I can smell Spring in the air. I have been thinking about all the outside chores that will need to be done once the weather is nicer. Along with outside work comes gardening! I am really excited to start planning my garden and getting my seeds ordered. Of course as all that gets decided I will be sharing it with you.
Spring also means baby chicks! Soon the feed stores will have loads of baby chicks chirping away. This will be the start of my third year raising backyard chickens. Right now I have 9 hens. 5 of them will be 2 years old in May and the other 4 will be 1 in March. I will be adding a few more to the clan in the next couple months. I am trying to make the decision as to whether to get some fertilized eggs and let one of my hens hatch out the chicks or purchase baby chicks from the store. Here are the pros. I have a broody hen. She has been sitting on her nest most of the winter. I have to go out every day and move her off, so she would be great at sitting on eggs. The thought of waiting and watching to see the chicks from the absolute beginning is exciting.
On the other hand the cons are that I am not guaranteed the sex. If she hatches out a rooster I will eventually have to get rid of it since I am not to have roosters in my area. The other con is I am not sure how the other birds will treat these new ones. I will have to do some research to see how long I would need to separate them from the other hens. I imagine about the same amount of time as if I were to get them from the store. I started introducing last years new birds at around 6 weeks.
There is a lot to think about. I have a lot of questions that need to be answered before I hatch my own. Like will the new birds be warm enough if they are hatched outside? You have to keep them under a heat lamp if you buy them from the store. What will they eat? Do I buy chick food and if so how do I keep the older hens from eating all the babies food? Will the mother feed them? Do I keep the mother and babies separated form the rest of the flock? If so for how long? Looks like I will be renting some chicken books again!
Feel free to offer any advise. If you have hatched your own chickens how did you do it?