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Discussion Starter #1
For those that are breeding their hens do you have any suggestions to improve egg quality? I'm noticing on the incubated chicks some are slow to hatch, fail to break thru or deformed. I'm currrently feeding a laying ration but was wondering what else I could add to make sure parents (rooster and hens) are getting all the vitamins they need. They are confined so I can't let them forrage.
 

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hillbilly farmgirl
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What kind of layer feed, can you give us a brand?

I like to up the protein and calcium a little bit for my breeders.

But this almost sounds more like an issue with incubation, have you looked at troubleshooting incubator issues? The temp and humidity may not be exactly right, what type incubator do you have out of curiousity?
 

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There are a bunch of variables when it comes to incubating. Sounds like you may have other issues other than diet.

As far as nutrition goes, 20% or higher feed, oyster shell for extra calcium. I feed a 20% all flock feed as every day feed. I bump up to a Game Bird feed at around 24-26% during breeding season. This is what I do, not saying it's right, just that it works for me and keeps my flock in good health.

Other than that, you can try vitamins in the water, higher protein feed, sprouting some oats or sunflowers for fresh greens. Feed a little catfish feed/game fish chow as a scratch. It's high in protein, has meat in it, and lower in salt than cat food.
 

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Being you started a new thread on this I will move my post here.


""Well, I have bought eggs from the Auctions, from many different sellers, some free range some don't. Some only feed scratch, etc, etc. I have taken eggs from 30+ pens of my own. I do not have chicks that are slow to hatch, rarely have one that pipped that doesn't hatch and rarely have a deformed one. Having hatched 10,000+/- in the last 3 or so years. I personally feel there is a lot more to hatching than the egg quality at layed. But it could effect it some, maybe?? How long they are kept, how they are stored till set, how accurate the incubator temp is, how even the temp in the incubator, How the humidity is, how much air is exchanged, etc, etc, etc play big rolls in hatching.""
 

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Up your protein.
My first hatches this spring were really sad and I finally figured out I was working
with older eggs and not fertile ones. They were not eggs from my birds that I started with.
I switched to 2 different roosters. And the oldest eggs I put in the incubator are no
more than 7 days old now. I been doing 1 small hatch a week now. I have 3 bantam chickens
that went broody for me, 2 hatched, and 1 still to go yet but soon. 2 Muscovy hens that went broody
and I gave them eggs. One due today and wow is she a bear to work with.
I been using the Little Giant incubators. I like them for the price I was willing to spend.
And now I got the egg quality and fertile issues over with, hatching is going real good.
 

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Discussion Starter #6

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I bought 2 new Chinese incubators http://m.ebay.com/itm/56Egg-Incubator-Digital-Clear-Hatcher-with-Auto-Turner-Chicken-Poultry-Duck-Bird-/232082068462?epid=1771173889&hash=item36092b53ee:g:CzkAAOSwImRYmF3i&_trkparms=pageci%3A6afb4874-66c6-11e7-a5cd-74dbd180ebf4%7Cparentrq%3A355bf0ed15d0a7e054587693ffebe302%7Ciid%3A1 and a separate temp humidity monitor as the device sensor was off. Eggs on rack is 100 degrees and 50-55% humidity (air has been humid) and eggs in hatcher are 100 degrees and 65% humidity. I will up their protein and see if it improves. I was using local mill brand.
Let us know how these incubators are working for you?? Being Honest The reviews are so bad on them---But, I wonder if they are in the right hands with "extra/different" meters if they will work/hatch good??
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Let us know how these incubators are working for you?? Being Honest The reviews are so bad on them---But, I wonder if they are in the right hands with "extra/different" meters if they will work/hatch good??
As long as you have an separate temp/humidity monitor and use that, its rock solid. It does take abit of adjustment to get the temp to stay because we moved it to another building that air conditioning wasn't always on, so temps would flux and had to account for that. Now its always at 100. Humidity is managed by moss in a bowl and adding water when it drops below 50%. The incubator is stable, you just have to have the time to adjust until its solid for you. Its active air and just seems to work. The price is right for what it does. You could pay a lot more but why?
 

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hillbilly farmgirl
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One other thing to consider if I may ask? Does the temp stay stable when you move the temp sensor around inside the incubator? I know with my little giant incubators there were warmer spots and colder spots inside the bator. Using forced air (fan inside incubator to circulate air) helped with that, but there were still differences in temp.

One thing it might be worth checking. Do you notice that certain sections of the incubator hatch chicks more successfully? I'm kind of grasping at straws here trying to help figure this one out, sorry.

Even small differences in temp can make a big difference. Another question, are your chicks hatching at over 21 days? You said slow to hatch, is this what you meant by that?
That is a good indicator the temp is just a touch low inside the incubator....and vice-versa, as well. Hatching at before 21 days is an indicator of higher temp. Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
One other thing to consider if I may ask? Does the temp stay stable when you move the temp sensor around inside the incubator? I know with my little giant incubators there were warmer spots and colder spots inside the bator. Using forced air (fan inside incubator to circulate air) helped with that, but there were still differences in temp.

One thing it might be worth checking. Do you notice that certain sections of the incubator hatch chicks more successfully? I'm kind of grasping at straws here trying to help figure this one out, sorry.

Even small differences in temp can make a big difference. Another question, are your chicks hatching at over 21 days? You said slow to hatch, is this what you meant by that?
That is a good indicator the temp is just a touch low inside the incubator....and vice-versa, as well. Hatching at before 21 days is an indicator of higher temp. Hope this helps.
Your questions are spot on. it seems fairly stable temp wise anywhere I've had the monitor. Now that said, with this incubator the top is semi transparent yellow. You cant see the entire rack (because of the way the fan is an display). So I have the monitor in a corner and have to shine a light thru to see the monitor readings without opening the display. I'll post a pic.
 

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hillbilly farmgirl
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That's kind of a cool incubator!

I do think that adjusting the temp just a wee bit higher may help...i have been told that hatcheries incubate at something like 102F and chicks hatch in 19 days. Hatcheries obviously have great success so playing with the temp a little might be worth a try. Totally up to you though
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I'll bump it up and see how that impacts the results. I thought 102 was too high. I'll try 101 and see how it goes and get up to 102. Thanks for the suggestion
 

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hillbilly farmgirl
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Why would you want to hatch a day or two early?? I just do it Like Momma hen!!
It boils down to the cost of doing business. If you are going to run the bators year round, why not get an extra hatch or two out of it? I do agree chicks may be healthier for hatching at 21 days instead of 19, but for a hatchery time equals money.
 

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It boils down to the cost of doing business. If you are going to run the bators year round, why not get an extra hatch or two out of it? I do agree chicks may be healthier for hatching at 21 days instead of 19, but for a hatchery time equals money.
Time does equal money, but so does a quality product. A team of broodies would be a good investment if electricity's an issue (or put in something solar).

Blue Seal makes an actual breeder feed, but if that isn't available, I'd feed them a nonmedicated chick starter for the extra nutrients, and oyster shell for calcium. I know you said you couldn't, but I would also highly recommend allowing them to forage. Nothing's a substitute for fresh grass, weeds, and bugs.
 
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