
  • Hatch of Fertile 51%

Incubation #1 (had humidity issues with this one)

  • Fertility: 88%
  • Hatch of Fertile: 37%

Hatch #1 for Broody Hen, Banana 

  • Fertility: 80%
  • Hatch of Fertile: 63%

As you can see, this last hatch was our most successful incubation thus far.  But, the hens are still able to do much better than us most of the time.  We are really happy with the continued improvement in our statistics.  It has been a great breeding season for our chicken program and we are very happy with this next generation of stock we have.  We are looking forward to next year to see how much more progress we can make.

4 thoughts on “The Hatch

  1. It really does seem inconsistent – I guess that’s nature for you! But clearly you’ve sussed out a lot of things like humidity that have a huge affect. It will be interesting to see if you get higher and higher rates as time goes by or if you’ll stick where you are just wobbling up and down.

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    • I think trying to copy a natural process definitely leads to the inconsistency. I have heard that hatcheries, which have entire rooms that are incubators and are thus less effected by drafts and weather changes than a home incubator, generally have a 70-80% hatch of fertile rate. Of course most of those are located below 5,000 feet elevation. Hatching begins to be effected from 5,000 up, getting worse as you go up.
      As our breeding stock improves and we select for the birds who have eggs that hatch well at altitude I expect our numbers to improve some. However, I do think that with the inconsistencies present with a home incubator added to the fact that we can’t control the natural way of life and death, we will continue to wobble up and down within a range on our hatch of fertile.
      Just like with the fertility itself…we can put the right number of roos per hen and give them everything short of mood lighting to get them breeding, and yet we still can’t always get 100% fertility.
      One thing we have learned through this all is how very little control we really have on these types of things. We can do everything exactly the same every single time and get different results over and over. Our goal is to shrink the window of wobbling up and down as much as possible while also raising it as much as possible.
      From the other people we have talked to who are attempting to hatch at altitude like us, 50-60% hatch of fertile in an incubator is actually quite exceptional.

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