Monday, August 6, 2012

Hatch Rate

What is a good Hatch rate?

Chicken hatching
You might assume (like I did) that if you put ten eggs in your incubator, you'll end up with ten chicks, but there's a lot that can go wrong before your chicks hatch. Assuming you do everything right, what kind of hatch rate is a backyard hobbyist looking at?

Browsing through chicken books from the early 1900s, I came across hatch rates from a time when incubators were still in their infancy. During this period, many of the small and mid-size chicken farms were still raised new chicks each year using broody hens, which gave them hatch rates of 45% to 65%. Larger farms (and those raising the new, unbroody varieties) were moving over to artificial incubation and netted 30% to 79% living chicks, with the average hovering around 50%.

For information on modern incubation technology, I turned to random accounts on the internet. (I know, not very scientific, but if you look at enough of them....) When hatching homegrown eggs that haven't sat around very long, it sounds like you might manage to get 75% to 80% (sometimes hatching all of your eggs but sometimes having runs where you hatch far fewer.) For shipped eggs, 50% hatch seems to be about average.

I've had a steep learning curve during my first two hatches. My first hatch had major problems with temperature and humidity control and I also used less viable eggs from old hens, so I ended up with only 17% living chicks. For my second hatch, I improved on the environmental conditions but still used old eggs in half of the incubator, comparing them to mail order eggs from prime breeding stock. My hatch rates there were 25% and 58%, respectively. I had hoped to improve my hatch rate yet again for my third incubator run by using only squeaky clean eggs, but it sounds like since my eggs will be all mail ordered, I should probably expect around a 50% hatch. I'll let you know how it goes in the middle of June

Sunday, August 5, 2012

What is Bird Flu?

WHAT IS BIRD FLU and Avian Influenza?

* Avian influenza is an infectious disease of birds caused by strains of the influenza virus. The disease, which was first identified in Italy more than 100 years ago, occurs worldwide.
* All birds are thought to be susceptible to infection with avian influenza, though some species are more resistant than others.
* Infection causes a wide spectrum of symptoms in birds, ranging from mild illness to a highly contagious and rapidly fatal disease resulting in severe epidemics. The latter is known as "highly pathogenic avian influenza". This form is characterized by sudden onset, severe illness, and rapid death, with a mortality that can approach 100 percent.
* Fifteen sub-types of influenza virus are known to infect birds, thus providing an extensive reservoir of influenza viruses potentially circulating in bird populations.


* Human fatalities from avian influenza were unknown before 1997, when six people in Hong Kong died after being infected with the H5N1 strain of the disease.
But the destruction of Hong Kong's entire poultry population -- around 1.5 million birds -- within three days, reduced opportunities for further direct transmission to humans, and may have averted a pandemic.
* In April 2003, a Dutch veterinarian who had been working on a farm infected with bird flu became ill with an H7 strain of the disease and died of pneumonia. The vet did not take medication against avian and human flu.


* 42 Vietnamese have died since late 2003. The disease has also killed 13 Thais, 7 Indonesians, 4 Cambodians and two Chinese.


* Although avian flu is very infectious in birds, it does not spread easily among humans. There is a danger, however, that an avian virus mixes with a human one and forms a new disease.
* The new virus could share genetic material from both viruses, being highly infectious like human flu and dangerously fatal like the avian variety.
* According to a WHO report earlier in May, the spate of human bird flu cases in Vietnam this year suggested the deadly virus may be mutating in ways that are making it more capable of being passed between humans.
-- The finding points to the greatest fear of health experts that the H5N1 virus could unleash a pandemic and kill millions around the globe if ever it gained the ability to be transmitted among humans efficiently