Plymouth Rock Chicken


Origin & short history

The Plymouth Rock or “Barred Rock” is a breed of domestic chicken from the United States. It originated in New England  in the middle of the 19th century ( first exhibited as a breed in 1869) from cross-breeding of Dominiques and Black Javas Cochin and Brahma.

plymouth rock lay hensPlymouth Rock breed Characteristics

Productivity Focus: Meat and egg

Egg production: 190-220 eggs per year

Egg shell color: yellow-brown

Egg weight: 60 g

Live weight of hens: minimum 2.95 kg

Live weight of Roosters: 4 kg (min.3.4 kg)

Color of the feathering: The birds of this breed have striped feathering with different shades. There are also, birds with white, black, and pale yellow plumage color. In males at the neck and waist black and white stripes are narrower than in hens and figure seems a little brighter. In hens color striped feathers are more vivid on the neck and lower back feathers are not different from the basic color. Day-old chicks are covered with black feathers, and have bright spots on stomach area.

Skin color: yellow

Head: medium sized.

Beak: short & yellow.

Eyes: orange-red colored.

Earrings are oval, the ear lobes bright red.

Neck: Medium length and densely feathered.

Chest: broad and convex.

Wings: tight to the body & slightly raised.

Back is broad and horizontal; it has a small lift to the tail.

Tail: small, with thick plumage, laid back, with moderately long braids.

Thighs: short with thick plumage and yellow metatarsus.

Hens begin production at the age of six months.

Livability:   about 96%.

Advantages of the breed:

  1. Calm temper
  2. Excellent meat quality
  3. A good egg production
  4. Adaptability to various housing and environmental conditions

Michael J. Mavridis D.V.M
CEO / Founder of Mavridis Zootechniki Ltd.

Leghorn chicken

Origin & short history

The origins of the Leghorn are not clear; it appears to derive from light breeds originating in rural Tuscany. The name comes from Leghorn, the traditional anglicisation of Livorno, the Tuscan port from which the first birds were exported to North America. The date of the first exports is variously reported about 1830 and 1852. They were initially known as “Italians”; they were first referred to as “Leghorns” in 1865, in Worcester, Massachusetts.

leghorn lay years


Leghorn breed Characteristics


Productivity Focus: egg

Egg production: up to 300 eggs per year, and even more

Shell color: white

Egg weight: 55-60 g

Live weight of chickens: 1.5-2 kg

Live weight of Roosters: 2.6 kg

Color of the plumage: white, yellow, black and brown

Leghorn chickens are small with a vertical wedge-shaped body, which is typical for them to sign.

Skin color is mostly yellow or flesh-colored. Head – a small, leaf-shaped with a comb and a long, thin neck.

Beak – short, yellowish slightly curved at the end. Leghorn is characterized by a large protruding breast and wide belly. The adult bird legs medium length, white, thin, young animals

The color of the legs is yellow.

Tail: wide, with a slope of 40 ° with respect to the body.

Leghorn starts laying usually at 4.5 – 5 months of age. The instinct of brooding is missing, so to replace them young hens must be purchased. A year later, the bird is usually exhausted, which is not surprising with such a unique performance. Therefore to keep Leghorn layers  in production for more than a year is not suggested.

Puberty in the birds of this breed comes relatively early, in 17-18 weeks.

Hatchability is low and it reaches a maximum of 92%. Fertilized eggs are typically 95%.


Michael J. Mavridis D.V.M
CEO / Founder of Mavridis Zootechniki Ltd.

What is the type of egg incubator that really suits your needs?


What is the ideal type of egg incubator for the hobbyist and the small farmer? Why prefer D.I.Y.?

Most small incubator users and wannabe D.I.Y. incubator constructors are either:

  • Hobbyists and students. They incubate eggs for fun or study and don’t necessarily want to make a business out of incubating eggs. Capacity needed from 20 to 100 eggs.
  • Family farms that raise poultry for their own consumption and backyard farmers. Capacity needed from 50 to 150 eggs.
  • Future professional farmers that want just to “test the waters” and their needs are limited. Capacity needed from 100 to 300 eggs.

A capacity from 50 to 150 eggs has been proved to be the most economical in the long term. Incubators of this capacity are the most common in the market of commercial incubators.

 But why does this happen?

Let’s assume that we place a number of fertile eggs into an incubator. Even if they are all fertile, the success rate is not usually higher than 60% to 95%.

Note that the overall cost of the chicks you produce includes the buying price of the eggs for hatching, the costs of labor, feed and the energy (electrical or other type) you will need to keep them warm for the first weeks of their life.

The energy cost is the same whether you have to raise 15 chicks (which are the outcome of a 20 eggs incubator) or 35 to 50 chicks (which are the outcome of a 50 eggs incubator). This happens because you must always use the same 150-250 Watts infrared lamp. So the energy cost is the same. Energy is not always cheap.

Do we need a flexible and sophisticated incubator? YES!

Usually the users need to incubate eggs from different species of birds (of course this can only be done in different batches since mixing the eggs from different species is absolutely wrong).

Different species of birds need different settings of incubator temperature humidity and ventilation in order to hatch successfully.

Moreover the incubation time is very different among species and some bird eggs require even more special handling and have their own tricks and do’s and don’ts (like goose eggs).

Which problems can occur at the cheap commercial incubators(40-100 egg capacity)?

These devices are in fact small capacity, forced air circulation, combined setters-hatchers. They are designed for an all in-all out operation, they are single or double tiered, with an egg capacity from 40 to 100.

Their degree of sophistication and automatization varies.

For example let’s take into consideration the simple editions. They have a fixed temperature, come equipped with thermometers and sometimes with hygrometers. Their box is made of cheap p.v.c., abs plastic or Styrofoam (some of the Styrofoam ones are really dangerous), they usually have bad quality electronical boards and their fans are unsuitable for humid environments. They usually break down fast, within 6 to 18 months from the purchase date, sometimes even earlier. Their actual life expectancy is one to one and a half year.

Their buying price lies between 50 and 100 € for the 50 egg incubators with manual or semi-auto egg turning and up to 150-250 € for the incubators equipped with automatic turners. Their temperature is not adjustable but most models have a rather fixed or tricky temperature control. The thermometers and hygrometers used in these cheap models are completely inaccurate.

Their manufacturers claim that you can hatch all types of bird eggs.

From our personal and professional experience (we have been marketing such an Eastern European made incubator with this capacity and price for nearly 2 years) we recommend you to avoid it by all means!! It is a good toy to play but not a real tool for the serious users of incubators. They are a total nightmare for the dealer and for the end user.

For example most of these 50 egg capacity incubators we used to market broke down after 3 to 6 months of use. But we had already signed a 1 year guarantee for each of our customers. Since we keep our promises you can imagine what happened!! 

What about the expensive ones?

Another choice that the incubator user has, is to spend from 650 to 1000 €   for sophisticated auto turning devices from respectable manufacturers (of the same capacity as the ones mentioned above), with good box construction and accurate temperature and humidity control. Their incubator box is not made of plastic but of polyurethane panel with painted aluminum or stainless steel surfaces (these incubators cost over 1000 €) or of laminated plywood. Usually the humidity control of these machines is optional and costs extra 150-200 Euros. The air exchange is done by regulating rosettes and holes in the box.

Why dont you make one yourself?

The cheaper solution is to make your own high performance incubator by D.I.Y.

Michael J. Mavridis D.V.M
CEO / Founder of Mavridis Zootechniki Ltd.

Incubator VS Broody Hen. Which one is the best?

browordIs the  all natural way ( the broody hen) the best way to obtain chicks?

Is the broody hen solution better than the incubator?

What  are the pros and cons for each solution?

In this article we will try to answer this question and analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each solution separately.

Without doubt, the best incubator is the female bird.

The hen knows her job perfectly  by instinct.

She knows how to turn the eggs in the nest, she knows when an egg is very hot or very cold, when it is barren or dead, and when the eggs hatch, she is the best natural brooding pen.

Here are some of the aspects you should take into consideration before making the final decision which way to use.

Broody Hen Advantages

  • There is no need  for the farmer to collect and store the eggs. The broody hen does this.
  • There is no need  for the farmer to monitor temperature, humidity, and ventilation during the incubation and hatching process.There is also no need to take care for the proper turning of the eggs. Broody hen does this many times a day.
  • The farmer does not  have to worry about power cuts. Broody hen does not use electricity.


Broody Hen Disadvantages

  • Some breeds of poultry won’t  go broody at all. Moreover, especially regarding the “industrial type” hybrids Poultry Genetists have targeted to the genetic selection of individuals on the basis of their reduced tendency for brooding (for at least 100 years now). Many of the backyard poultry from around the globe are descendants of these hybrids.
  • The female bird is usually  broody when you do not need chicks and almost never when you need it.
  • You can’t force a female bird to go broody.
  • Broody hens can only be used seasonally whenever they go broody (usually in the warmer months of the year)
  • The number of eggs a hen can hatch is rather limited and species specific.
  • Broody hens require an isolated and undisturbed area away from the other chickens in order to give a successful hatch.
  • Sometimes the hen abandons the  nest  and the embyos inside the eggs die.
  • Unfertile eggs have a tendency to go unnoticed by the farmer allthough the hen notices them but she can’t take them out of the nest.These eggs may break inside the nest and  scince they are roten spread microbial infection all over the other eggs and can destroy a whole hatch.



Incubator Advantages

  • Incubators are easy to find and cheap to buy these days at least the more basic models that they are widespread.
  • You can go D.I.Y. and make your own incubator if you have basic D.I.Y.skills
  • Can be used any time of the year.
  • We are able to hatch any number of eggs we want and when we want. Capacities of modern incubators range between 12 eggs up to thousands of eggs.
  • It is a wonderful appliance that help us save precious eggs from some rare species of birds.

Incubator Disadvantages

  • The user has to collect and store eggs himself.
  • The user has to monitor temperature and humidity.(or buy automatic)
  • The user has to turn eggs and ensure proper ventilation.(or buy automatic)
  • Some cheap plastic or styrofoam incubators ( of East European and Asiatic origin) have relatively short lifespan and they are equipped with poor quality electronics. Some of  them were proved to be even dangerous to the users. They burn down easily.So  be cautius. Buy from respectable manufacturers. But well constructed incubators  from respectable manufacturers are not cheap.
  • In order to get the best results from the incubator, the user must choose the appropriate place to install it. If the room temperature is high, above 30 ° C  or low, below 15° C you will probably need to operate it inside an air conditioned room. There is a golden rule for the hatching room temperature.If you feel comfortable inside the room temperature, the room has the proper temperature to operate an incubator inside it.
  • Power cuts can sometimes destroy a whole batch of hatching eggs.


Michael J. Mavridis D.V.M
CEO / Founder of Mavridis Zootechniki Ltd.