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#76094 - 10/27/06 03:00 PM Making Plans
Lifelong Learner Offline
Chicken

Registered: 10/27/06
Posts: 126
Loc: Louisiana
Hi, All. I am thrilled to have found a group of experts!

I am a preschool teacher in New Orleans who would like to hatch just a couple of eggs in my classroom. I would then like to keep the chicks at home to lay eggs. It's a prime opportunity for me since there are very few neighbors at the moment. (Neighbors being my husband's reason why we could never have chickens.)

I'd like to hatch a couple at home, too. My daughter would LOVE it.

We tore down our house, so our 60' x 120' lot is occupied only by our FEMA trailer right now. We will be building a new house (10 feet in the air) in the near future.

So.

I'm looking for a breed that won't mind living on a construction site for a few months, is o.k. in the heat and humidity of the Gulf South, will lay eggs (maybe to hatch, mostly to eat), not be too loud, and will be docile pets for a gentle 10-year-old girl.

What breed would be good? Is it possible to find a source just for 2 or 3 eggs at a time? What incubation methods/equipment would you suggest?
I am trying to get an R-COM (which is so pretty and seems foolproof in the ads). My dear husband is resisting spending the money.

Sorry to be so long-winded, but I am a true beginner.

--Angelle

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#76095 - 10/27/06 04:33 PM Re: Making Plans
Susie Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 1902
Loc: Arkansas
Well, my first thoughts for you are....
What will you do when 3 out of the 4 turn out to be roosters? This happens sometimes with hatches. Things work out to be 50/50 over the long-term but, for example, we once hatched 8 eggs and got 5 boys out of the deal.

Second - there are some not so pretty things that can happen at times when hatching eggs. You might read the incubating/raising chicks sections here for some idea of what you can confront. Sometimes chicks fully develop but don't hatch. Sometimes they start to hatch but die. Sometimes they die right after hatching. Unless I had some experience under my belt, I'm not sure I'd do a preschool presentation on it due to the possible pitfalls.

You need to read up some on brooding baby chicks. They need a lot of care and controlled temperatures. Once they get older, they need secure housing, protection from predators, the right feed, fresh water, etc. It's a lot more work than people think. And it isn't a cheap hobby to get into.

Now if none of that turns you off, and you have plans for all of the above, then you've found a great resource here and we'll gladly walk you through every step of the way. As for getting a few eggs, you need to find somebody nearby with hens and roosters. That's your best bet. Even if you just spot a place when you're out driving somewhere, it wouldn't hurt to ask. If somebody stopped by my place today and wanted some fertile eggs, I'd load them up, no problem.

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#76096 - 10/27/06 04:37 PM Re: Making Plans
CJR Offline
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8501
Loc: Montana
While it would be an exciting adventure to hatch two chicks, it isn't that easy!
Small incubators are not reliable--if none or just one DOES hatch, it is not a good experience for youngsters. AND, there is no assurance that both chicks, if they did hatch safely, would not be cockerels (roosters). You will than have lost 3 or 4 months, as you will not know the sexes, for sure until the 3 weeks incubation period is over--plus the number of weeks until
plumage revelation, or secondary sex differences are apparent. Then, where will they go??

Suggestion for starters would be to search for "sexed" day old chicks (3, rather than 2). This is not easy at this time of year, but is possible. Sexing day olds, is a specialty of hatchery personel, and is the best way to hope for pullets (hens).

There are children's books about chickens, which might be a winter project, with breeds (you choose what you like best and what is likely to be available in the Spring), with brooding, housing and feeding from chick to adult. This would give a good education before obtaining chicks. Visit to a Petting Zoo or other poultry flock, that would allow visitors can be included during the winter months.

Silkie Bantams might be a good suggestion for "easy" birds, that will lay lovely eggs.

I suffer for the MANY chicks that go to children with no knowledge of their care and nurture and sickness, accidents and death are all too common. And yet, it is such a wonderful experience for all ages--worth any effort. I suggest saving your money until you are "ready"!

I have recently sent two bantam pullets to live in a New York apartment--and since June, preparations have been underway for their arrival, design and building of their aviary and their outside garden pen (6th floor with deck), and I am assured of their proper care--they should be happy and productive (both pullets started laying last week, 10 days after their arrival by Express Mail). The 5 months preparation for young birds (as well as the careful selection of these two special pullets) will make their life a happy one, and their new owner is ecstatic with their initial success. (and a 4 year old neighbor shared a breakfast egg--very small bantam egg--for an introduction to chickens in midcity New York.) We all are happy! CJR

These little birds may have a future, next spring, with a cockerel, and for hatching chicks--but not in NY, but perhaps on an extended "vacation" with a relative in rurual Vermont--then back to NY!

Chickens give so much pleasure!

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#76097 - 10/27/06 06:39 PM Re: Making Plans
CJR Offline
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8501
Loc: Montana
Well, Susie, we didn't come out exactly the same, but at the same hour, we were thinking of chick's beginnings, as not the easy wish of those with no experience with eggs, chicks, feed, housing, temperature, etc., but willing to learn. Warnings, but not outright rejection of the idea for preschool children.....carry on....CJR

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#76098 - 10/27/06 09:13 PM Re: Making Plans
Fowl Lover Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 532
Loc: Nebraska
Angelle
Another idea for a good start for you (I like the idea of getting them in the spring from a hatchery so you can choose the sex) may be to find some adult birds. Check local feed stores or farm news papers for ads. It does take some preparation and some learning but you sound like you are in the right frame of mind for both. Chickens appear to be "easy keepers" as you drive through the countryside and see them pecking about or at the county fairs all bathed and clean caged. And, once you have a little knowledge behind you and get going on a routine they are relatively easy. If you decide to do this, research this site for ideas on housing and feed and etc so you will be prepared. There are books you can buy but you have found a great resource here and we will be more than happy to help you get started. Not trying to discourage you completely just wanting the best for you and the birds so you'll all be happy. Perhaps the chicks can "visit" your class...after they've hatched!

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#76099 - 10/28/06 05:10 AM Re: Making Plans
Lifelong Learner Offline
Chicken

Registered: 10/27/06
Posts: 126
Loc: Louisiana
Thanks to you all. I certainly agree that I have a lot to learn and I need to plan this carefully and prepare. My idea was to try to hatch in the spring, but perhaps I should try to get some chicks instead. I will certainly have all needed equipment in place well before they arrive.

Along with the incubator, I planned to get a brooder and brooder enclosure (good size for the classroom -- too big for the trailer). Since these will be indoors, would I still need to plan for predators after that?

How long would they stay in the brooder?

Also, would silkies do o.k. in the Gulf South? They seem ideal in many ways, but it gets really hot and humid here and I wouldn't want to bring in birds unsuited to the environment. Would they mind the noise and dirt of a place with building going on?

Thanks so much.

--Angelle

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#76100 - 10/28/06 03:22 PM Re: Making Plans
Egostostick Offline
Chicken

Registered: 05/02/06
Posts: 111
Loc: Arizona
I live where 115 is the norm during the summer. I've had silkis and lots of other heavyily feathered breeds and they did fine as long as the wern't in an place with solid walls. I don' know if humidity would effect them. The consrtuction they'd get used to, but there might be drop in egg production.(if they're laying of course)
_________________________
Ryan

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#76101 - 10/28/06 07:07 PM Re: Making Plans
Fowl Lover Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 08/24/05
Posts: 532
Loc: Nebraska
When you say you will be keeping them inside do you mean in a coop or in your home? If in your home and never let out no need to plan for predators. If in a coop you will need to be sure the coop is predator proof. Depending on your budget this can be trickier than it sounds. Predators are crafty and resourceful. Let us know though, you'll get lots of good advice. Great that you are planning in advance. Many have learned as they went and had some disasters.

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#76102 - 10/28/06 07:44 PM Re: Making Plans
Susie Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 1902
Loc: Arkansas
Quote:
Originally posted by CJR:
Well, Susie, we didn't come out exactly the same, but at the same hour, we were thinking of chick's beginnings, as not the easy wish of those with no experience with eggs, chicks, feed, housing, temperature, etc., but willing to learn. Warnings, but not outright rejection of the idea for preschool children.....carry on....CJR
smile
Yes, well, we who have been hanging around The Coop for years have seen our share of disaster stories. I never want to discourage a beginner, but I do want them to be as prepared as possible.

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#76103 - 10/28/06 09:47 PM Re: Making Plans
Foehn Offline
Administrator
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1974
Loc: New Zealand
Have a look at the link for the Dominc Minilab Incubator. There is a small amount of promotional data there for incubating chickens in New Zealand schools. Some Primary schools here have run this project as it is such a wonderful teaching opportunity for nature studies, and yes maybe some chickens won't hatch out sucessfully, but that is a good teaching point too. Local poultry clubs or rural families in your area may be quite happy to be involved, and chickens can always go back to them if you have too many. One of the classes in a school I know of, took on a load of chickens and took them right through the process. It was very worthwhile. Some of them later came to school for a pet day. Incubator

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