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Is it Too Late to Hatch Eggs??

6/25/2015 4:00 PM

Spring time is a big rush for hatching eggs. As a company that sells egg incubators, we definitely take notice. Now that it’s summer some may ask: “Did I miss the window of opportunity? Is it too late to hatch my eggs?” The answer is… it depends.

 

The first thing to consider is the type of bird you want to hatch. Chickens will Generally lay eggs for most of the year. They'll stop laying when they start molting and will really slow down egg production in those months with less sunlight. The rooster will do his business year round.  As a very broad average hens will generally produce about 250 eggs per year. This heavily depends on the breed of the Chicken. Geese, on the other hand, will only lay eggs in the spring, as well as many breeds of Duck.  

 

The second thing to consider is your purpose in raising the birds. Some raise birds for meat, others for eggs, and some for pets. You need to plan ahead in terms of when you want your eggs or meat. The time it takes for the birds to be ready to harvest for meat varies depending on the breed. Some take 5 months and others, such as some Cornish breeds, can take as little as 8 weeks! If you wait after their prime harvesting time the meat will start to get tough. As far as raising birds for eggs, they need to grow for about 6 months before they start laying eggs. Again, this is a very broad average. Here is a good explanation for Chickens from the MyPetChicken.com forum:

 

On average, pullets, or juvenile hens, start laying eggs at about 6 months of age, depending on the breed. Larger, heavier birds like Wyandottes, Plymouth Rocks and Orpingtons will lay on the later side whereas lighter, smaller breeds like Leghorns, Stars, and Australorps will start laying sooner.

 

Taking this into consideration will allow you to know when you should hatch your eggs. This explains why incubation season is in the spring. This allows you to raise your birds in a warmer time of the year, as well as being able to start harvesting eggs and/or meat before it starts getting cold again. Now that it’s almost July, it doesn’t really mean you’ve missed the boat to hatch your eggs. It just means you need to plan ahead! 

0 Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Steve Boyd

IncuStat Basic? Or Advanced?

4/15/2015 2:49 PM

 

We sell a variety of different incubator thermostats, all of which will ultimately get the job done. Two of our most popular thermostats are the IncuStat Basic and the IncuStat Advanced. They come as an individual units or part of the IncuKit XL for cabinet incubators. A common question we receive is “Well which one should I get?” They both automatically regulate the temperature; they are both accurate, both digital… So what’s the difference? The main difference is in the way they regulate the temperature.

 

The Basic thermostat is considered an on/off thermostat. It will simply give full power to the heater when it is under the set temperature and then cuts the power to the heater when it reaches the set temp. Because of this there are generally some temperature swings. BUT the thermostat will generally keep the average temperature at your set temp.

 

 

The advanced thermostat regulates differently. It is a “proportional thermostat.” What this does is instead of just switching the heater on and off it will actually give partial power to the heater as it needs it. For example: let’s say you turn on your incubator using the advanced thermostat. The thermostat will give 100% power to the heater until it gets within a few degrees of the set temp at which time it will start tapering the heater percentage. Once the set temp is reached the thermostat will only give a portion of power to the heater. Well what’s the benefit of this? The benefit is that it prevents large temperature swings. The thermostat is designed to keep the temperature hovering right around the set temperature without any significant up or down swings. Because the advanced thermostat, comes with optional fan and egg turner controls and is overall more…well… advanced it does come with a larger price tag.

 

 

So the short answer to the question of which one you should use: …*drumroll*… it really comes down to your hatching needs. If you have some expensive eggs or eggs that are more sensitive to temperature swings it would make sense to invest more in a thermostat that will perform to those needs. In this case the Advanced would probably be the one for you. If you are a casual hatcher that would like to save money and are not so concerned about temperature swings but are ok with a solid average temperature then the Basic would be for you. Click Here to see our full line up of incubator thermostats.

Comments | Posted in Product Details By Steve Boyd

Ducks.

3/19/2015 2:55 PM

 

Raising Ducks has many advantages, as do Chickens. They both lay eggs, they both provide meat and they are generally raised in the same way. My goal in writing this blog is not to tell you that one is better than the other, but rather to show the differences between Ducks and Chickens, pros and cons of Ducks and to clear up common misconceptions about Ducks.

 

Differences between Ducks and Chickens

Aside from the obvious differences between Ducks and Chickens there are a few key differences to consider if you are interested in raising Ducks.  First are the eggs. Duck eggs, for the most part, are more “yolky” then those of a Chicken. Duck eggs are slightly larger than Chicken eggs as well. Other than that they both taste the same. Many chefs actually prefer to use Duck eggs for Pastries. If you want to know the reason why, just ask your local pastry Chef because I don’t know. When it comes to egg production Ducks are more productive. The average Chicken will lay eggs for a good three years or so. Some Duck breeds will lay eggs for upwards of 12 years! Two such breeds that are great egg layers are the Khaki Campbell

and the Indian Runner. If you want egg production, these Ducks will deliver! An interesting fact is that many people who are allergic to Chicken eggs find that they are actually not allergic to Duck eggs. As far as Duck meat goes it does taste different than Chicken. Generally it is more oily and “gamey” tasting. Some have even described Duck meat as tasting like Liver. Some breeds do taste better than others, Muscovy (pictured on the right), for example, tastes a lot like beef.

 

Pros and cons

Pros

Ducks love bugs. Chickens will eat bugs as well but Ducks LOVE them. If you want to save time killing weeds in your yard then get some Ducks. Ducks will eat weeds in your yard before they eat any grass. Ducks will also eat almost any table scraps you give them which make them great garbage disposals. This next pro is debatable but I personally believe that ducks are just cuter when they hatch. They are naturally born swimmers and will have a ball if you put them in your kiddy pool or bath tub.

Cons

As was already stated Duck meat just does not taste as good as chicken. Ducks do tend to be a bit noisier with their quacking, though male ducks are much quieter and don’t quack very much. Ducks are messier than Chickens. Ducks will play in the mud till the cows come home!

 

Common Misconceptions

There are a few misconceptions about Ducks that I wish to clear up. First is that you do not need to have a pond or kiddy pool for Ducks to play in. As much as they do love it they will do just fine without it. Second is that Ducks do not need to fly South in the winter time. Wild Ducks will fly South for winter not because the temperature drops but for food. As long as your Ducks are being fed they won’t have any desire to fly South… or North. Ducks do not need any special “Duck feed.” They will eat anything any ordinary Chicken would. What Ducks do need though is a water source to drink from that they can dip their bills into. Ducks will drink water to wash down the food they store up in their throats. It helps to have a deeper water source to make this easier to do. I would recommend watching this video to see what I mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoUH5mUeKL8. Many people assume that because their city doesn’t allow Chickens they don’t allow Ducks as well. This, for the most part, is not the case. Many cities will specify that Chickens are not allowed but make no mention of Ducks or other birds. Just be sure to check with your local City Hall before making any plans just to be on the safe side. 

Comments | Posted in Poultry Articles By Steve Boyd

IncuTherm Plus Product Review

2/25/2015 3:52 PM

Having an accurate, reliable thermometer is crucial to having a good hatch. I recommend not using the bulb/red liquid thermometers that may be included with your incubator. The best place for those is the garbage. You can go to Wal-Mart and buy one for $10. Although this may be great for givng you an idea of the indoor temperature of your home, it is not designed to work in the 99.5 degree range for incubation.

 

If you ask me the IncuTherm Plus is the thermometer to use. This thermometer reads both temperature and humidity. The
temperature is rated to +/- 1 degree Fahrenheit in accuracy. A very helpful feature with the IncuTherm Plus is that it has a remote sensor, which allows you to place the senor where you need it in the incuabtor with the display/controls on the outside. When I used this thermometer I was using a HovaBator 1602N, the feature I found most useful was the min/max memory function. Before I went to bed I pushed the min/max button. When I woke up in the morning I was able to see how high the temperature got as well as how low it got. This gave me a good idea of what the average temperature was over several hours and I was able to adjust the manual thermostat accordingly. 

 

Another great use for the IncuTherm Plus is for building your own cabinet incubator. By using multiple IncuTherm Plus Hatch Monitors you can see in real time what the temperature is in different parts of the container. This helps you to find those hotspots and configure your incuabtor accordingly. 

You can't go wrong with the IncuTherm Plus. Learn More About the IncuTherm Plus.

Comments | Posted in Product Details By Steve Boyd
There a several things anybody hatching eggs should know. For simplicity sake I made a list of 5 things you should know for starting your hatch. If you would like a full guide on how to hatch eggs visit our Beginner's Guide to Hatching Eggs.
 
 
1. First and foremost, before you buy or collect your fertile hatching eggs make sure you have all your incubation equipment (i.e. Incubator, egg turner, thermometer etc.). Don’t wait until you have your eggs to buy your incubator.


2.  Place incubator in room where temperature stays fairly constant. This helps prevent large temperature swings during incubation.


3.  Stabilize air temperature in your incubator before setting eggs. This is especially important for manually adjusted thermostats.

 

4.  This one feeds off the last. Don’t panic if your temperature goes whacko after setting your eggs. This is completely normal. The reason is that the eggs bring with them a cooler temperature and it takes a few hours for the temperature to stabilize once again.


5.  Candle eggs after 3 days into incubation. If you don’t see any signs of development discard it. This prevents bad eggs from rotting and gives you a better idea of how many eggs are fertile. 

 

I hope you have a great hatch!

0 Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Steve Boyd

**Disclaimer: Not for the faint of heart or those who get queasy at the sight of blood**

We recently processed our own Turkeys. It was quite the adventure being my first time. I decided to document our process along the way to possibly help others that may be embarking on a similar journey as I had. I hope you can use my experience to avoid the mistakes that I made and maybe even apply some of my learnings for the next time you process a Turkey (or any bird for that matter). Please share any suggestions or tips you may have.

Materials Used:

- Fishing net

- Cage 

- Rubber gloves

- Box cutter blade

- Rope/twine

- Table 

- Large, Double-burner stove

- Large plastic tote

- Large freezer bags

Before wrangling up the Turkeys we started boiling two very large pots of water. This was in preparation for scalding and plucking the Turkeys later on. We used a large fishing net to capture the Turkeys and then placed them in a cage. I found this to be fairly easy since the Turkeys were so big and slow. We then carried the cage with as many Turkeys as we could fit over to our butchering station.

 

To slaughter the Turkeys we tied some strong wire/rope around the Turkey’s legs then strung them hanging upside down on the outside of a large cage. We then sliced their throats with a very sharp box cutter knife so that they would bleed out very quickly. I would suggest either using a large kill cone or hanging them in the open air. The reason I suggest this is because when we killed the Turkeys they would flap their wings for a couple minutes. Their wings kept slapping on the cage which tore some of the skin on the wings. Once they stopped we removed the head and moved them to the plucking station.

 

We scalded the turkeys by placing the boiling water in a large tote/tub. I dunked mine for a solid minute. Plucking was definitely the most tedious and time-consuming step.  When I started plucking the feathers I learned two things: first pull the feathers with the grain (I guess is the best way to say it) to avoid leaving tiny pieces of feather in the skin. The second lesson I learned was to pull the larger feathers first. Since it was a cold day the larger feathers such as the tail and wing feathers would harden back up making them harder to pluck.

I gutted the turkey by cutting a hole around the anus.  If I cut it well I could avoid the very fowl smell of the left-over… droppings. Let’s just say I learned my lesson after the first bird. I pulled out all the innards fairly easily; it was the small tissue/s left behind that were tricky to remove. It took me a while to do this. I then made a cut at the part where the neck meats the breast. Inside I found lots of recently eaten food. This was easy to remove. The skin peeled off the inside very easily and was cleaned out in a matter of seconds. 

 

After I was satisfied with cleaning out the insides I rinsed my turkey inside and out using a garden hose spigot. Since there
was fresh snow all around we were able to place the fresh turkeys in the snow while we moved on to the next ones.

 

Later that night at home I did another cleaning of the insides and I plucked the small pieces out of the skin that were left behind from plucking in the wrong direction. I did this with tweezers.  I gave it one last rinse and then wrapped the turkey as tightly as I could with plastic wrap. I then put the turkey in a new garbage bag and tried vacuum sealing the turkey using a household vacuum. It actually worked pretty well! I will be leaving it in my chest freezer until it’s ready for Christmas time.

 

5 Key Lessons Learned:

 

1. Rubber gloves come in handy, they help grip and just feel more sanitary.

 

2. Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty/stained

 

3. The bird will stay positioned how you leave it. What I mean by this is that as the rigor mortis sets in the turkey’s arms and legs will stick in the position you leave it in. Since it was such a cold day this happened during the plucking process. I would recommend banding the legs together as soon as you can and plucking the breast side first so that the wings can settle inward.

 

4. Use strong rope to tie up the turkey’s legs. They would sometimes break the cord we were using.

 

5.Pluck largest feathers first and always pull them out in the direction that they are pointing.

 

So take these learnings and maybe the next time you process your bird/s you will remember what I learned and be able to use it to your advantage. Happy Holidays!

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Steve Boyd

Here, in the Northern hemisphere the temperature has plummeted! Hatching season, for the most part, is over. Most of you will probably put your incubator in storage, but those who read this article will get the maximum amount of utility out of your incubator year-round! So take one of these ideas and put it to good use. (Note: This article is satirical; these ideas are not actually recommended).

 

1. Glove and sock Warmer. Who doesn’t love putting on a warm pair of socks or gloves 

 

2. Food warmer, Roll warmer – Keep your cooked food at a constant 99.5 degrees until it’s time to serve.before entering the cold?

 

3. Small Christmas gift hider – This is the last place your kids will think of to look for gifts!

 

4. Candy bowl for trick-or-treaters

 

5. Personal Floatation Device - Styrofoam incubators float great! (Note: this has not yet been approved by the coast guard, use at your own risk).

Comments | Posted in Poultry Articles By Steve Boyd

HumidiKit Product Review

11/4/2014 3:26 PM

In making this product review it was interesting since there isn’t anything to really compare the HumidiKit to. There are automatic humidity kits out there but they are all designed to only work with their own brand of incubators. The HumidiKit is the first Universal Automatic humidity system, meaning you can use it with any incubator regardless of size or brand.

 

Common incubator setups that I’ve seen have a few components that make it “automatic.” There’s the thermostat, which automatically regulates the temperature, and the automatic egg turner which automatically turns your eggs. For the most part you can “set it and forget it,” but what about humidity? Most incubators have a water tray at the bottom. This helps increase the humidity in the incubator, but is almost impossible to keep the humidity at a constant level throughout the incubation period because you have to constantly refill It. This is anything but automatic! When I first saw the HumidiKit in action I was surprised at how automatic this was! The humidity stays within such a tight range!  As I’m typing this we are incubating eggs in a large cabinet incubator and the humidity is staying between 39% and 41%. If you are like me, who wants to set the incubator up and let it do all the work, then the HumidiKit is the only piece you’re missing.

 

The HumidiKit has two main components: the humidifier, which actually pumps the humid air into the incubator and the hygrostat. A hygrostat is just like a thermostat only instead of regulating the temperature a hygrostat regulates humidity. 

 

I was also impressed at how easy the HumidiKit is to install to your incubator. It’s very simple: you just place the remote humidity and temperature probe inside the incubator, fill the bottle with water (distilled water is recommended), then insert the humidity tube into the incubator. Lastly is to plug in the HumidiKit to power and watch it go! It is also very simple to change the set humidity to your desired level .I personally prefer about 40%, whereas the default setting is 45%, and I like 75% for the last 3 days. It only took about 7 minutes to reach my set humidity level in the cabinet.

 

Bottom Line: If you  want a truly automatic incubator then buy the HumidiKit today and let your set up do all the work while also increasing your hatch rate.


0 Comments | Posted in Egg Incubator Reviews By Steve Boyd

Concerns About My Hens' Eggs

10/29/2014 2:46 PM

As your chickens begin to lay eggs, some concerns may come up. Most of these relate primarily to the health and conditions of the chickens and their environment. Here, however, we will discuss concerns focused mostly on the condition of the eggs laid.

A hen’s health and diet have a huge impact upon the eggs they lay. Make sure the environmental conditions and diet are as close to ideal as possible (Environment and diet are covered in other posts. Click on the link to see them.). This will increase egg health, whether eggs are produced to hatch live chicks or to eat, as well as increase the number of eggs produced. This is especially important when the eggs will be fertilized and incubated to produce chicks.

One of the most common side effects of insufficient diet is a thin shelled egg. This is caused by a calcium deficiency in the hen. To solve this problem, check the diet of the chickens. Remember, calcium is one of the dietary staples of all life, including chickens, particularly hens laying eggs. Eggs require large amounts of calcium, most of which creates the shell. It may be a good idea to add a calcium supplement to the diet. Many hen owners always add the calcium supplement when they know a hen will soon begin laying eggs.

On occasion, a chicken may lay an egg with no shell whatsoever. This is no cause for concern, as long as it is only a rare problem. This is an especially prevalent issue in young chickens, who are first getting the hang of egg-laying. However, if it happens more than very rarely, you should reexamine the amount of calcium in the chicken’s diet and the chicken’s overall health.

Egg With No Shell

On occasion, an egg may be laid without a shell. This is no cause for concern.

 

Dietary issues related to egg production are not caused exclusively by calcium deficiency. A variety of other imbalances can cause similar problems. For instance, too much salt in the diet may, potentially, cause many of the same problem as a calcium deficiency; however, it is much more common for the problem to be a lack of calcium.

The problem may also be with the environment. If the hens are disturbed during the night, especially by something they may perceive as a predator, it could cause a disturbance in egg production. An unclean or frequently disturbed habitat will almost always impact egg production negatively.

Illness may also negatively affect egg production. Infectious Bronchitis, also called IBV, is one of the more prevalent diseases in poultry. It primarily causes respiratory problems, but also can affect number and quality of eggs laid. Vaccination and revaccination can help prevent this disease, as will maintaining a clean and healthy environment. If you suspect one of your birds has IBV, remove it from contact with the others. Other illnesses will also disrupt egg production, and should be prevented as much as possible and dealt with if they surface.

There are some factors of egg production that are completely out of your control. If you are doing everything right, and the hen is still laying few or no eggs, it may be caused by a genetic or inborn problem that the hen naturally has. If a hen frequently lays eggs with thin shells, or no shell whatsoever, the problem may be a defective shell gland, which you can do very little about. These issues are relatively uncommon.

But, when all is said and done, a healthy hen in a proper environment with a balanced and nutritious diet should lay healthy, well developed eggs on a regular basis.

Comments | Posted in Poultry Articles By Michael Peterson

Bathing a Chicken

10/7/2014 10:30 AM

For a variety of reasons, your chickens’ overall cleanliness may become a concern. For this reason, people often wonder if it is okay to give a chicken a bath. The answer is yes, it is even beneficial.

Bathing your chickens should be done, when possible, at the same time you clean the coop. This will help both chickens and coop to stay clean for longer. There are a lot of positive side effects to having clean chickens and coop. This will help prevent disease and poor health. It will also help fight bad odors. However, it is important to note that bathing your chickens does not need to be done as frequently as coop-cleaning, as chickens ‘dust-bathe’— roll around in the dirt to get clean then shaking the dirt off and preening their feathers. There are situations in which bathing your chicken may be beneficial, usually when it is particularly dirty or smelly, sick, injured, or has filth (such as droppings) on it.

Hen Dustbathing

Chickens 'Dust-Bathing'

Cleaning the coop has already been discussed in a previous article, but how do you clean a chicken?

Chickens can be cleaned indoors or outdoors. You will need to containers— buckets, bathtubs, sinks or pretty much any other container you can think of will work. If you plan on bathing them outside, make sure the weather is warm and sunny. If you bathe them inside make sure you are prepared to deal with water splashed all over the place.

When you clean them, use a gentle soap or shampoo. DO NOT use harsh soaps, such as dish soap or vinegar (unless it is very diluted with water); these will strip oil from the feathers. Mix a little bit of the soap with water, and gently clean the chicken. Do not scrub or rub too hard, or try to pull grime off the feathers. You can just let them sit or you can plunge the chicken up and down in the water or use a sprayer nozzle.

When they are clean, rinse them in clean water. Follow the same procedure as used when washing them in the soapy water. When they are rinsed, make sure they are dry, especially if the weather is cold. Blow drying them works well. An extremely gentle towel dry will also work. You do not want to put the chickens back out if they are wet— even if it does not make them sick it will likely make them unhappy (as well as cause them to get dirty again more quickly).

After they are clean and dry, you may want to file or clip their nails. Do this carefully. You may also want to apply some products (such as lice powder) before you return them to their coop.

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Michael Peterson
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