Sunday 9 September 2012

Don't count your chickens.......until they're hatched

Eggs are packed in specially made crush proof polystyrene boxes
The season for hatching next year's layers is starting. Eggs set under a hen or in a brooder now will hatch at the beginning of October and the pullets will start to lay during March / April 2013.
In most respects the modern hen behaves just like its Red Jungle Fowl progenitor. After laying an egg the hen sits on it briefly and then returns to normal behaviour even after several eggs have accumulated in the nest. When the clutch is complete, 10 - 12  or 15 eggs, incubation becomes continuous. It is only when incubation starts that the embryo begins to develop, until then it is in suspended animation.

Poly box  inside a cardboard box packed with crumpled newspaper, "The Guardian"

It's this suspension of development that allows us to collect fertile eggs and send them all over the UK for hatching. The eggs that are sent have to be fresh, not more than 3 or 4 days old and a whole lot of factors can affect hatchability. There's an optimum storage temperature of around 12C, in storage they should be turned daily and otherwise left undisturbed. Changes in temperature, atmospheric pressure and rough handling can all affect hatchability so the eggs are packed in crush proof  polystyrene boxes and posted for next day delivery.

21 days later
At £2.00 each these eggs may seem expensive but add up the costs involved. These eggs are from pullets hatched from eggs imported from Germany in January this year. Then there are 5 months o rearing to the point of lay. Unrelated  cockerels have to be red and reared. Some birds will not make the grade and they have to be discarded, then there are extra nutritious breeder rations. They also have a unique selling point; Bresse Gauloise are a rare breed in the UK. If 90% of your eggs hatch this is very good, 75 - 80% is what One can reasonably expect and less than this is disappointing.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I was very impressed by your packaging. Delivery to Shetland is quite a feat in itself without the added journey to one of Shetland's outer isles where I am.
The fertility was very good too, from both clutches I bought in early 2011. Just a shame the isle's power decided to play havoc while I had the incubator running. Both times argh!!
You breed very nice birds whose temperaments are to die for.