Flock Care

Beginning

Packing and Shipping Eggs: Leigh from Natural Chicken Keeping gives a great tutorial in this post.

Assisted Hatching:  It is highly recommended to leave the eggs alone…step away from the eggs.  Let them hatch naturally.  However, from time to time, a chick would benefit from a bit of an assist.  Here is a wonderful guide to how to do so.  Please, be mindful that there are graphic photos related to this post.

Incubation 

Air Cell Development – as you incubate, your air cells should grow.  There are several places online to find the charts for what air cells should look like through development.  I will provide a link to one such, here…at some point.

Sometimes, especially with shipped eggs, you can have messed up air cells.  It is best to let them sit, fat side up, for at least two days before starting to turn your eggs.

Airflow in the Incubator is crucial for a successful hatch.  Without it, you will suffocate your chicks.  Trust me, I’ve done it.

Humidity levels must also be correct.  You will be able to determine how much humidity your eggs need by the development of the aircell.  Too big an aircell for the amount of time in the incubator – you need to add humidity.  Too small an aircell – remove humidity.  The last three days of incubation, you need to bump the humidity significantly to aid with the hatching.  The most commonly believed % of humidity for this period is 60-65%.

Turning your eggs is another must.  If you do not turn your eggs, the poor fellas will stick to their shells.  That makes everyone unhappy.  There are a few schools of thought on how often to turn – but, the absolute minimum is twice a day.  You can lay them on their sides and turn them side over side – mark each side with a symbol that will help you recognize if they have been turned or not.  You can also rock them about 45° each way with the fat end up.  That is what we do in our incubator and what quite a few of the automatic egg turners out on the market do.

Sanitizing your incubator is a must.  Aside from suffocating your eggs, you can kill them with bacteria.  Always wash your hands before handling your eggs; and, always clean your incubator before setting your eggs.

Sustaining

Fermented Feed: The definitive guide…is coming to this site – I’m in the process of compiling my notes and thoughts.  However, if you are game, there are several hundred pages of discussion on fermented feed can be found here at Backyard Chickens.

Home Feeding: This is an interesting thread that discusses the potential viability of sustaining your flock’s dietary requirements through things you can raise/provide on your own land.

Housing: Here is a quick overview of some of the considerations you may want to give to designing and building your own coop.

Ending

Processing Your Chickens: Many of us not only raise chickens for the wonderful eggs they give us, but also for the meat.  Knowing all that goes into your chickens and ensuring they have a humane and happy life means a lot.  However, knowing how to process them humanely and correctly is of just as much importance.  This post is one of the best, most comprehensive posts I’ve ever seen on the subject.  Due to the nature of the topic, there are many graphic photos on this link.