Our first incubation was a success! It was a great experience for the whole family. I loved that we got to see the first egg hatch as an entire family. Here is the final posting from that incubation experience: Incubation was a Success!

We ended up with 4 out of the 7 eggs hatching and surviving (in spite of Charlie’s overly friendly handling of the baby chicks). They are now living with two other friends who have backyard coups. My friend Becky has two of the females and my friend Jessica (who is a teacher) took a male and female. We are hoping that Jessica’s new Rhode Island Reds mate and lay eggs that she can subsequently use for classroom incubations. The eggs I hatched came from Dunham Farms. It is a farm that specializes in the highest quality chickens which can be used for shows. Some of these chickens fetch high prices too ($500-$1000). Dunham Farms does not sell eggs for hatching, but the owner made an exception since I would be blogging about our incubating experience for educational purposes. They do sell baby chicks at a reasonable price though, so if you are in the market for chickens please check them out: http://www.thedunhamfarm.com. Their chicken farm is located in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, more specially in Burleson, TX.

A few weeks back I contacted the owner of Dunham Farms once again to inquire about obtaining fertilized eggs for hatching Silkies. To my pleasant surprise he said yes! Silkies are the primary chicken that they breed at Dunham Farms. Here is a screen shot from their website that explains Silkies and some photos of their adorable chickens!

If you are in the market for pet chickens or high quality laying chickens I recommend Dunham Farms. I personally toured their farm. It is the most pristine, well kept chicken farm. They are not about quantity. It is all about quality of the birds they breed. They even had exotic Chinese Pheasants that were gorgeous! Don’t go to a feed store and get $5 chicks that are produced in mass quantities for and from  standard farms. If you are going to invest in a coop, then invest in the chicks too, as they can live up to 10 years depending on the breed! Spend a few extra dollars on the quality and you will be pleasantly surprised with what a difference well breed chickens can be. While we were at Dunham Farms there were three families there buying chickens as well. Wise people! Make sure to set up an appointment if you intend to visit Dunham Farms. Here is their website: http://www.thedunhamfarm.com

We are so excited for our silkies to hatch! We are just a few days away from hatching. We had two that were unfertilized. When we candled them, there was so growth at all. Here are some photos of our eggs at day 10 of 21 days of incubation:

These three eggs above show appropriate growth at 10 days. You can see the eyes, which are the dark spots. You can also the blood vessels. The light area is the air sac at the bottom of the egg. It is essential for the hatching process, as that is where the air is for the chick and where it will pip out of its shell. We had a total of 5 eggs that had proper growth. Brielle was taking photos, so I didn’t get great photos of all five, but these three are pretty good! My Dad was still in town when we candled the eggs on day 10 and even he was impressed with the amount of activity you can see inside the egg when you candle them. The chicks are still small inside the egg so they have room to move at day 10.

Below are the two eggs that were not fertilized. This is day 10 and they light up like light bulbs and they contain no growth. We threw them out. You never want to keep them in the incubator as they could explode and the bacteria could harm the healthy, growing eggs.

We candled the eggs again at day 14 and all 5 eggs look great! I only got photos of 4 out of 5 of the eggs, but here they are:

I actually got a total of 12 eggs from Dunham Farms. I have the small egg tray that goes inside the Brinsea Mini incubator. The small egg tray will hold 12 eggs, versus the standard tray that comes with the incubator holds 7. Silkie eggs are smaller than standard eggs, so I though they would fit in the small egg tray. They did, however some of the eggs touched. I didn’t know if this would affect their ability to turn and I didn’t want to risk it. Especially since Dunham Farms gave me eggs from their show chickens which sell for $500-$1000 (he told me he has NEVER sold or given these eggs out before). With these potentially high priced chickens to be, I didn’t want the eggs to go to waste. I contacted my friend Jessica the teacher and asked if she wanted to incubate 5 and I would incubate 7. She didn’t have any eggs currently in her incubator, so she said yes! So far, she only has one that looks good. The other four had no growth, which means they were most likely not fertilized eggs. I want to give her male and female silkies (provided we have enough), so that she can breed these for her classroom hatchings as well. It is hard to determine male and female genders with silkie chicks, so we may have to wait until they start laying and crowing. I won’t keep any roosters myself. Jessica will need them in order to get fertilized eggs. Chickens will lay eggs without a rooster, but they won’t hatch into chicks unless they have been fertilized by a rooster before they were laid.

I am not officially saying we are keeping any silkies in our yard. Although I can say that I did learn city laws over-ride HOA rules. Our city allows backyard chickens, but they can not be free range chickens. We had our previous chicks inside our home for 6 weeks and it worked great! These silkies we are hatching are mini chickens (the lap dog of chickens, as Dunham Farms calls them), so we will do what we can to manage them as pets, versus backyard chickens. No roosters, no noise, no visible outdoor coop, so I don’t see the problem. How fast will this posting get to a board member in our HOA? Well….I am on the board. Enough said on that. I do know that Brielle fell in love with our last batch of chicks. They followed her around the house like they were her babies. They used to ride around on her shoulder as though they were parrots! These chicks were so social and sweet and adored her so much. She has a connection to chickens and animals that is rare to see! Oh, and she is willing to clean up any chicken poo that falls on the floor. She does it willingly without saying a word! That in itself says a lot about her love and care for these animals.

We are excited for our chicks to hatch in a few days. Hoping and praying we end up with all 5! Only time will tell. As the old saying goes, “never count your chickens before they hatch”.