Sunday, June 03, 2012

Incubating Goose Eggs and Guinea Eggs

As some may know we bought an incubator about the time I managed to get all my guinea hens killed by a fox. The plan was to hatch and sell some guinea keets, but quickly turned into hatching chicks and geese. I bought a Hova-bator from the Co-op in Elgin; it is a simple still air Styrofoam incubator. So far I've hatched around 18-20 chicks, 3-5 guinea keets, and 2 geese. I bought a 14 hatching eggs from a fellow animal tender and they hatched great. He is actually the man I bought my chicks from this spring, and we went halves on the geese he hatched for me before I got my set up going.

Guinea Eggs on far L & R. Geese in Middle. Bantams 2nd from R.
I haven't been as staunch in my temperature monitoring as I should, nor in my precision egg turning either. But like I said, I have had some success so far, and I have learned a few quick lessons to pass along. It seems to me that you should do your best to put your eggs into the incubator in such an order as to where they will be hatching around the same times. These first go rounds I have done I just did it all willy-nilly. The main problems I have found with this method are that you have to open the incubator at integral times you should be keeping it closed, or you have to skip turning eggs and not open the incubator. Another problem is the mess. If you have a few eggs hatch out and you get the chicks out, you still have a nasty mess in the bottom of the incubator that needs dealing with unless you're just going to let it fester which can lead to horrible smells and maggots growing in there I have found. So in the future I am going to stick the goose eggs in first, and then guineas and then chickens, so hopefully they'll all be hatching around the same time.

Incubation time in days for different kinds of bird eggs: Goose 30-32, Guineas 27-28, Chickens 21.

I am planning on getting some quail eggs to hatch and raise sometime in the next week or so for eggs and meat. I've talked to a few different farms that sell them around here and should be able to get a good bit for $20. Also looking for some duck eggs to try hatching. I'd like to get some of those ugly Muscovy Duck eggs.

Interesting fact: Egg shell color is passed down from the hen that laid the egg. So any eggs hatched that were green will lay green eggs when they mature if they are hens. This is exciting to me since I might can stock back up on some green egg layers since all I have at the moment is one. From all the eggs I hatched there are at least two chicks that I believe to be from the green eggs; they have faint tufting around their beak like the Ameraucana chickens do.

This little grey colored chick here is one that I am hoping turns out to be a hen and a good layer, and I hope she turns out grey too. If you look closely you can see the faint tufts on her cheeks. She has kept her color so far so I am getting excited that she might be a beautiful grey hen.

There is one more black chick that has the potential to lay green eggs since it has some minor tufting as well, but these two might not be my only hopes since I was just reading that only half a tufted birds offspring will be tufted.

Dead "Popped" Goose Egg
I have had some strange things happen with some of my goose eggs that are disturbing. I have had 2 or 3 that seemed to pop open and ooze noxious fumes and rotten egg all over the incubator. Of those 3 eggs, 2 have contained developed birds that were dead and covered in grayish muck. These have been super nasty to dispose of, and have required immediate cleaning of the incubator.

Another strange thing is the bantam eggs I tried hatching for a friend of mine. None of them hatched; I even waited an extra 7 days and nothing. I cracked a handful open and they all contained completely formed chicks, but just never hatched. I am sure it had something to do with temperature, turning, or the age of the eggs, but I still think it was strange that none of them hatched out of a whole dozen or more.

Guinea Keets & Chicks in Brooder
Interesting Fact #2: White Guinea  keets, which are the second most common variety of guinea behind Pearl, "are not albino and are the only solid white bird that hatches solid white and not yellow." These birds you see that are brown with some striping and white cheek areas are guinea keets. I bought a bakers dozen from a man in St. Florian to replenish my stock. I have also hatched out hte 3 or 4 from what eggs I found hidden in the field, and have another dozen eggs in the incubator that the nice man gave us while we were visiting with him.

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Yours Truly,
The Crowsons