Kelly’s Poultry Story

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Google Maps location for Willunga Vet  Services

Willunga Vet Services
37 Main Rd
Willunga
SA 5172

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Phone:
8556 2075
Fax:
8556 2654

Aldinga Vet Services
16 Heathersay Ave
Aldinga Beach
SA 5173

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Phone:
8556 5498

I have never owned any poultry until moving to Willunga 18 months ago and when my partner and I purchased our home it was in the contract that the two hens and rooster had to stay at the property. It was definitely a learning experience – I never knew chickens could be so friendly! After getting used to looking after the chickens, I decided the time had come to purchase two Indian Runner ducks (I had always wanted to have ducks as pets!) and luckily the chickens and ducks managed to get on well together.

So, after finding my feet with my little group of feathery friends, I decided to become more adventurous and raise some of my own. I’d read a lot about hens hatching out their own chicks but unfortunately none of my hens were “broody” (wanting to sit on the eggs) so I purchased a very basic incubator on the net. The incubator is hexagonal in shape and has a lid that contains the heat source and a fan whilst the base has a reservoir for water. Temperature and humidity are really important in incubation of eggs.

I organized to get a batch of fertile eggs from mixed breeds of chickens from an experienced breeder. I had the incubator set up and ready to go – there must be water in the incubator at all times and the temperature must be between 37.5 & 38.5oC.  It takes 21 days to hatch chicks and for the first 3 days you just simply to leave the eggs alone in the incubator. After this, the eggs require turning at least 3-4 times a day to make sure that the embryos don’t stick to the wall of the egg.  By day 18 the eggs no longer need to be turned – in fact, they need to be left still so the air sac can settle and the chick can position itself correctly for hatching. At this point you should also start misting the eggs with water several times a day. This helps to soften the shell and makes it easier for the chick to break through.  When the chicks make their first little cracks in the shell of their egg, it is known as “pipping”. When you see the pipping you will also be able to hear cheeps coming from inside the egg. It can take as little as 2 hours from pipping to the chick hatching but it can take as long as 24 hours.

Despite the temptation (they are very cute!), it’s important not to touch the chicks while they are hatching, in fact, you should not handle them for the first 24 hrs after hatching. The chicks should stay in the incubator for these first 24 hours and they should be completely dry when you take them out.  Chicks cannot keep themselves warm so if you hatch them, and they do not have a broody hen to look after them, they need to be kept under a heat lamp. As they grow you can move the heat lamp further away until its no longer needed.  Little chicks are quite capable little things really – within 24 hours of hatching out they can eat and drink on their own – completely different to us helpless humans!    

The chicks will grow very fast and won’t take long to become feathered. Many are born yellow or brown but will change as the feathers come through.  Incubating chicks and watching them grow has proved to be a very interesting and enjoyable experience!

 

  


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