Back in February we began filling the incubator with eggs every Monday evening. We put about 500 eggs in each week. We don't get a great hatch rate in February due to the cold weather. Our incubator is in our Morton building and it's difficult to keep the temperature from fluctuating. It's necessary to begin hatching the pullets early before we start filling the chick orders, once we start filling the chick orders the only pullets we get to grow are the chicks that are left over after filling the many orders. This is one reason it can take extra time to get your pullets to you.
Every Friday night eggs are moved from the incubator and into the hatcher. I know it looks like a giant dyer but it's a hatcher. It is actually an ostrich egg hatcher. The incubator we have was also for Ostrich eggs.
Once the chicks reach about 3 weeks of age the oldest ones are moved from the first brooder cage into the next, due to their fast growth they are separated and given extra room so as not to over crowd them. Over crowding can be a very big problem at this time and all measures are taken not to do so.
Once again the chicks out grow the brooder cage and the next phase is to move them out doors into the large grow out pens. They love it when they are finally out and on the ground it's quite a site to see as they run, leap and explore every nook and cranny of their new living quarters.
While chicks are being moved out doors all leg bands are checked and replaced if it looks like they are going to out grow them soon. The only breed that we band is the Olive Egger. They are banded at the time they are removed from the hatcher. Olives can look just like the Marans or the Ameraucana breeds so we make sure of no mix ups. Chicks out grow leg bands about every 2 weeks so this is a constant task of catch and release.
No I'm not catching butterflies I'm chasing pullets, we are beginning to fill orders and shipping them out. This is a very time consuming task. At this time I'm trying to distinguish between hen and rooster. We choose the best of the best to send out. This is a very stressful time, I make every effort to send out the highest quality birds to my customers. When I'm choosing a bird for my customers I do it as if I were choosing for myself. The pullets are between 6 and 8 weeks old when we ship them and they aren't fully colored out at this time so it's a difficult job.
You might wonder why bother with all that work when you can just ship out chicks. I have so many people contact me who want a hen or two in their back yard but can't have roosters. They live in big cities and small towns and want the ability to have fresh eggs. These folks have expressed they don't want just any old chicken they want a beautiful bird that lays a pretty egg.
So to all of my customers out there waiting on your sweet birds. I Just want you to know I'm working on growing them up beautiful and healthy for you but this isn't a process I can rush.
On shipping day, large poultry boxes are filled with shavings, sliced apples, packed and ready to go. Pullets ship very well at the age of 6 to 8 weeks old, younger birds at the age of 2 to 3 weeks do not ship well, it seems they don't have enough body weight at that age to survive long travel.
If your waiting on a pullet order to be sent out, drop us a comment and let us know why you chose pullets and not chicks.
Well I better get going I have birds to feed, water, move, band.....