Baby farmies. A staple on the Spring farm.
During our first year on the farm, we bought our share of chicks at the feed store or through a local Craigslist ad. We picked them out, took them home, and plopped them in their cozy, lit-up home, with feed and water waiting for them. Easy peasy, right?
The thought then started to cross my mind: Why don’t we try to hatch our OWN eggs? Yep, Incubating eggs.
**Ok, confession time. While accumulating every animal I could possibly get my hands on this past year didn’t seem to unnerve me, for some reason the thought of maintaining a certain temperature for an egg for 28-30 days truly made me nervous. Yes, I know this is silly. But alas, it is what it is.
Some things, however, are simply meant to happen.
It was around this time that I came in contact with an online incubator company, Incubator Warehouse, that not only sells incubator supplies (yes, duh, you’re thinking), but also has a great page of educational resources. When I decided that I was ready to jump in and give incubating a try, this page was LOADS of help!
The incubator I ended up going with was the Hova-Bator Still/Thermal Air Incubator with a hatch monitor that helped me keep track of internal temperature and humidity. Right out of the box, the Hova-Bator was pretty easy to put together. It is a styrafoam-type incubator that insulated well. My biggest dilemma, however, was deciding where to place the incubator. It is important that the incubator be located in an area that is warm and free from draft. In our house, however, there are opening and shutting doors constantly. I considered the closet, but didn’t feel it was warm enough. My solution? Our bathroom. Yep, along with the chicks that were brooding in our bathtub. Spring has been a little, um, hectic around here.
It took about a day for the incubator to get up to temperature and stabilize at a toasty 99.5 degrees F. I found that the temperature was still fluctuating a bit, so I kept a towel wrapped around the top and sides of the incubator – worked perfectly! After I was able to keep the incubator at the correct temperature for 24 hours, in went the eggs!
I had been toying with the idea of adding geese to the Faulk Farmstead, so this seemed like a perfect time to give it a whirl. I found in one of the local Facebook groups that was selling hatching goose eggs and picked up a few. Other places you could obtain eggs from could be from online hatcheries, through Craigslist, or simply from a goose that potentially has fertilized eggs (your goose or a friend’s). Here we go!
We didn’t purchase an automatic turner for the eggs, so every morning and night, we turned the eggs (marked on one side with an X and one side with an O). I also incessantly checked and obsessed over the temperature of the eggs, convinced I was going to kill them before they even started living. About a week in, I started using a candler to check fertility of the eggs – As this was my first go-round, I wasn’t COMPLETELY sure what I was seeing, but it looked like I may only have one fertile egg. I left the eggs in there, however, because I was unsure if removing them would mess with the internal temperature of the incubator. As time went on, however, it was confirmed: I had a lone gosling.
When we hit day 27 (incubation period was 29-32 days), I increased the humidity in the incubator (easy to do with that model), and the eggs were officially on “lockdown”. One the night of the 29th, I starting to hear noises within the egg and a tiny crack appears. By the next morning, there was a pencil-eraser-sized hole and by 8am we had a gosling!
Olive, our lone gosling, has been an utter joy – I don’t think I realized how much little geese are like puppies! She gets so excited when we come in to see her and LOVES to be held. All in all, even though we only got one hatched egg out of the process, I was worth it – and was a great intro to incubating for us. We are already planning our next hatch! 🙂
Do you incubate eggs? What have you incubated??
Looking for more great info on geese and incubating eggs? Head over to Incubator Warehouse or check out these great books!