Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Emu Hatch 2015 In Review

2015 was the third hatch for our emu farm in Chemainus

We produced 45 healthy chicks which is twice as much as last season

Now let's look at how we fared:
  •   We started the season with 8 hens (7 pairs and  one trio)

  •  5 hens were experienced layers and 3 were first timers (1 hen 1.5 yrs old, trio hens 2.5 and 1.5 yrs)

  •  4 of the experienced hens and the trio hens produced fertile eggs

  •  A total of 130 eggs were laid between Dec and May

Good News

  • the trio hens both laid eggs and the male is fertile (the optimum efficiency)
  •  one of the 5 yr old females is finally paired with a fertile male (however he did go broody too early and only 3 chicks were produced)

Not So Good News
  • 1 experienced hen's mate did not breed and only 11 eggs were produced
  • 2 experienced hens, unlike previous years had about half of their chicks not come to full term (dead in the shell)
So we have some decisions to make about our breeding program. What will we do with the pair that only laid 11 infertile eggs. They are both 3 years old and the hen laid 27 eggs (avg 508 g) last season however they also were all infertile. Quite a surprise for us as his behavior was "very male" during mating. Males frequently mature after two years of age so we expected him to be ready this year. Do we take a gamble that he will be ready next season or do we cut our losses and replace him?

Upon checking the chicks that died in the shell we found that they were at varying stages of development but clearly in the last third of the hatch. It is a common problem among emu farmers and opinions vary. We have ruled out feed as other pairs produced very healthy chicks. As our incubation process was consistent in temperature, humidity, air flow and proper turning we are now looking at the variables in the eggs themselves and the option of using a second incubator at a different humidity setting. We will need to talk to other farmers and hopefully learn from their experience.

We are off this week to Denver Colorado to the American Emu Association annual convention to do just that. 

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