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Ammanford Folios Court


If-rOur Poultry Column.I


I f-rOur Poultry Column. I HATCHING PROBLEMS. Although we are only in January, there will be many folk thinking about hatching, and I guess that there will be more at this work than last year. Most notes on hatching will apply to any time of the year, but naturally there is more care needed now than in April or May, owing to the milder climate and no amount of frost expected. Hen eggs take 21 days to hatch, ducks 28, and turkeys 30, and with our changeable climate much may happea during this period. So when setting hens in February, always be ready for the worst; then if good weather prevails, you will still be safe. The hen is the natural method of hatching, and it is this system which I will deal with. There is something in the position of the nest, but more in the making of the nest and her treatment, which means success or failure. When a hen steals her nest, that is, lays away from the house, and then hatch es her brood, she sometimes chooses queer places. But if notice is taken of the place and time of the year, it will usually be found that the two fit in very well. She will not select a hole in the hedge during March, nor yet a corner in a boiler house during May. Where hens have been on the farm, and one has been sitting, she is seldom missed till she comes home with her brood; then it is diffi- cult to know where she was sitting. But while success has followed the hen who chooses a hedge for the nest, so also it has been the same where they have been on the top of straw stacks or in lofts. The old idea of them drawing moisture from the soil can- not always be possible, for one hen was very succesfaul on a straw rick at least 15 feet from the ground. Nests have been used ^sucoessfully when made ever one another like a chest of drawers, only that the front apens down instead of a drawer. One lot made four pens deep acted well, and the top hens could not possibly draw any mois- ture from the ground. There is a great deal in the weather at the time of hatching, for when the air is moist there is nothing else needed, but if very dry, a warm moist flannel can be placed over the eggs while the hen is off feeding. Then the steam left Behind will be quite enough, and this need only be done duiring the last two or three days. Those sitting boxes which are made eimilar to a coop, only in Jots of six, make suitable places providing they can be kept vermin proof and the frosts are done. For April and May work these are good, but as a rule the big breeders have a special house for sit- ting, and this can be adapted to meet the climate outside. All things considered, there is nothing better than a well building, be- cause it is cool in summer and can be made warm in winter; then all the hatching can be done in safety. Too many people cramp the hen, not allowing any room for her to move round, and this ako means less air, which is bad for the eggs as well as the hen. You canont expect healthy chicks from a vile- smelling nest, so see that all things round the hen are clean and sweet. Making the nest is more important than it is thought, because unless the hen has full control of each egg, she cannot move them when and where she wishes. When hatching in an incubator, the eggs must be turned; but the hen does this herself, though the owner may not see it done. From this you can see that a flat nest is no good; and yet I have seen 01l farms a bit of straw put in a box and the eggs on top, so that as soon as the hen moves and shapes her nest the eggs are on the flat, some in the comers right away from her, so that these chill, and probably the germ dies before she can get them together again. The bottom must bo at least 14 inches square, and then put in about three inches deep of sand or dry earth, which must be hollowed in the centre and pushed well into the corners, which forms a saucer. On top of this put some hay, which is more pliable than straw and warmer for winter. Being softer the hen settles down quickly, and when the nest is warm she is not 60 likely to move. When using a strange hen, always test her first for at least twenty- four hours; then at night you can take any dummies away and put good ones under- neath.