I figured that the thinner shell and sharper beak may contribute to the mature chicks having greater success at hatching; since my ducklings seem to fail at this stage.
Well, it was that, or something, as my yield was much better. And I really only needed to help one little guy who was too slow progressing and got glued-in by his shell membrane.
To re-cap my duck incubation struggles, my yields have ranged from 13% to 33%, with an average of 21%. This initial attempt at doing chickens was much better – 58% (though still not stellar). These stats are post-1-week-candling, because I don’t want to blame infertile or unviable eggs on the incubator.
So, I have nineteen Christmas chicks. And, I didn’t really need any more chickens! 🙂 So, I’ll try to sell these, and if they don’t sell, we’ll probably eat some when they get to reasonable butchering size.
I listed them on craigslist for $5 apiece, which is what most people seem to ask. I’ve already gotten one wise-guy email complaining that the price was too high, asking if I’d take a dollar a bird. Now, I can’t compete with large-scale commercial hatcheries that sell chicks in bulk for around $3.50 apiece. An1d besides, they usually charge enough S&H that it ends up being $5 per bird anyway! They often cite about a 30% mortality rate, where I usually see zero, because in small batches, survivability goes way up. And, you can’t buy hatchery chicks in the winter, so it’s local or nothing if you want them this time of year. Supply and demand…
I think $5 is fair for purebred chicks, considering I’ve fed the hens while they’re laying, paid for electricity for the incubator heating element, fan, egg turner and heat lamp, and bought food and bedding for the chicks. Not to mention my time messing around with egg collection, candling, caring for the hatchlings, advertising, answering phone calls and emails, and having people come over and pick out their chicks. Certainly, I won’t become a millionaire raising chickens nineteen at a time! 😉 If I sold the eggs for eating, they would be $.33 apiece, so clearly one that I’ve grown to hatching stage must be worth more than a dollar! But, it’s funny how some people don’t see that. I’ve gotten two inquiries from interested parties who are OK with the price. And if they don’t sell, that’s ok, we’ll eat them (when they’re bigger, of course!).