PictureLittle babies just out of the incubator
We are now about to start incubating and hatching cute little, fluffy chicks.  We started collecting eggs a couple days ago.  When you are collecting eggs for incubation they should be kept at around 50 degrees for optimum hatch rates.  We have a GQF cabinet incubator that will hold 198 eggs for the incubation part and two tabletop incubators that hold 110 eggs altogether for the hatching.  The eggs have to be turned at least 3 or 4 times a day to prevent the embryo from sticking to the cell membrane - the incubators we have do that automatically, about every two hours.  Usually we stagger the incubation batches by at least a couple days or up to a week - so that by the time one batch is finished and done in the hatcher and the chicks are in the brooder there will be at least a couple days before we have to put another batch in the hatcher.  That gives us time to clean and sanitize the incubators too.  Even though it is January it feels like Spring once we being incubating:)

One of the tabletop incubators
You have to keep the eggs at a certain temperature and humidity while they are incubating.  At day 18 when they go into the hatcher you have to up the humidity quite a bit.

We like to candle the eggs at days 7, 14 and 18.  The reason for candling them is to remove any that are infertile or if one dies it will contaminate the ones around it and then they will die, too.  You will have a much higher hatch rate if you candle your eggs.  We use the Fleischmann Eggs Ray and it works really well for us.
Old English Game Bantam egg at day 10
On day 18 the eggs go into the hatcher and stay there until day 21.  On day 21 we open the hatcher, take out the chicks.  The chicks should hatch on day 21 - some hatch a little earlier and some a little later - however they all get taken out together.
Buckeye chicks just out of the hatcher

It is so amazing how God made an egg - so that from this: a shell with a pile of goo inside
It turns into this.  All the little developmental changes they go through - it is quite amazing!
Marans Chicks
We incubate and hatch two breeds of chickens which we offer for sale - Marans and Buckeyes (and occasionally some little bantams).  We are taking orders now and will be hatching them until we decide we are exhausted, usually around July or August :)

Marans chicks $5 ea. - pullets / hens $25 to $30 ea.
Buckeye chicks $5 ea. - pullets / hens $25 to $30 ea.
$55 for 15 hatching eggs

Thank you for reading and have a great day!
The Buckeye is a large, heritage, dual purpose breed.  They were developed by Mrs. Nettie Metcalf to stand the cold winters of Warren, Ohio - and they do excellent in our Montana climate.

These birds are a heritage dual purpose breed. They grow very large with roosters dressing out at weights of 4 to 6 pounds at 18 to 20 weeks. Buckeyes are a sustainable bird - bringing meat and eggs to the table year after year - We have found it takes less feed to raise our Buckeyes to 20 weeks than it took to raise broilers to 8 weeks - they eat more like a normal chicken:)

Buckeyes are also excellent layers for those looking just for the laying flock. Very docile and personable birds, they make an excellent backyard or family farm bird. One of the fabulous things about our heritage birds is that they will dependably lay for you much longer than hatchery type birds which usually stop producing well by around age 2 - our birds should lay well into 5 or 6 years!

We have started hatching now - call to pre-order your chicks today!
Day old chicks - strait run: $5 ea.
Hatching eggs: 15 for $55
We will have laying age pullets/hens and breeding pairs and trios available later in the year
Laying age pullets/hens: $35 ea.
The Marans are an old heritage breed.  They were developed in the marshy areas of France. They are a dual purpose bird - my roosters dress out at an averaged 4 to 6 lbs. They are prized for their dark chocolate brown eggs, laying about 275 - 300 eggs per year.  The brown color in Marans' eggs is the result of a layer of pigment deposited over a finished egg as it passes through the oviduct.  You can even scrub the dark coating off the eggs whereas with other eggs the tan pigment is built in to the shell calcium.  The egg color is graded on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the darkest.  The minimum acceptable color for a Marans egg is a 4#.  A pullet might lay a amazing 7# to 9# because of being delayed in the oviduct and as a result being spray-painted extra long.  Our hens have been proven to be able to lay #4 eggs or darker.  Our line comes direct from Bev Davis - the originator of the Wheaten strain.

The French version is feather legged; the English is clean legged.

There are 9 recognized colors in the French Standard: Cuckoo, Golden Cuckoo, Black, Birchen, Black Copper, Wheaten, Black-tailed Buff, White and Columbian.

The Blue Wheaten variety is not yet recognized in the Standard.  We are working on genetics with the breed - as there is a problem producing Blue Wheaten roosters.  We have two Blue Wheaten boys at the moment:)
Here is one of my Blue Wheaten roosters and some Wheaten hens:
Here is a Splash hen:
The Wheaten line carries feathered shanks and amber eyes.  They are a strikingly beautiful bird.
We photographed the progress of this Bantam - day 4, 10, 14 and 18 then photos of the hatch.  You can see the progress as time goes on - so amazing to watch!  We chose a bantam because they are the lightest color eggs we are currently hatching, and therefore the easiest to see into with a candler.

Day 4:

Day 10:

Day 14:

Day 18:

Day 20 and 21:
Photo of a 4 day old bantam egg in incubation - stay tuned to see how this bantam develops - we will be photographing its progress.

1.      For people that sell eggs for consumption. It is important that the quality and impression is maintained as professional. If someone finds “something” in a farm raised egg they are often times physiologically traumatized at the horror of what they might find next time – due to this physiological bias  they are reluctant to purchase farm eggs again. It also allows the farmer to very clearly see any cracks in the eggs helping to produce a safe and satisfactory product for the customer.

2.      For people that sell eggs for hatching – clearly distinguishes cracked eggs, frozen eggs, and other damage, it is even possible to gauge the age of the egg based on the air cell size for those that free range their birds and discover a nest.  

3.      For small homesteads to mitigate losses of naturally incubated poultry. A natural nest can be evaluated for fertility, ceased development, bacterial infections and other previously stated issues. The possibilities are endless here, two or three nests can be consolidated into one, then the hens “de-broodied” and reset, this can often times gain weeks or months of progress. Entire nests may have to be destroyed because of a new hen that did not get the incubation schedule right, again saving tremendous time. Rotten eggs may be avoided, saving the others etc.

4.      Fertility evaluation. Fertility can be evaluated as soon as possible saving vital time during the breeding season.

5.      Hatcheries, breeders and hobbyists

6.      Increased operator confidence, this gives people ‘control’ -  it allows them to feel as though they are the ones managing their breeding practices and progressing. This allows them to make crucial changes in a timely and informed manner  when otherwise they would be at the mercy of the slow processes of nature i.e. a nest that doesn’t hatch after a month.

The eggs ray increases homestead and hatchery productivity, maintains professionalism of egg producers, improves bio-security of natural nests and incubators, and gives the operator greater control of their business.

Call to order your Fleischmann Eggs-Ray today!

Our Buckeye hen finally has her little chicks - after 21 long days of constant motherly care over her eggs!  She is so patient with them.  When it gets cold she clucks to them and gently shoves them under her with her beak.  The chicks are learning to take dust-baths, look for bugs, eat, drink and all the other things they need to learn.  I think it is so amazing how God's creation works - how a little puddle of goo can turn into a live chick!  And how a mamma hen knows how to sit on the eggs for the right amount of time - she knows if an egg is bad and she'll push it out of her nest - then she knows how to care for the chicks when they come out of their eggs - how to teach them to do all they need to know.  With their tiny little brain, yet they are perfectly equipped to do all they should.

Our Khaki Campbell ducklings, Silkies and Old English Game bantams go out to pasture in their Chicken Tractor - enjoying the sun, eating grass, scratching, pecking - they love it!

Khaki Campbell ducks are amazingly cute and busy - constantly on the move - so full of personality.  I love it when they turn one eye up toward you to see you better!