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When your turkey poults begin to mature, it becomes necessary to move them from their brooder. Unlike most birds, you do not move turkey poults directly from a brooder to a coop or other more permanent environment. First they need to be placed in a ‘brooder house’. They will be in this brooder house for about six to eight weeks.

The brooder house is a hybrid between living in the brooder and living outdoors, and is meant as a sort of stepping stone between the two stages. The three most important aspects of a brooder house are temperature, sanitation, and proper feeding and watering. Also, be sure to make the brooder house extra big because the poults will be two to three times larger by the time they are ready to be moved to permanent outdoor quarters.

Artificial temperature should be provided somehow, usually by overhead heat lamps. Start at about 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Decrease it gradually. For the last two weeks the chicks are in the brooder house, they should not be receiving any artificial heat.

Brooder House

An Example Brooder House

The floor of the brooder house should be clean and sanitized, then covered with wood shavings or a similar type of flooring. Make sure it stays dry, and change it out every one to two weeks to help prevent disease. Some turkey farmers also recommend keeping feed and water dishes a few inches above the ground to prevent contamination. Watch closely for disease, particularly blackhead. There are various products designed to prevent and kill diseases. Some work, some don’t. It may be necessary to separate or kill diseased birds from the flock.

Fresh water and turkey mash are still the staples of the poults’ diet at this point, but you can and should start adding fresh greens and vegetables to their diet. Chop it finely, and give them small amounts. This is a great nutritional benefit for the growing poults.

Because the brooder house is a step towards fully outdoor life, it is important to begin exposing them to conditions similar to those they will find outside, particularly sunlight. Make sure they have some exposure to sunlight every day. Also be sure they have good ventilation in their brooder house. It may be a good idea to connect the brooder to an outdoor area during the last few weeks. For the first 10 to 14 days, expose them to little ventilation, and carefully protect them from drafts. During the last 7 to 10 days, give them maximum ventilation to help them adapt to outdoor temperature and weather.

After they are about ten weeks old, they will be ready to move into outdoor life. More details on this will be covered in a later post.

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Michael Peterson

Deciding you want to take up hatching and raising your own birds is really exciting, but also can be quite daunting. One thing you will need to do is decide what species of bird you want to hatch. Someone hatching birds for their functional use probably already knows what type of bird they want to hatch, because they are hatching the birds for the specific things that species of bird can do. But for a hobbyist, or someone just getting into hatching birds, this decision may be a little more challenging.

 

There are several things to consider. Mortality rates, the amount of effort required to hatch the eggs, the amount of resources required to hatch the eggs, useful features of the bird (for example, a good meat bird or egg laying bird), and the availability of eggs are all important things to consider. Pick whichever bird appeals most to you. You may want to look up pictures of what the chick and the adult bird look like, especially as a hobbyist or someone else who may rather have the cutest bird than the most useful one.

     

 

There are several major bird species that people commonly hatch. Here is a list of them and some pros and cons.

 

   

Eggs in Incubator


            

           Chickens:

  • High egg availability— it is not difficult to find someone selling chicken eggs.

  • Easy to hatch and care for. Chickens are among the easiest birds to incubate, especially for a novice. Also, they do not take long to hatch.

  • Small, lightweight eggs. Easy to ship and transport.

  • Useful bird— chickens are good producers of eggs and meat.

  • Chickens are more susceptible to disease and may require more vaccinations and veterinary check-ups.

  • Even if you don’t have a rooster, chickens can be somewhat loud compared to other common birds.

   

 

Ducks:

  • Quieter, relatively peaceful birds.

  • Once they are mature, they have much higher resistivity to temperature and weather changes than many other common birds, due to a layer of oily, waterproof outside feathers.

  • Able to forage for a lot of their food. This decreases feeding costs and rids the area of unwanted pests and aquatic plants.

  • A little harder to hatch, with higher mortality rates. Also slightly harder to raise to adolescense

  • Visually appealing bird as a chick and an adult.

   

 

 

Turkeys:

  • Excellent meat bird— more meat produced per pound of feed than any other common poultry bird.

  • Traditional value— Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.

  • Somewhat easier to keep alive in the first 72 hours than other birds— these first few days are some of the most dangerous for birds.

  • Larger eggs usually require a specially bought turkey egg tray, as opposed to a generic duck/chicken egg tray.

  • Harder to find eggs to buy.

  • Susceptible to ‘blackhead’ disease in some areas.

 

   

Quail:

  • Require very little space, especially in the first few days.

  • Easier to get in bulk. Quail eggs usually come in much larger quantities and many more can fit in an incubator.

  • They require very little attention, feed, or veterinary care.

  • They mature quickly.

  • They can be a very valuable bird to sell.

  • They are more resilient to disease than other birds, and have a low mortality rate.

  • Can be more easily injured. This makes them less appealing to children, who usually want to hold and pet the chicks, sometimes a little roughly. Quails are a bird that should be disturbed infrequently.

  • Also require a specially sized rack in the incubator.

 

 Fortunately, all these birds are hatched and raised in very similar ways. The incubation process and temperatures are very similar between different species, as are brooder specifications. This makes it easier to attempt multiple species (at different times, or, at least, in different incubators.

 Once you have decided what species you want to incubate, you will want to identify what breed of that species to get. For instance, if I decide I want to incubate chickens, I then need to determine whether I want Broiler, Leghorn, Brahma, etc. Use the same factors as you used to decide species.

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Michael Peterson

People have several reasons for raising birds. Among the most common is raising them for healthy, natural meat. Many people want to focus specifically on raising their own Thanksgiving Turkey. Aside from being a centuries-old traditional mainstay, turkey meat is lean, healthy, and nutrient rich, and is considered by many nutritionists to be ‘superior protein’. Turkeys also give more meat per pound of feed than any other common poultry bird. But where to begin?

 

 

Thanksgivivng Turkey

 

Turkeys give more meat per pound of feed than

Any other common poultry bird

 

The first step of raising your own Thanksgiving Turkey is breed selection. Pick the breed based upon three factors. First, how much meat it gives, especially in comparison to how much feed it will take. Secondly, how easy it will be to take care of. Some breeds are naturally a little bit more difficult to take care of or have a slightly higher mortality rate. Thirdly, consider how easy it will be to aquire eggs or poults (another name for turkey chicks). You do not want to pay too much for them and, if you are getting poults, you do not want them to have to travel very far. Even if you only want one mature turkey, it is probably wise to get a few birds. There is a chance of it dying, and you probably won’t have time to attempt to raise another bird in time for Thanksgiving. If you end up with more birds than you want it shouldn’t be to difficult to trade or sell the extra birds.

If you bought eggs, incubate them to the hatching point, then place them in a brooder. If you bought poults, put them directly into the brooder. Make sure the brooder is as sanitary as possible. Detailed instructions on these incubation and brooding phases are available in other blog posts, specifically those under the label ‘Learnings of a First-Timer’ or the article ‘How to Care for Newly Hatched Chicks’.

Watch the poults carefully, especially when they are very young. Look for sicknesses. The article ‘Treating a Sick Chicken’ is specifically about chickens, but the advice will work well for poultry in general. Also watch for their droppings to become stuck to their backsides. This is called “pasting-up” and can cause disease or infection leading to death. If this occurs, DO NOT try to remove it, just put a few drops of mineral oil on it and it will slowly come off on its own.

After 16 to 28 days, the poults should be moved out of the brooder. Move them to a ‘brooding-house’. This is a larger area, still protected from the elements, that is something of a hybrid between a brooder and the outdoor area the birds will live in later. Specifics on how to properly construct a brooder house will be covered in a later post.

When they are about ten weeks old, they will be ready to be moved outside full-time. More details on how this should be done will also be covered in a later post.

   

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Michael Peterson
                   HumidiKit- Automatic Humidity System
                                                                     
                   HumidiKit - Automatic Humidity System
                                                                             

Many of our customers have expressed frustration over the hassle of maintaining the humidity inside their incubators. Many of the frustrations have been over having to constantly add water and being able to accurately control the humidity.

We here at IncubatorWarehouse.com are excited to introduce our latest product, the HumidiKit, for automatic and accurate humidity control to alleviate these frustrations.

Features Include:

Simple Installation – The HumidiKit is designed to be easy to use with most incubators. To install the HumidiKit you simply:

1. Fill the included water bottle with distilled water (recommended) and screw on the bottle adapter
2. Insert the bottle onto the humidifier
3. Insert the probes into the incubator
4. Insert the tube into a vent hole
5. Plug in the HumidiKit to power
6. Set the hygrostat to your desired average humidity



Adjustable Digital Hygrostat –
A hygrostat is a device that works very similarly to a thermostat that controls temperature except a hygrostat controls the humidity. The hygrostat has a set of probes that are inserted into the incubator that measure the humidity and automatically switches the humidifier on and off as the humidity rises and falls. The hygrostat is able to be set to almost any desired humidity level to accurately provide a stable humidity range.

Humidification System - The Humidikit’s humidification system uses ultrasonic technology to instantly provide humidity which is gently blown into the incubator. The humidification system also provides fresh air to help keep the eggs healthy.  We have also found that using distilled water in the HumidiKit not only provides a more sanitary environment for the eggs it also extends the life of the system.

1 Liter Capacity – The water bottle that is included with the HumidiKit has a 1 liter capacity. For most tabletop incubators this means that the water bottle typically only needs to be filled once a week during the regular incubation period.

Expandable Tubing – The expandable tubing will expand to 30 inches and fits into most vent holes allowing the HumidiKit to be compatible with most incubators.

IncubatorWarehouse.com’s One-year No Hassle Guarantee – We stand behind our products and have great customer service.

To learn more or to purchase the HumidiKit click here.

Have Questions? E-mail us at service@incubatorwarehouse.com or call (208-740-1344) and a customer service representative will happy to help.

2 Comments | Posted in Product Details By Evan Cornia

Treating a Sick Chicken

5/6/2014 2:38 PM

 Just as disease can be a problem for humans, chickens are susceptible to disease. Any variety of illnesses can infect your chickens, some are caused by something you do, some are not. It is often possible to successfully treat these diseases on your own. However, we should first go over some common symptoms of chicken illnesses, listed below.


  • The chicken won’t eat or drink very much or anything at all.

  • It doesn’t go to the bathroom, goes too often, or has odd-colored, runny, or too-thick fecal matter.

  • It avoids other chickens that usually it stays around.

  • A flock that is normally temperate suddely pecks at it or avoids it.

  • It’s wings droop or drag.

  • It’s eyes become discolored and/or discharge fluid.

  • Bald patches start to be visible anywhere on the body.

  • It moves very little and with dificulty, or acts as if movement is painful.

  • It sleeps too much or too little.

  • The ‘vent’ has a bulge near it or is clogged.

  • Sneezing or coughing.

  • Any other abnormal behavior or physical signs may be indication of disease.

   

So how do you treat a diseased chicken? First, do a careful inspection of the chicken. Check everywhere, for anything you can think of. Try to determine what the source of the problem is. You may or may not be able to determine the problem, and even if so, you may not know what to do for the problem, but often you do.

Think about things you may haved changed in the chicken’s environment recently, or other factors that may affect a chickens health. Is it eating new feed? Is it free-ranging in a new area? Is it an old chicken? These questions and questions like them may help determine the source of the problem.

If you still can not determine anything that might help, it may be necessary to see the vet.

You will also want to isolate the chicken as soon as possible. This will allow the chicken to rest, as well as allow you to give it more special attention and more closely moniter it, particularly it’s feces, which can be a significant indicator of illness. Also, it will prevent the spread of disease among your flock.

Try to analyze things that mayhave caused the disease. Excessive heat may be a culprit. Make sure the chickens have enough shade and cool water. If you are using any kind of fertilizer or weedkiller in the area they freerange in or any other area near them, it will probably cause health problems to the chickens. These should never be used anywhere near chickens.

But determining symptoms and eliminating hazards may only be half the battle. You also need to care for the bird and do what is nessecary to treat the disease. Keep the chicken in a dry, warm area, preferably one where you can moniter it closely. If it won’t eat regular food, try feeding it crushed up food or food mixed with a little bit of water. Try to make sure it is drinking plenty of water. Keep the area you have it in as clean as possible.


 

Indoor Chicken Area

An Area like this may be Ideal for keeping your Chicken indoors while you moniter it's Health


As far as treating the disease goes, the procedure depends upon the ailment. There are many home remedies out there that may help. This link may be helpful. Look up the specific symptoms your bird has and see what results come up. If you cannot find a suitable treatment, or if the treatment fails to yeild results, it may be necessary to contact a veterinarian. Even if a single bird is not worth the expenses of a trip to the vet, the disease may be contagious and the vet might just give you advice that will save your entire flock.

While you treat the sick bird, keep a close eye on all your other birds. The disease may have spread to the other birds or baceria may be living in an area the chickens frequent. If they exhibit any of the same symptoms, it may be necessary to deep clean the entire cage or take other drastic measures.

For more information, try this link.

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Michael Peterson

    Incubating and hatching eggs have more benefits than a useful chicken as an end result. This is the common reason people hatch eggs, but people are, more and more, exploring the educational opportunities that come from incubating and hatching eggs. Many teachers are bringing incubators into the classroom to give the children they teach an excellent hands-on educational opportunity. Taking care of an egg all the way through the hatching and early life of the chick is a wonderful way to learn important life skills and natural science. Of course, it is also very fun!

 

Chicks


A few things should be considered before you attempt this. Obviously, you should check with the school administration to make sure you aren’t breaking any rules. You also want to be sure you have home for the chicks to go to after they are raised. Send notes home with the students asking if any of them keep chickens or talk to local farmers to see if anyone is willing to adopt the chicks. Most likely, not all the eggs will survive, but make accommodations for all of them, just in case. It is better to have too many places for them to go than not enough.

    Think carefully about what type of chicks you want to attempt to hatch. Chickens are probably easiest, and so they are probably the best choice. Chance of success is one of the most important factors to look at, you want to have as many survive as possible, especially because children may take the loss of eggs or chicks especially hard. Also, the children will likely be a little rougher on the eggs and less sanitary than adults, and so chance of survival is diminished. To improve chance of success, make sure the students wash their hands before and after handling eggs, chicks, or any of their equipment.

    Another major factor is what the chicks will require after they hatch. You probably want chicks that are easier to care for and require less attention, as you probably don’t want to take them home every night, and you don’t want to have to spend too muc extra money on food and equipment.

    Before the eggs ever arrive, prepare the incubator and make sure it is set. Also prepare the brooder well before the eggs hatch. Put it in a place where it will not be a distraction to students, but will be easily accessible during break times. You probably want to make sure there is enough space around it for a sizable crowd to gather. Have the students help you prepare these areas.

    Be sure to involve the students as much as possible, after all, this is a project designed to benefit them! Inform them about everything that is happening with the eggs, and let them assist in their care. Let them help you as much as possible. It may also be fun to have them name the chicks.


 

How to Hold a Chick

 

Holding Chicks Carefully Will Help Them Survive

 


    Make sure all your students understand the care and caution required to successfully hatch eggs. Help them learn that dirty hands or being too rough can hurt or kill the egg. However, don’t be overly upset if they are not as careful as you hope, they are just kids and probably don’t mean to be careless, they just don’t understand how delicate an egg or chick is. Remember that a lot of damage occurs invisibly and an egg can be killed or damaged with no damage to the shell, so be wary of more than just dropped or crushed eggs.

    Lastly, make sure this is a fun and involved experience for the children. This is the most important thing to do, and the goal of the project. Give them the hands-on opportunity to learn through interaction and observation. You probably want to learn about biology (especially that of the chicken, or whatever species you choose.) as you care for the eggs. And remember, hatching chicks is fun and educational. Be enthusiastic, and the students will share your enthusiasm and be able to have a wonderful experience.

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Michael Peterson

Spring is on the way! The snow is melting, the cold weather is becoming warm, plants are sprouting, and you have probably noticed a tremendous mess in your chicken coop. How do you even begin to clean it up?

Just like your house and the rest of your yard, you chicken coop needs some spring cleaning. Every so often, a chicken coop needs to be deep cleaned, and spring is a good time to do this. But the task may seem pretty daunting. Here are a few pointers.

First off, remember that there is no ‘proper way to clean a chicken coop’. The important thing isn’t the exact process, but the fact that it all gets done and gets done well.

Before you begin cleaning, the chickens need to be removed from the coop. Wear a mask over your mouth and nose to keep from breathing in bacteria while cleaning. Inhaling the particles that are kicked up during the cleaning process can be very harmful, as they are covered in disease.You will probably want to wear heavy-duty cleaning gloves, too.


Chicken Coop

 

The first part of the actual cleaning is to clean all the removable fixtures in the coop, such as feeders, waterers, and possibly roosting areas, if those are also removable. Having removable roosting areas will make your job a lot easier. Take the removable accessories out, dispose of their contents, and thoroughly clean them by scrubbing them down with water mixed with a very small amount of disinfectant (such as dish soap or vinegar). Let them dry completely before putting them back in the coop.

Next, clean out the main coop area. This is done in a similar way to the way you cleaned the parts before. Using a shovel and broom, remove all dirt and manure, taking care to get the edges, too. Then scrub it with the same mixture you used before. Let it dry. The longer the inside of the coop is wet or damp, the more bacteria will remain, so allow it as much ventilation as possible to help it dry quickly.

After the coop and other items are dry, put the removable accessories back. Put more floor covering down, but do not put the old floor covering back in, as the bacteria in it will still remain, and your hard work will be wasted.

Then you will be able to put the chickens back into their new, cleaner home.

Many preventative measures can also be taken to ease the deep cleaning process, such as cleaning the feeder and waterer or emptying the rooster boxes on a regular basis. The more frequently you do stuff like this, the less work you will have later, and the healthier your chickens will be, due to more sanitary conditions. Many people also claim cleaning the coop more frequently increases egg production.

Ideally, you will deep clean your coop more often than once a year. A good cleaning every few months will benefit your chickens’ health and egg-laying. Also, before you put new chicks in the coop, it may be a good idea to deep clean the coop to create a safer environment to put them in.



Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Michael Peterson

Poultry incubators are great. With one piece of equipment, you can hatch virtually any type of common poultry bird. With simple and easy adjustments, chickens, turkeys, ducks, quail and a host of other birds can all be successfully hatched in the same generic incubator. But is that all an incubator can do?

 

It’s not. What many people do not realize is that a poultry incubator can be used for reptile eggs also!

   

With minor changes and different techniques, a poultry incubator can serve equally well for many different species of reptile. Reptiles are a fascinating type of animal, and hatching them is a hobby quickly growing in popularity, with good reason. The many different types of reptile offer a wide assortment of wonderful opportunities for people of all ages and interests.

Reptile Eggs

Reptile Eggs in Incubation Medium

 

Before attempting to hatch reptile eggs in a poultry incubator, there are some fundamental differences between incubation of poultry and reptiles that you need to understand. The first is turning the eggs. Poultry eggs need to be turned several times a day, but if a reptile egg is turned most of the time the egg will either die or the infant inside will be permanently damaged in some way. This is a simple problem to fix when using a bird incubator. Don't turn them manually, or if it has an automatic turner, just disable or remove it.

   

Another crucial difference is that reptiles require what is called ‘Incubation Medium’. Poultry eggs are placed on wire flooring, plastic racks, or pretty much any other surface and can simply be set there. Reptile eggs must be placed in an 'Incubation Medium'—a porous, mold-resistant, sand-like substance. Many things can serve as a passable incubation medium, including sand (baked to kill bacteria), but most people opt to buy professionally created incubation medium, because it is more sterile, resists mold better, holds humidity and temperature better, and is very light and porous, allowing the egg to ‘breathe’. Most people feel that store bought incubation mediums are well worth the money, as they tend to have much higher hatch rates than most other substances.

   

Reptile eggs also require temperatures and humidities that can be significantly different than those required by poultry. Some poultry incubators may have difficulty maintaining these temperatures, but with perseverance and a little creativity a simple solution can be found.

 

Conveniently, most reptile species are better able to handle minor temperature and humidity fluctuation than poultry species. A lot of this is due to the incubation medium’s ability to retain constant temperature and humidity. So investing in a better incubation medium will likely pay off, especially if your incubation conditions are less stable.

Keep in mind that the variation between reptile breeds is a lot more drastic than that of poultry. Research the species you are going to hatch thoroughly to find find ideal temperature, humidity, and other incubating specifics.

Also, many people talk about home-making reptile incubators. This can work and can be a great DIY project.  We have many of the parts and pieces you may need to accomplish this task. 

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Michael Peterson

    Many people who own poultry birds own more than one type of bird. Chickens, ducks, and turkeys are all common backyard fowl and it is common for a bird owner to have a combination of these species in their flock. But can these birds be kept together?

 

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer.

 

Keeping multiple species together seems to work reasonably well. Many people who own multi-species flocks keep them together, for at least part of the time. Some just keep them together during the day but have them sleep seperately. Whenever combining species, there are certain drawbacks, risks, and special considerations to make.

 

The most important component in blending a flock is space. One question people have about blending their flocks is whether or not the various birds will fight. If they are in confined areas, it is likely that they will. But if you provide them with enough space, much of this trouble can be avoided. You will still get a few small confrontations, mostly for show, but it is unusual to have major issues with birds fighting cross-species. Also, if you keep their area clean it will help.

 

Even though fights are unlikely, the birds may try (unsuccessfully) inter-species breeding. This usually isn’t a problem. If it becomes a problem, it may be necessary to seperate the species.

 

A Mixed Breed Flock

 

When done carefully, a Mixed Flock can be

Very Convenient.


 

Another big issue people face is Blackhead disease, which is highly uncommon in most places nowadays. This is a disease that doesn’t have much affect on chickens. However, they are carriers of the disease and can easily give it to turkeys which have a very low resistance to this disease and can die from it. Again, keeping their space clean will help prevent this. And as previously mentioned, this disease is rare.

   

Additional care needs to be taken when ducks are a part of the flock. They are messy and love to splash around in their water, getting it everywhere. Chickens and turkeys can become sick or just unhappy when exposed to so much water and mud. Enough space should solve this problem. You may also want to consider having multiple ponds or watering areas.

   

The situations described above are specific to adolescent or adult birds. Very young birds, chicks especially, should usually not be combined with birds of other species.

   

But these are just some cautions to be considered. When all is said and done, combining bird species can be very convenient and helpful. It should be done carefully, and the risk should be understood, but most flock owners agree that creating a multi-species flock will usually work well.

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Michael Peterson

Can I Eat My Backyard Chicken?

3/17/2014 10:27 AM

Throughout time, chickens have been bred for two specific purposes. The first and most obvious purpose is the healthy, nutrient-rich eggs they lay. The second is their meat, which is an excellent source of lean protien. Nowadays, many people utilize chickens' egg laying capabilities, but many people wonder if it is okay to eat the chickens you raise in your own backyard. People usually consider this when they are deciding what to do with a hen that has stopped laying eggs or an obnoxious rooster.

The simple answer is yes, you can eat your chickens. However, chickens too old to lay eggs usualy produce tough, chewy meat. Younger chickens in their prime are are much better to eat, but the meat will still be tougher that what you buy at the grocery store. (This makes sense. The meat you buy at the store is usually from birds confined to cages all day, who rarely use their muscles. Also, these chickens are specifically and intentionally fattened.) One solution many people try is slow-cooking the bird. This will help, but not typically solve, the problem.

When eating a backyard chicken, it is especially important to clean and cook the meat well, as salmonella can be a concern if the meat is not properly prepared.

Meal Made from a Homegrown Chicken

Also, please be sure to kill the chickens humanely. There are many ways to do this. Many people prefer the 'Cone Method'. More information on this method can be found at this site. Aside from fresher, healthier meat, one reason people commonly raise and kill their own chickens is to make sure they live and die humanely.

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Michael Peterson
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