Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hatching Chicken Eggs

Watch the video of the chicks I hatched with my grandson here:

Hatching eggs is actually easier than many people think. I have had several opportunities to hatch out eggs using slightly different methods from using a bread warmer under partially developed eggs that were abandoned as a teen to using an automated  incubator that kept the settings perfect.

Chicken eggs collected to hatch should be stored at room temperature with the smaller end pointing down. The eggs should never be older than 10 days old from the day it was layed. The older the eggs are, the more viability decreases.

Whether you are using a purchased egg incubator or a diy designed incubator, you will need a thermometer and a hygrometer to measure humidity inside the incubator. I have never measured my humidity levels for any hatches except when I used the automatic system. My hatch rates have always been decent with a water bowl inside the incubator and adding a small damp cloth for the lock down period I will discuss later on.

The temperature for chicken eggs should be 99.5°F - 101.5°F. Humidity levels are even more important and should increase in the 18th to 21st days where you do not open the incubator for no reason until the hatch is complete. This 3 day period is known as the lock down period. 

What temperature to incubate chicken eggs?

"Perhaps the most important parameter is temperature – chicken eggs should be incubated at a temperature between 99 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit (99.5 is often considered to be ideal) and 50 to 65 percent relative humidity (60 percent is often considered the ideal)."

Expert Tips for Incubating Chicken Eggs - ...

I make sure the eggs are clean. 

I place a "X" on one side of the egg and an "O" on the opposite side. This is so that you can keep track of the last turn.

You'll want to turn the eggs at least 4 times a day for 18 days. I set alarms on my smart phone to remind me everyday. 

Because i dont currently have an automatic system, i watch the temperature very closely to make sure it stays within safe hatching temperatures and I Be sure there is always water in a bowl. Without a hygrometer, or a wetbulb, its difficult to determine if the moisture is right so just keep a small dish of water at all times.

On day 18, you must put the eggs on lockdown. That means that you close the incubator and do not open it under any circumstances until the eggs are hatched. This can occur anywhere from day 18 to day 22. 

When I get to day 18, i place a dampish wet cloth in with the eggs To increase the humidity. I have no way to measure it but it seems to work out with good hatch rates for me considering the methods.

Once your chicks hatch, you will keep them in the incubator until they are dry and fluffy. You can also offer water and click starter crumbles while they wait drying. Don't keep them in the incubator any longer than 2 days.

Once all your chicks are dry and fluffy, you can move them to a brooder box with a heat light. Iwill be posting soon about my make shift brooder that i can keep outside in the coop. Search Google for diy chick brooders for more information about the specifications you must meet for a brooder box that will Keep them warm, healthy, and safe.

I am obviously no pro where it comes to all of this farming and homesteading type stuff, I learn as I go and report my progress in my unprofessional way (laugh).

Although each and every hatch attempt I've made has been successful, it's difficult to give directions fully. Fortunately there are many websites that lay it all out for you so that you too can hatch chicken eggs.

My goal is to let people know that you can do these things without spending a fortune or having previous knowlege.

I'm a low income household and have several livestock animals, plus I garden. A lot of what I do to make it work must be free. Think about that for a moment...
We didn't come to this world with money and we weren't born to know how to live natural and free. We learned as human beings and technology brings the knowlege we need for anything we can think up.

The fact of the matter is this...
Even if you are poor, you can start learning and growing into a self sustaining homestead. Follow me for some free ideas on how I manage to continue growing my Sustainable Dreams Homestead! I'm moving right along. Come with me!

Below you will find some useful links to full instructions and information on hatching chicks. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Feeding Meat Rabbits for Intense Breeding Programs

Feeding Meat Rabbits for Intense Breeding Programs

This past year, my rabbitry has grown tremendously, and I’ve actually minimized my herd recently, keeping only those that mean the most to my breeding program. I do not breed through the hot weather months anymore because I feel its too hard on them. I currently have 3 bucks and 10 does in my breeding program. Most are Rex but I have begun Flemish giant again.

Currently, my breeding program is a relaxed one. I started out with an intense breeding program. I bred to try for 8 litters a year per doe. I am not so sure that I will pick back up on this level of intensity, but it allowed  growth at a faster rate.

Breeding for 8 litters per year a tight program. I re-bred just 14 days after each doe kindled. You can imagine the toll it could take on these girls if they didn’t get an increase in the nutritional value of their feed. We have a doe that has been our best mama. She has had 4 litters back to back and she is beginning to thin down and lose some condition. It is important we stay tuned into them and adjust their feed accordingly.

Online, you will read so many opinions, and different methods of feeding that it can be confusing. What I have come to discover is that your way, according to your own situation is the right way as long as your rabbits are healthy and productive.

My way of feeding  changed  from the way I began because my production level has changed and my girls work hard. I have learned a lot in this venture, and I’ll explain what I have found works for me when breeding is increased.

Any feed supply stores should have the things listed below. Tractor supply, local farmers Co-op, Grain mills, and even farmers may offer some or all of these feeds in larger quantity than what you would find at stores such as Walmart.


In my area, my feed stores only offer a 16% protein pellet. If you can find 17% or 18%, you should try to get that if you pellet feed.

While each person is different in their choice and situation, some rabbiteers choose to free feed their entire herd pellets. That has been my route to feeding since I began, and I have decided it is time to increase the quality for our does and grow outs.

My cost: $12.00 for 50 pound bag at my local farmers co-op.

Feed oats:

For all the nursing does and grow outs, I mix equal amounts of pellets and oats. They love oats and it helps my does keep in better condition as they nurse.

You can get feed oats or any other feed grains at most feed stores. I buy feed oats at the local farmers coop for $11 for 50 lb bag.


Offering free feed hay is also quite necessary regardless of the methods of feeding, as the rabbits need this for both nutrition as well as gut health. Grass hay is fine if that is whats available to you, or you can feed timothy or alfalfa hay. There are probably several varieties of hay you could safely choose from, and they would do if that’s all that was available…so long as they have some! Check with local farms first and you should be able to get good hay fairly cheap.

My cost: Round bale lower quality mixed grass hay $35.00…I am not happy with that though so, I would like to switch to smaller bales at the local feed store for $4.00-$6.00 each and use this round bale for bedding.

Alfalfa Cubes:

I offer all my rabbits a cube as needed. They usually take a couple of days to finish one, so it really depends on other factors or your own situation how you offer this. I figure about 1/2 cube per day per bun, and it actually works out that way at their pace.

My cost varies: 50 pound bag from $17 – $20 at feed store

BOSS- Black Oil Sunflower Seeds:

Buns love black oil sunflower seeds, and I used them for nursing does only. Depending on their litter size and their condition, I will feed 1 to 3 tablespoons boss per bun each day.

Boss is available at feed stores in 50 lb bags for approximately $25. You can also get them at Walmartfor about $6 for 5 lb bags.

So with the feeds listed above, I’ll tell you now exactly how our buns are fed.

In the morning, I feed everyone. I start with the nursing does. My does get 1 cup of pellets in one side of their dish and 1 cup of oats in the other side. Each doe also gets 1 to 3 tablespoons of black oil sunflower seeds depending on her condition, the age, and number of kits she has, and whether or not she is going to be bred back quickly. They get as much hay as they can eat everyday too. They also enjoy alfalfa cubes daily. Usually 1 a day plus fresh greens every couple of days like banana leaves and sweet potatoes. I repeat the feeding in the evening except for the boss.

NOTE that boss and oats have a warming effect on rabbits, so feed those in the evening through the hot temperature months.

When the kits get to coming out of their boxes and eating with mama, their food is the same but unlimited because at this point they are tiny eating machines and devour mama’s food.

The bucks always get a cup of pellets in the morning and lots of hay. At night when I go out, if they act hungry I’ll give them another 1/2 cup pellets and more hay. Every couple of days, I feed fresh greens which usually is banana leaves. They love their banana leaves!

The grow outs all get unlimited feed. I mix it half pellets and half oats. They get unlimited hay. I’d like to start measuring 1 cup total feed for each grow out with unlimited hay and test 1 group before I do this for all of them.

Please comment below and let me know how you feed your buns. We will learn best from each other.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Video: How to collect clay from your yard free and easy

One of my future goals is to build an earthen oven. It requires a lot of clay, and clay is an expense that Im not willing to pay. While I was digging garden beds, I noticed so much clay in the ground, it got me excited for that earthen oven. I decided to see if I could harvest pure clay easy enough to justify more digging.

Watch the video to see how you can utilize that free resource. When money really matters, FREE is always the way to go for homesteaders and wannabes alike.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Video: Processing a deer start to finish

I have never hunted myself, but I have been around hunters my whole life. I have gotten to a stage in life where I believe my heart  can do it now for the sake of freedom and self sustainability, and to know that the meat I eat isnt suffering on a factory farm.

I dont know how to even shoot a gun yet, but I anxious to find a teacher now.

The video below shows how Chris in the video processes his deer. He is good at it, and processes deer for others as well.

I cannot answer any questions about his methods or anyone elses methods because I dont have that experience mtself.

Also if you are close to Slocomb AL and would like to show me the ropes of shooting and hunting, please get in touch with me!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How to boil farm fresh eggs for a clean and easy peel

Anyone that raises their own chickens for eggs knows how difficult it can be to peel those boiled eggs.

Watch the video to see how you can boil your farm fresh eggs for the easy peel.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Watch a chick hatch from its shell

I never hatched any chicks on my own because while I was growing up, we always had little chicks following behind a mama.

Watch the video. Its was amazing to see that WE did this!

Friday, January 15, 2016

How to alum tan rabbit hides: Videos from start to finish

There's been alot of buzz online about alum tanning rabbit hides. I decided that since I've been alum tanning successfully that I would make some videos that explains how it's done.

Watch the 2 videos and get the written instructions.

Friday, January 8, 2016

A close look at wolves, warbles, botfly strike in animals

Watch this video of wolves or warbles in a squirrel. All of your animals have the potential to be infected by fly strike.

The larvae are implanted in the animals skin by the adult fly. The larvae grows there, leaving the animal with infection in the area. You can remove the larvae often by only squeezing it out from an open hole of the skin, but if the skin is healed over the infested area,  you may need to make a small incision in the skin to push the larvae out.
Once the larvae has been removed, clean the wound thoroughly and apply a topical antiseptic or blue coat to the wound and keep it clean. You may find that the infection from it is bad enough to justify using antibiotics. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Real Rex Rabbit Fur pillows

As I raise my rabbits for meat, I try to breed them for specific patterns and colors because I don't let anything go to waste. I tan the hides and use them for beautiful, hand sewn projects such as pillows, blankets, scarves, hats, and gloves. I also preserve the feet and tails for charms and the ears for dog treats.  I waste nothing and these animals are cared for very well here at Sustainable-Dreams-Rabbitry.

The pillows listed here are for sale. The prices at this point are figured by how many rabbit pelts were used and not by adding my time to craft them. If you do a search on Google for Rex fur items, you will see the value in Rex fur. All of my sales go back into the rabbitry and the dream to achieve a self sustained homestead.

The black and white pillow is not Rex fur. It has 9 pelts in it and is stuffed with polyester fill. It's firm and is 25 inches X 12 inches. I am pricing this pillow at 5.00 per pelt used. $45.00

The brown patchwork pillow is castor with some opal color, real Rex fur. I am pricing it for 5 pelts used in it at 10.00 per pelt. $50.00

I will ship these pillows anywhere in the US for an additional cost of $10.00 sh. Payment can be made via PayPal for online purchases.

If you are a local and close to Slocomb AL. I will give details on pick up via text message at (334)479-2091.

Please like my FB page

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Video: How to easily cut your rabbits nails

Cutting a rabbits nails is pretty easy once you get the feel of them the way I show you in the video.

I use human toenail clippers and they are very effective and comfortable for my hands.

Watch the video and see how easy it is to cut your rabbits nails.

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