Incubating Incubators

A new incubator for a new side-project

It says a great deal about the time of year that most of this blog is currently dedicated to eggs and seeds – I suppose that in winter it’s devoted to ferrets and wildfowl, so there’s probably some sort a balance between the two.

Just wanted to document the fact that my girlfriend has embarked upon a quest to breed some of the greatest broody hens ever to sit on eggs. The old gamekeeping techniques which I’m working towards relied upon a good supply of hens to hatch pheasants and partridges and then brood them to the stage at which they could be released. I’m still waiting for my bantams to go broody this year, which is pretty frustrating. The biggest problem is the fact that I only have two birds which are eligible for service, and waiting for them to settle doesn’t fit very neatly with the arrival of eggs.

It’s obvious that I need to expand my flock a little, and while one of my silkie x sussex bantams is finally showing signs of settling this evening, I need more birds to give me more options next year. Part of the problem is that the old gamekeepers used to hire or keep their own purpose bred broody hens, and there was a demand for birds which could reliably sit. Nowadays, the demand has diminished to such an extent that unless you’re prepared to keep your own birds, you’ll struggle to get hold of suitable candidates come hatching season.

In order to bulk out our incubation potential, my girlfriend has been online and bought silkie and pekin hatching eggs. Both breeds are known for their ability to brood, and the pekins have the pleasing potential to take care of little partridge eggs where larger birds might struggle. She then plans over the next few years to cross breed them all into an incubation task force of clocking mongrels which ought to fit the bill nicely.

The entire cocktail of eggs has gone into a new incubator (ex demo model – an Italian Corti fully automatic forced air 50 egg which buzzes and hums to such an extent that you can hear it from two rooms away), and God only knows what will come out in 21 days.


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