Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Surprise in My Chicken Coop

This Egg Should Hatch Within the Next Week
Mid summer is upon us here and it is hot, hot, hot! Yesterday was 104.4 Fahrenheit and today was 102.3 Fahrenheit. I have thought on more than one occasion this summer maybe I should have chosen a state further north, but alas, summer heat is only a couple of months and the rest of the year is rather pleasant. I will just suck it up and do my best to stay comfortable until October arrives with its promise of more pleasant daytime highs and cool nights. Heat is rough on livestock, so I have been checking the water in the coop twice a day to make sure my chickens can cool off and stay hydrated.

I had always considered chicks a springtime thing, so I have been collecting and enjoying all the eggs my small flock has produced. All the hens are laying daily, so I have a bunch of eggs and never seem to run out. While collecting eggs a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a hen of mine had become broody and was sitting on a few eggs. I decided to let her play momma, after all, I have a ton of eggs right now and I had no idea if my rooster was fertile. For one full week I didn't retrieve any eggs. I have three hens, so that makes for a lot of eggs in the coop.

Broody Betty with her Clutch
This evening when I went to check the water I noticed Broody Betty, as I have taken to calling her, has so many eggs in her clutch she has to keep her wings spread. I figured I should probably try to candle the eggs, cull the ones that are not developing, and mark those that show signs of a potential chick. Broody Betty was not pleased, but I found most of the eggs are in different stages of development!

The ideal temperature for hatching chicken eggs is 99 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 to 55% humidity. Oklahoma is, I have discovered, ideal for this. Days here are warm and humid. Brooding Betty can get up and move about if she chooses and at night it is not too much work to keep the clutch warm and snug.

Early development
So now I wait. I will continue to check the coop twice a day and as the chicks hatch I will remove them for protection from the rest of the flock until they are big enough to fend for themselves. I will need to enlarge my coop a little by next summer to accommodate the new additions, but my egg selling will ramp up next summer and I can expand to pickling and drying the eggs as well.

Farm life never ceases to amaze me!