Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Where do you get a Henobator?

A steadfast rule in chicken farming is that it is ALWAYS better if a hen can do the hatching.  With that said, we all have to use incubators from time to time.  In the beginning of our chicken journey, I asked my online chicken friends about which incubators were best.  Several kept coming up, but one stood out among the rest.  The "Henobator" was mentioned 8 out of 10 times.  Being new to chickens, I searched all over the internet trying to find this wildly popular incubator with no luck!  I know, I know...........DUH!  It didn't take long to figure it out.  To brood or not to brood is entirely up to the hens!  This leaves many eggs that need to be incubated. On the other hand, some of the hens would go broody with one or no eggs under them.  The larger hens can easily sit on eight to ten eggs.  Since their laying stops while they sit, it just makes sense to give them more to sit on for the 21 day incubation period, thus the "Henobator"!  I had found that miraculous incubator finally!  Go ahead and laugh, I know you want to!

Our first experience with the "Henobator" was with our little Black Cochin Bantam hen, Annie.  She was constantly going broody. Time and again her eggs proved infertile and nothing would hatch. Having many Seramas, we always have plenty of Serama eggs and not always enough broody hens.  One day my husband, Willy, took a few Serama eggs and put them under Annie.  She dutifully sat for the 21 days and hatched four beautiful Serama chicks.  It made NO difference to her that their legs were not feathered and they were smaller than normal.  They were HER chicks.  She did an excellent job of raising Seramas for me.  In fact, she did such an excellent job that she has since hatched many Seramas.  

Once this "Henobator" concept kicked in, the sky was the limit.  We've had a Phoenix hen hatch Jubilee Orpington chicks when the Jubilee girls would not cooperate.  We have even had a Serama hen (determined to remain broody until she hatched SOMETHING) sit on two Belgian Maline eggs. Two of the big eggs were all she could manage, but she stepped up to the challenge and hatched two healthy Maline chicks.  Watching her, it was easy to tell what she was thinking when these big chicks hatched - "WHOSE chicks are those?"  In two weeks they were her size, but she was a faithful mother to them.  

Most recently, we had three Cochin Bantam hens go broody with no eggs.  Willy had a bunch of Guinea eggs that he was going to put in the incubator.  He took them and divided them among the three Cochin hens.  Guinea eggs have a 28 day incubation period as opposed to the 21 day period for chicks, but these little hens do not care!  Yesterday, the first of the three hatched her "chicks".  The amazing thing about this hatch is the calm demeanor of these normally "wild" keets.  They are as calm as their "mom", while the keets hatched in the incubator are very "jumpy".  

Cochin Bantam with Guinea Keets
Cochin Bantam with Guinea Keets

                                       Our feathered friends NEVER cease to amaze me!

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