Its nearing Easter Sunday as this article is written and many people will be wanting to make it extra special for themselves or for their children. Hatching chickens can be a great way of making that day extra special and really doesn’t cost a lot nor take much effort. In this article we will talk about why you might want to hatch your own chickens, the benefits of owning your chickens, what issues you might have and the basics of looking after them.
How to hatch your own chickens
Hatching your own chickens can be done by two different methods. The first is completely naturally and relies upon you already owning your own chickens. You will obviously need a cockerel to ensure that your eggs are fertile and you will want to be using a breed which is happy to sit on eggs and is known to be a reliable hatching chicken. Warren’s aren’t the greatest and only some are what’s known as broody. Broody means that they want to hatch chicks and you require a broody hen to hatch eggs.
The unnatural way of hatching uses an incubator. A good incubator doesn’t cost a lot of money and seven egg models are readily available. I use a seven-egg version at home and have hatched several batches of eggs. In an incubator you can use your own fertile eggs like above, or buy your eggs from a seller. We have bought special breeds off auctions websites such as eBay and raised lots of chickens this way. By buying eggs from a different breeder also reduces inbreeding in your clutch of chickens. Inbreeding is something we must always be aware of and if you breed chickens that are inbred it can lead to issues with the chickens themselves and potentially reduce the proportion of eggs that will hatch chickens.
Benefits of owning your own chickens
There are load of benefits to owning your own chickens in my opinion. The first is that it is a lot of fun and can add a certain aspect to the grounds of your house. Young children love looking at chickens and this is another reason to go for rare breeds. Some breeds such as Jersey Giants, Light Sussex and others look very different from what children would consider to be a normal chicken. If you want smaller chickens then go for what are regarded as Bantams that are smaller and better suited to smaller spaces.
The second benefit of owning chickens is probably the most obvious. The eggs. Natural free-range eggs are totally different to your conventional mass produced ones, even ones that are labelled as free range. Expect the eggs to vary massively in size, have a bit of dirt on them and be much yellower than you would normally expect.
Issues with chickens
Chickens don’t make much noise. A bit of clucking but the main issue is the poo and the space they need. If you have a cockerel they will make much more noise and potentially be aggressive. I have had several cockerels that have attacked me or others, which normally means they are best put down and into the pot. You need to decide if you want your chickens to live in a pen or let them run free. I prefer to have a large pen to protect them from foxes, and at home I let them out when I am going to be outside in the daytime.
Basics of looking after chickens
The basics of looking after chickens are:
- Food and water - chicken feed and water in plastic containers outside the chicken hutch.
- Shelter - Chicken hutch.
- Protection – fencing or building a hutch to reduce the risk of predators like foxes.
I think looking after chickens can be great but a little preparation will help massively. Do you look after chickens? What advice would you give to someone want to keep their own? Feel free to leave a comment below.