Saturday 22 December 2012

The last of the 2012 Bresse Gauloise hatching eggs

It used to be that poultry keepers set their incubators or broody hens to hatch chicks around Easter time and perhaps in September for continuity of egg supply. In 2012 people are hatching eggs all year round. This month alone I have sold 14 batches of fertile eggs on Ebay. However the short day length and cold weather mean that the our egg production is cut to 50% of what it was in the summer and it difficult to keep up with demand. So no more hatching egg sales until February when more daylight and warmer weather, perhaps, will boost production.

When a fertile egg is laid the embryo goes into suspended animation waiting for the broody hen to settle down on her clutch of eggs for nearly 24 hrs a day and a steady temperature of 37.5C. This is when the embryo begins to grow for 21 days until it hatches. We can use this period of suspended growth to send eggs around the world if necessary.  The eggs I sell on Ebay are rarely more than three days old because hatchability begins to decline after the egg is a week old. Eggs are stored at ideally 13C, packed in crush proof polystyrene boxes which are then  placed in a strong cardboard box and dispatched by Royal Mail for "Next Day Delivery" in the UK. This works for all buyers except those in Shetland where it takes two days to deliver.

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