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Breeding Management

Management of breeding cocks

Introduce one new cock for every 10 hens every two years, in order to avoid inbreeding. Improved indigenous chickens for improving the local breeds can be bought from private breeders (see sources of chicks).

Brooding hens

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· A brooding hen can hatch 15 eggs per sitting depending on size and management
· A brooding cycle takes minimum 21 days after which the first eggs should start hatching.
· A broody hen will normally keep the chicks with her for a day or two before taking them to food and water.
· Any eggs not hatched after this will go cold and most likely not hatch.
· Keep food and clean water available near the brooding hen during this whole period

Selection and storage of hatching eggs:

· Store eggs with the broad end facing upwards
· Hatching eggs should be stored in clean, dry eggs trays in cool areas of the house
· Eggs older than 10 days should not be used for hatching

Serial hatching

A broody hen is made to sit/hatch eggs continuously for two or more times by removing hatched chicks and replacing them with new hatching eggs.

Synchronized hatching

Hens that start laying within the same period go broody around the same time. The first hen to reach this stage can be delayed by giving it a dummy egg to sit on until the others go broody. This will be repeated for the second and third hens, so that all eggs are set on the same day. Remember to remove all ‘dummy’ eggs before setting the eggs. The time between the first hen and the last should not be more than one week.

Artificial Incubation;

Indigenous chicken eggs can successfully be hatched using artificial incubation. This is affected by several factors;
1. Temperature;
The ideal temperature for artificial incubation is 37.5 0 C or 99.5 0 F. Temperatures above 40 0 C will destroy the growing embryo while those below 32 0 C will slow down the chick’s metabolism.
2. Humidity;
Relative humidity for the first 18 days of incubation should be 60 %. Less moisture will result in excessive drying of the chick causing it to stick to the shell at hatching .Too much moisture prevents normal evaporation and results in a decreased hatchability. On day 19-21 increase the humidity to between 70-75%, this prevents the beak from sticking to the shell.
3. Ventilation;
This is the air movement within the incubator and the air exchange with air outside the incubator. As the embryo grows, it takes up oxygen and releases carbon dioxide through the porous shell. It is important to avoid the buildup of carbon dioxide, whichis controlled by vents at the top of the incubator.
4. Turning;
Eggs must be turned during incubation. This prevents the embryo from sticking to shell membranes, particularly during the first week of incubation. It also aids development of the embryonic membranes.As embryos develop and their heat production increases, regular turning will aid airflow and assist cooling.
5. Eggs Transfer;
Eggs are removed from the setter after 18 or 19 days and transferred into hatching trays which allows free movement of the chick out of the shell at hatching.
NOTE; Always follow your manufacturers recommendation on incubation.
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