Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

How hot was it!?! And hatching notes.

Today it was so hot that........ one of our turkey hens, Runner, actually jumped into our big livestock water trough! She walked around like a stork for a couple of minutes - what a hoot! And nope, I didn't have my camera but what a sight she was...that's our girl.

Lots of comings and goings this weekend so I thought I'd get a few farm notes down...

* We are down to three meat chickens - the rest of the creepy meats are chilling in the fridge. I'll part them up tomorrow and get them moved to the freezer.
* This frees up the big coop in the hen house and just in time. The Dozen chicks in the basement need to be moved right outside....right away. Today I shoveled out the coop and we'll start moving them over tonite. The only problem is - its going to be so hot this week. We'll move them when its coolest and keep a close eye on them.
* Talk about a surprise! I went downstairs to unplug the incubator so we could get rid of the unhatched eggs....and there was a chick! I almost started screaming because I was so surprised. So I laughed instead and took him directly out to Charlie - who welcomed him warmly. Then promptly left her nest. 
* Then we promptly took Charlie and the chicks out to their coop in the hen house. I'll keep them cooped up for a couple days just because the babies are so small - and to give Charlie a chance to get her strength back up after brooding. She'll start eating and drinking normally now. The cutest was when she and one of the chicks were getting some sips of goat milk from a little container. Its good nutrition for both of them - and they love it.
* We were able to move our angry turkey hen and her lone poult to a safe coop. But when we came home today we found the little poult stuck in the chicken wire! We got him free but the momma (who needs a name now) was very unhappy with us.
* Our other turkey hen who made a nest up in the tall grass got up from her nest yesterday. We went to check on her and found a bad egg - and she had moved away from the nest. We took up the bad egg and hoped she'd go sit back down...but today she was up again. So I took her up and gated her in a shady spot so she could cool down and relax.

One of our blog-pals had a nest with a bad egg and asked what to do about the dirty eggs. I thought I'd share what we do just in case someone else has a bad nest. To be sure there are a million reasons why an egg might break under a hen (or turkey!) - we've found that these heat-of-the-summer hatches don't do well. If the egg gets ruined by bacteria, or heat, its likely to either break or explode under your momma. The yucky stuff in the bad eggs can get all over the good eggs - and may ruin them.

Remember that eggs are porous - so that bad bacteria gets inside the eggs and causes them to go bad also. Its very disappointing. We were lucky that any of the eggs from our incubator hatched when we had an egg explode. So sometimes you get lucky.

The best thing to do if you have a ruined nest is to get it cleaned up as soon as you can. You also don't want your momma to get some kind of skin problem from all the gunk. You don't want to scare her off her nest, but you want to get things cleaned up and hope for the best. Its easiest to do this with a helper.

One of you picks her up (she'll be mad) the other carefully removes the eggs, gets rid of the gross stuff and bad straw. Then quickly put in good straw and the cleanest of the eggs, and put the momma back. Then you can evaluate the dirty eggs. If they look mud covered... chances are they aren't good anyway. And while you are holding your hen, turn her over and inspect her skin for lesions or infestations. You might need to clean her up also and a good dusting of DE is a good practice also.

If the eggs are just too dirty you might want to just get rid of them. Sometimes you can feel a heavier one - which could be a developing egg and try and clean it up. To me bad eggs feel lighter in weight and these should not be returned to the nest.  What do you do with bad eggs? Bury them DEEP (we use an auger) so that varmints - or our dog - doesn't dig them up. Or double or triple bag them and hope your garbage guy forgives you one day.

If you think some of the eggs are worth saving - if they are mostly clean, you can try and wipe them off. But the porous nature of eggs is weird - you dont want to wash them - it might make the bad bacteria permeate the eggshell and kill the egg. So you might just want to wipe them down with a dry-ish/damp paper towel. The big thing is to handle the eggs gently. If they are shaken or turned over quickly you might kill the developing egg.

Our feeling is you might as well try salvaging a clutch. While you might not have a full hatch, your momma will complete her broody cycle - which we think is important. If you just take her up from a bad nest she might be nuts for a couple days to a week. We think this sudden stop to a brood is hard on the hens. She might try and go back and sit down - on nothing. Or act funny (or just plain crazy) or go into a sudden molt.

If your hen quits a nest for whatever reason be sure to give her some extra TLC. Make sure she gets a good dust bath, a lot of water, and some high protein food. She might also be weak from her partial brood so we usually separate our nest-quitters from the rest of the flock so they can get their strength built back up. They won't be in any shape to work their way back into the pecking order - or run from a rooster - until they have a couple days rest.

So that's the whole hatch story around here. Hope everyone had a great weekend - are you ready for the heat this week?


David P. Offutt - The Gastronomic Gardener said...

Very informative post OFG. I didn't know any of that. Hot up here too ini Chitown and a trip to Tennessee promises to be even hotter. Stay cool!

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

I'm paying close attention to your "raising chickens" tutorials :o) one day I hope to use the lessons ...I'm still wishing , hoping , praying. to have some chickens (Even in my dreams :o)

Kristin @ Going Country said...

No, I am not ready. Not that I ever am. The sheep are trying to find viable grass in what are essentially dried-up desert pastures, the chickens spend all day hiding out under the boxwoods, and if we don't get some rain today (the only day in the next week of hellish temperatures when we even have a chance of it), things are going to be pretty desperate in the garden. I will lose plants, even with my attempts to water them on my own. My hose can't hold a candle to a good soaking from Mama N. Fingers crossed . . .

P.S. Heh. My word verification is "prayo". For raino, for sure. How appropriate.

Robin said...

Boy, this heat is definitely for the birds!! :)

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