Using a Chicken Incubator: Pro's, Cons, and Gain New Freedoms

By JM Davis



Using a Chicken Incubator: Pro’s, Cons, and Gain New Freedoms

You may think purchasing new chicks every year is the smartest and easiest way to have chickens on your homestead. Have you thought about what vaccines their parents were given?

It’s very easy to go online, choose the chickens you want, order them, and wait for the chicks to arrive by mail. However, did you know that the majority of the chicken hatcheries in the United States belong to the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP), which means your chicks are getting vaccinated indirectly, if you know it or not?

How? Most U.S. hatcheries vaccinate their breeding flocks and do not need to disclose this to you on their website. Before buying chicks from a breeder, ask them what vaccinations their breeding flock gets. Plus, ask them if their breeding stock run around outside. Why? Because you want birds that thrive in nature, not small cages.

We emailed five different hatcheries and found breeder chickens were vaccinated for the following diseases. Some hatcheries vaccinated for all, while other only vaccinated some. They all said they align with the NPIP program, which is a voluntary program by the US government.

  • Mareks: Mareks is a viral infection.
  • Bursal or IBD Vaccine which is for a viral infection.
  • Newcastle/Bronchitis is a live-virus vaccine that is suppose to protects chickens against both Newcastle Disease and Infectious Bronchitis.
  • Avian encephalomyelitis (AE) is suppose to protect used to protect chickens from the disease caused by the Avian encephalomyelitis virus.
  • Fowl pox is a live virus vaccine used to prevent Fowl Pox in chickens. It is typically administered to chickens aged 8 weeks or older, with some sources recommending vaccination at 12-16 weeks of age.
  • Pigeon pox is a virus
  • Laryngo is used to prevent Laryngo a respiratory disease.
  • Salmonella vaccine is used to reduce salmonella in the digestive tract.
  • Bird flu vaccine is a vaccine designed to protect against the avian influenza virus, specifically the H5N1 subtype.

There are groups writing articles and touting how wonderful these vaccines are to keep healthy flocks. To me a vaccinated flock is a weak flock. Remember the more you vaccinate the weaker your animals become because they can’t fight off anything that comes their way. Their bodies are depending on medication instead of survival of the fittest. You want strong birds that can take care of themselves and not get sick naturally. Plus, most hatcheries only keep their breeding birds for one year. You, with the exceptions of meat birds, will keep your layers and breeders for several years.

If you need to buy chicks try the Sandhill Preservation. If and when we want to try new breeds, this is where we get ours. NO, they do not vaccinate.

A better idea besides buying is incubating your own chicks.

Incubating Your Own Chicks.

Ideally, the cheapest and best way to incubate new chicks is by letting your chickens do it on their own. This means you need a broody chicken. A chicken that will sit on eggs and hatch them without your intervention. Sometimes without your knowledge as well. This isn’t always possible, plus it gives you less control over your flock. May I suggest using an egg incubator?

An egg incubator puts you in charge of incubating more chicks. You must have a mature rooster for every eight hens that are laying eggs. This ratio ensures the eggs will be fertilized by the rooster. The best time of year is when the weather isn’t too hot nor too cold for that breed. Most breeds do well fertilizing between 65 and 80 degrees.

Cons: I can only think of one con for incubating your own chickens. The cost of getting a good reliable incubator.

Sure, you can purchase a cheap incubator or make your own. Most egg incubators work fairly well. However, the cheap ones make egg hatching more difficult. A small incubators will make you wish you had saved your money to buy a larger incubator, which enables you to hatch more chicks

Another option is to find someone who will incubate your eggs for you while you save your pennies for your own incubator. You may not get your eggs hatched exactly when you want, but you will get new chicks that come from cleaner stock.

Pros and Gaining Freedom From Incubating Your Own Chicks

  • FREEDOM! Yes, that is my number one reason for incubating eggs.
  • You decide when you want more chicks.
  • You decide what breads you want to mix from the chicks you have. Better yet, swap some fertile eggs with a friend to incubate. This adds to your chicken gene pool.
  • You decide if you want vaccinations in your chicks. You get to stop the insanity of medicating your chicks.
  • You also decide what type of food your breeders receive which directly affects your baby chickens. If the breeder feeds their chickens genetically engineered (GE) feed, guess what? Even though your chicks aren’t fed prior to shipping, they come from genetically engineered fed chickens.
  • No surprises about the cost of your new chicks.
  • No surprises about the breeder being out of chickens or shut down by the government.

Having and using a chick incubator gives you freedom for your chicken meat and eggs. Now go save your pennies and create some awesome chickens to add to your food freedom.

Grow Food – Eat Local – Gain Freedom

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