Things to consider before Hatching Chicks

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Foxy

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Things to consider before Hatching Chicks
« on: August 03, 2009, 21:28 »


There is no doubt it is a magical experience hatching your own chicks, watching the whole process is incredible, and there is nothing cuter than a day old chick or duckling! If you have been keeping chickens for a while it can seem like a natural progression, hatching your own, however, there are certain considerations to think about first. Hopefully this article will give you some food for thought!

The burning question before even thinking of buying/making that incubator – what to do with the surplus boys? Unless you hatch hundreds the ratio always seem to favour boys –this can be up to 70% of course you might be lucky, but if you just need a few layers, think again and maybe buy a few days olds already sexed. Getting rid of surplus cockerels is always hard, if they are pure bred, you might be able to find a few takers, breeders looking for new stock, however if they are not pure–bred it is very difficult, and the sad news is that if you off-load to a local auction they will more than likely find there way to the local Chinese restaurant, or maybe used as “practise” for the illegal sport of cock-fighting.

Start by researching the breed, do you know any breeders reasonably close who might be interested in a spare cockerel? Networking through local poultry clubs is a good place to start, you will have to join one to be able to advertise your spare stock though.

Check where you purchase you hatching eggs from, those wonderful, rare gold-laced, chocolate, champion bred orpingtons may hatch into something rather different if you are not careful! If possible, visit the breeder, see the parent stock and collect your hatching eggs, the health of the parent stock will have a major influence on the quality and vigour of the chicks, and believe you me having to cull young chicks that don’t thrive or are too poorly is truly heart-breaking!

Of course you could always raise a few for the freezer, be prepared though to do the “deed” yourself or find someone competent and trained to do it for you. Have a look around for courses to how to kill and prepare for the table yourself, there are some courses advertised on this website.

Finally, cockerels will eventually “crow” and some may even start as early as 7 weeks old, this unless, you have no neighbours can increase the pressure to get rid of the birds quickly and be very, very stressful for everyone concerned. While a cock crowing is a lovely natural sound far preferable to a ghetto blaster, however, at 4.30am in the morning your neighbours might struggle to see it from that perspective! You have been warned!!

 

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wildwitchy

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Re: Things to consider before Hatching Chicks
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2010, 01:59 »
Very good advice. I always get annoyed when people have cockerels or play about at hatching eggs, get boys, then say about the noise of cockerels! Well why have them then!!

I'd much rather hear a cockerel than city noises or the noises that some people make any day!

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madcat

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Re: Things to consider before Hatching Chicks
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2010, 09:14 »
I get cross with the 'vegetarians' with the holier than thou attitude   of 'no animal died for me' who eat eggs and diary produce.  I know this attitude doesn't apply to all veggies and I am not tarnishing all with the same brush, but some people!!  What do they think happens to the cockerels and bull calves???    :mad:  I know - mostly they just don't think it thro' -  and the reaction of men in particular when it is explained in short form can be interesting ...... :dry:

All we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about (Charles Kingsley)

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GrannieAnnie

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Re: Things to consider before Hatching Chicks
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2010, 09:48 »
Good advice Foxy!  I try to re-home when I can, especially when other people bring their cockerels to us, but if not, they go in the pot!

But not everyone can do that, but so many get tempted by the 'cute little chickies'!

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wildwitchy

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Re: Things to consider before Hatching Chicks
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2010, 13:09 »
yes, those cute little chickies can grow remarkebly fast into very noisy (alot of the time) all be it, very handsome cockerels!

and we are coming up to that cute little chickie time of year yet again  :ohmy:

I find it sickening to think some poor cockerels will be used as a training object for those fighting cocks.. :mad: :mad: If anyone does rehome spare cockerels, please do home checks etc as to where your birds are going if possible. Am I being daft? I'd rather see them go in the pot than be subjected to that, at least you get a good free range meal & its a humane death for them.

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gsc

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Re: Things to consider before Hatching Chicks
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2010, 08:14 »
Oh gosh - was just thinking how great it would be for the grandkids to hatch some chicks but never thought about the boys.

Don't think I could put them in the pot myself.

How old are they when they are ready for the pot, and are they really worth eating, ie could you give them to some-one who knows how to deal with them?  Or would you be giving them something that's pretty worthless?

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joyfull

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Re: Things to consider before Hatching Chicks
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2010, 08:51 »
when they start to crow usually as most people can't keep cockerels. So this could be from the age of 10 weeks onwards - but at this age there isn't much meat on them (unless they are a meat breed) usually it is around the 26 week stage. Very few people want cockerels to keep and you would have to check out whoever does have them as cock fighting still goes on and you boys could end up as a training aid. If you have a friend who could dispatch them swiftly then that would be the way to go although you may have to put up with the crowing for a few weeks  :)
Staffies are softer than you think.

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wildwitchy

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Re: Things to consider before Hatching Chicks
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2010, 09:06 »
I've still got my brahma boy Adolf (I'd never ever rehome him  :wub:)) but 2 of his sons (woody & flojoe) I rehomed. Luckily for them they went to a harem of hens.

Some cocks have a decent amount of meat on them (check the breast bone) others are scrawny *. I'd rather them go as pets tbh than the pot in all honesty as i'd hand reared them etc etc.

As Joy said, be very careful who you pass your boys onto. I was extreamly fussy when I rehomed my two & turned down several enquires including one "foreign" person that wanted a cockerel as a pet for their young son?? I don't think so! I've kept in touch with the people who've had my two boys which is nice.

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gsc

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Re: Things to consider before Hatching Chicks
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2010, 10:53 »
OK I'm convinced - no hatching foe me.

Incidentall - how old till you can tell the sex?

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wildwitchy

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Re: Things to consider before Hatching Chicks
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2010, 11:00 »
I've always found sexing difficult unless they're a autosexing breed. Sometimes boy chicks will be more upright/taller, active, their tail & wing feathers longer than hen chicks. But then i was fooled as I called one of my boys florence!  :lol: He was very pretty tho.

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joyfull

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Re: Things to consider before Hatching Chicks
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2010, 11:08 »
and I had a silkie cross boy called Danny but then Danny started to lay eggs and became Dannii  :lol:
I have araucana chicks and they along with silkies are very difficult to sex (one I bought last year as a girl was 9 months old before it turned our she was a he which crowed and started to tread his sisters  ;)  :lol:)

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wildwitchy

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Re: Things to consider before Hatching Chicks
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2010, 11:16 »
I think you should only hatch them out if you know you're never going to have problems either rehoming them,keeping them or killing them. Fortunatly I've never had a problem with the first two and I'd do the last one at a push if I had to.

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GerryOB

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Re: Things to consider before Hatching Chicks
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2010, 16:26 »
We have been thinking of getting some Chickens for some time.  Have watched You Tube clips of chicks hatching and thought 'ahhh...how cute' etc, but very soon those cute little fluff balls turn into fully grown birds, and whilst some may be what we are after, which is egg layers, we know that there is a likelyhood that not all will be hens.  Someone nearby has chickens and has a cockrell too.  Personally I don't mind it, as it's far enough away not to be a real nuiscance to us, but if I were living next door, then I think I would get fed up with it, especially if I was trying to sleep during the day which I often have to do due to my health problems.

Part of my initial reasoning was that if we did get a cockrell and the neighbours complained, then I'd say that the noise of their children was disturbing me at all hours (it honestly does!), so they should get used to it.  However, having given it some serious thought, we know we really don't want any cockrells at all, so we are going to skip the cute and fluffy stage and go straight for POL hens, which are just as cute in their own right.  Saves the expense of an incubator and worry of heat, humidity turning eggs etc too.  Rather spend that money on a better coop that will be more beneficial and so that I can choose what birds we have.

Very good advice from the above postings, and I hope anyone going into this like us for the first time, takes it on board before dashing out and buying their eggs and incubators.

Gerry

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Squibbs

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Re: Things to consider before Hatching Chicks
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2010, 00:24 »
I still find it hard to get my head round the fact that people still engage in cock fighting.

All my boys end up 'in the pot' - well most actually as home made ready meals for my long shifts at work. I generally dispatch them at around 16-22 weeks, my neighbours are very understanding and we keep one cockerel, but when there is competition for our chap he crows a lot more and we don't want to push our luck.

I don't feel bad about eating them, they have had a better life than most chickens ever get, I know what they have eaten, where they have been and the end is quick.

Breeds I have eaten:
Araucana - close to useless. Very little meat.
Cream Legbars - better than Araucana's - cut out and used breast and leg only
Welsummer - Not too bad - worth plucking though smaller ones I just skinned and boiled
Buff Orpington - good amount of meat - worth plucking
Speckled sussex - good amount of meat - worth plucking

I expect others will have different opinions.
My maths shows that bird is equal to or greater than the word...

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joyfull

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Re: Things to consider before Hatching Chicks
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2010, 07:12 »
the trouble is I have sablepoots and with those you don't even get a mouthful  :lol:



 

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