The natural progression from buying hens, or rescuing them from a short life of toil and inhumane treatment, is to think of hatching some yourself. Given my obsession, it is understandable that I should think this is the next logical step. None of our hybrid hens had been broody in over three years, ever since Letty died, in fact, so we would have to do it the artificial way. Naturally, I discussed it with Paul, and he was rather doubtful about the whole enterprise, but supported me. I researched available incubators and took advice from Twitter friends – thanks @ChickenStreet and @oshea76 for the useful pointers. I was particularly impressed with @oshea76’s homemade incubator/brooder, and would have like to try my hand at building that, but in the end I decided that I needed an automatic incubator as I was still at work and would not be around to turn the eggs 5 or 6 times a day as required for hens eggs.
Having decided on the type of incubator, I had to decide on a make; both Brinsea and RCom had been recommended, but I eventually plumped for a Brinsea Mini Advance starter pack, which gave me an electric hen and a candler as well as a 7-egg incubator. Next, the breed of chicken I wanted to raise; this was very easy – Cream Legbar. I had tried on more than one occasion to buy point of lay birds of this breed, but they are not easy to come by, probably because they lay such beautiful blue and pale olive eggs. Again, Twitter came to the rescue, and put me in touch with @chez_ally, who breeds Cream Legbar and Barnvelder. She had fertile eggs available, so I placed an order for the incubator and the eggs, and sat back to wait for the joyous arrival. Continue reading