Friday, April 28, 2017

When Are My Chicks Coming - Spring On The Farm

Spring has sprung and the crazy hustle and bustle has begun.  It's been awhile since I've had a chance to sit down and write a blog, I want to give you a peek into why it takes so long to fill those chick and pullet orders.  Right now is the time when every customer that has placed a chick or pullet order, comes down with a bad case of spring fever and wants to know when they'll get there shipment of fluffy butts.   I get about 20 or more emails and phone calls each day asking that very question.  I can guess a time frame for shipment but it really means nothing when dealing with chickens because they really don't care about my plans.  There are just too many factors to figure when guessing a shipping time, here are just a few of those factors to consider...

Beginning in early February we stop selling hatching eggs and we start filling the incubators with every egg possible.  Egg production is not good at this time and fertility is poor but we begin anyway as we try to get an early jump on raising up the young pullets.  Good fertility doesn't happen until warmer, sunny weather, so hatch rate is small and the process begins slowly.
Our incubators are located in a Morton building without heat so temps fluctuate which also effects hatch rate.  We hope to fix that problem in the near future.

We place eggs in the incubator every Monday night, usually about 8 trays and we have a hatch every Monday night.  It takes 21 days for an egg to hatch.
The photo to the left is the farmer working on an incubator as quickly as possible before the eggs get cold.  It seems that this was the year that all of our egg turner motors decided to have a break down, if eggs aren't turned, eggs don't hatch.  You might read that eggs need to be turned 3 times a day...wrong!  Our turner turns the eggs every hour, more turns, better hatch.  Just one more thing that effects the hatch rate.  In the back of this huge incubator is a fan blade that is as tall as me and it needs to turn and blow air across the eggs at just the right speed.  If it's the wrong speed it effects the hatch.  That's Just one more variable to figure into many others.
So when a customers asks why aren't my chicks here yet, should I say the turner broke down, the fan was blowing to fast, it was to cold for fertility, or the hens decided not lay an egg last month...

With every hatch of these sweet little fluffy butts it takes 7 to 8 weeks to grow one up big enough to confidently sex and to make sure that is has just the right body weight to ship safely in the mail as a started young pullet.  If that little girl is not old enough she can not stay warm enough in shipment, if she does not have a good body weight she can not with stand shipment and arrives at your home weak and susceptible to illness.  We make every effort to insure that they are well prepared for shipment.  If you have an order of young pullets with us, please don't make us feel rushed to get your order out, we know what we are doing, we've been doing this for a very long time and we do a great job.  If I feel rushed it causes me to make needless mistakes on guessing of the sex or sending a pullet out that is just to young to ship.  Allow us to do our job to the best of our ability, I promise we haven't forgot about your order and these birds are worth the wait!

We just purchased 3 more brooders just like this one to give us even more space to growout chicks into young pullets.  We like to raise them on wire not in shavings.  Shavings + poop + water = Illness.

Another factor to figure when wondering why it takes so long to get those sweet little fluffy butts. We keep our flocks small, over crowded birds are unhappy birds.  You might think more hens is better, not always the case if you don't have sufficient space to support all of those hens.  Over crowded hens are unhappy hens, which means fewer eggs.  It is by far better to keep your flocks small, you can't make birds produce any faster by cramming more birds in.

Be patient with us as we continue to work through the orders, we're hatching just as fast as the hens will allow.   We like our hens happy and healthy and you'll thank us for it when you see your healthy fat beautiful chicks. 
Have a great day, I'll be calling you soon to say your chicks are on the way!
Thanks Angie