Final ( I think) tally on the first batch was 17 out of 20 eggs. I got impatient and took one of the remaining three out and cracked it....... DANG IT!! Totally formed chick!!! It was not moving so I am not sure that it was alive..... going to leave the other two for a little longer.
Fantastic news is------ Eggs in the second batch are pipped and I can hear them cheeping!! Even after all that door opening and fiddling around with the first batch, I know there are live chicks...... how many is any body's guess.
I have been very busy over the last few days off farm at the Old Iron Club Days in Fredonia, Ks. I really haven't had time to check these eggs for signs of life like I did the other batch. I chatted with some other fellows on another poultry forum who were pretty adamant about doing a lock down from day 18-22. Since I am busy, this will be my version of a "lock down". It will just be day 20 thru 22 for them.I have been assured that the chicks that hatch will be fine and the eggs won't suffer from being bumped around by newly hatched chicks. I am not going to be able to get back to it until late tonight and I will have to try to restrain myself to keep from opening the door.
The first batch pretty much convinced me that I don't need a lock down with this incubator..... I really did open it up a ridiculous number of times.....
Today has been quite a day in the incubator! So far, 9 chicks hatched, 5 more working hard at it and just 4 eggs waiting.
I shared this with another forum. I was advised that it was a serious mistake to open the incubator during hatch. Let me be very clear--- I have opened this incubator every day that I possibly could--- sometimes twice a day...... morning and night. It has been opened every day for the last week by my hubby to check to see if they were pipped. I have opened it many times today just because I wanted to...... and to take out dry chicks that were moving the other eggs around.
The humidity has dropped to 55% and been as high as 67%. Today the temperature has dropped down to 94 degrees at one point while I had the door open
The true test will be in about 3 days when the eggs on the top shelf should begin to hatch.
I have truly enjoyed candling these eggs and I have learned so much by doing it. It also allowed me to remove eggs that were not going to hatch early on. I am not sure just how to calculate a hatching percentage...... I got rid of the "bad eggs"...... so I, in essence, stacked the deck in my favor.
The two eggs that I gave a little help this morning hatched out just fine.
It is almost 10pm...... I am restraining myself from going over to check.......
Morning update :
Somehow--- I missed an egg. Had two more out this morning. So far there are 14 hatched out. There are 3 more with little beaks sticking out and one that I can hear tapping. That leaves 3 still waiting. Of course, I had to candle them and they still look good.....large intact air cells.
I went south to visit and attend my sister's wedding. I was gone for a week and my husband kept vigilant watch over the incubator. Before I left, I removed the egg turner just to make his life a little easier by having one less chore.
Honestly, I forgot to write down the date that I set these eggs. I had narrowed it down to a 3 day window. They waited until I got home. Please note that they did NOT get turned for a week.
On Monday, Neil's update by phone told me that none were pipped but he thought that he could hear something cheeping faintly.
I got in too late on Tuesday to check but on Wednesday morning, there was one cheeping egg! By Wednesday afternoon, I had 2 pipped eggs and another noisy one. By the time that I closed up the barn after chores, I had 3 pipped and another noisy one.
This morning, I raced over to find one chick almost out of its shell, 6 more pipped and the other two that were pipped last night had NOT made any progress. I broke all the rules....... those two I gently cracked their eggs a little more open. I did not open it up and they are still fully encased. We will see what happens.
I candled the remaining eggs --- basically I am just looking at their air cells. Two more have stuck their beaks through into the cell. There is another making noise!
I am a bit worried about the chicks that are almost out. They just do not seem very vigorous.....
I did not count but there are 4-6 more eggs still waiting for action. When I candle them, they are full and the air cells look a bit larger as they should....
So far..... I am pretty darned impressed!
I found a camera so I am taking pictures! Brace yourselves......
My dear friend, Toni, took some pictures for me...... since I am still looking for my camera and do not know how to download from my very old cell phone.
This little flashlight is really quite good and shows even more detail when it is dark.
Our little buddy, Payton, was very interested.......
Quite honestly, I can remember thinking that it really just doesn't feel right..... It should have been warmer. I usually didn't leave the door open for any length of time but this made a good picture of how the turning trays are set up. The top one is wrong and if I had it full of eggs, those on the row nearest the door just might fall out if it were tipped towards the door and I was messing around with them. I have since changed it so that they rotate from side to side (as on the bottom shelf) rather than from front to back.
I am thinking that 92 degrees may be warm enough to get fertile eggs to "start" but not warm enough to keep them growing and developing much past about a week. Bummer.... but really this is all my own fault. John had shown and told on other posts which thermometer that he recommended. I just took a short cut and grabbed a thermometer out of an old incubator...... and paid the price! Funny thing is that I used this digital thermometer with the Styrofoam incubators. When I packed it all up after last year, the digital got separated and used somewhere else..... handy thing that it is. I was just so anxious to get this started that I didn't take the time to go find it.
It is a darn good thing that I am known as a goat lady and not a chicken lady! The first batch of chicks was a total failure and really discouraged me. I knew that something was seriously wrong. After about 24 days in the incubator, I pulled them all out and broke open several of them just to see what the heck was going on in there.
There were a few that were just too yucky to tell. Most of the others were just heartbreaking. Little chicks that had just stopped growing and died. In my estimation, at about 8-10 days along. That coincided with the time that I put the second batch of eggs in. I began to think that it had something to o with temperature.
The second batch of chicks were still wiggling around in their shells. I chatted with John on Facebook about it. He was very patient but I could just imagine him restraining himself on his side of the keyboard.
We agreed that I needed a better thermometer. I knew that I had a nice digital indoor/outdoor model with a high and low setting---- packed up somewhere.
I have been very busy with other things and missed two nights candling the eggs. BIG MISTAKE!!!
As soon as I held up the light, I knew there was trouble. They had not developed much at all since my last check...... and they were not moving. It was 10pm but I ransacked the house and found that digital thermometer. Put in a new battery and put the sensor on the bottom shelf of the incubator.
(Please insert all kinds of cursing, wailing and teeth grinding at this point)
NINETY TWO DEGREES!!!!! The standard thermometer that I had been using was obviously terribly messed up.
I regulated the incubator to turn the lights on at 97 and go off at 99. So far, according to the high/low temp readings, it has been steady as a rock for two days.
Now...... what to do with the second batch of chicks.... when I candle them now...... I think that can see movement in a few of them. Since I am forever an optimist, I am going to watch them for a few more days. Meanwhile, I am saving up eggs to try again....... third time is the charm--- right??
I have several of these.......This is a blood ring and means that the embryo stopped growing and has died.
I noticed them early on this experiment but wasn't sure what it meant. I moved them and any other eggs that I had questions about into the first two rows in the turner. I got busy and missed a day before I could check them again. A couple of the suspects had changed or began to develop in what I thought looked promising so I moved them further back into the incubator. I am glad now that I did not replace the infertile eggs tossed earlier. Their spaces have given me a little room to shuffle these
I was a tad bit impatient to get this experiment going. The next morning, I put the egg turner in and loaded it with eggs. The temp was a little low so I played with the thermostat.... again. All went well for a day or two. Then I discovered a couple of mistakes.
I decided that I should read a bit more about this and went back to John's web site. I read that John soaks his eggs in water to find any that have tiny cracks. I figured that it was probably too late so I will try that with the next batch.
I also began to candle the eggs. Several website warned not to do this. I threw caution to the wind and did it anyway!! I think this is one of the points that has gotten John in trouble with the experts. I had no idea what I should be looking at so I again went to Google. I found a great website...... unfortunately it is pretty fancy and I can't get it to let me link to this blog as I normally would. It is called The Chicken Chick and Embryo Development. Wonderful pictures of the egg inside and out.
Anyway, I tragically realized that I had put the automatic egg turner in the wrong way. When it was at full tilt, the eggs lean out toward the open door..... as I reached in to get one of the eggs in the middle, I accidently brushed one of the eggs near the door a little too much. When it fell out, I managed to catch it before it hit the floor but it still cracked open. According to the pictures, it was about 3 days along.....
A couple of days later, during a candling frenzy, I put another egg turner in the bottom section--- this time tilting from side to side instead of front to back. As I looked at the eggs, moved them to the lower section. This is when I found the four that are apparently not fertile. Clear as a bell..... and Precious, the Great Dane, enjoyed the light snack.
What I have seen is that the eggs are developing at different rates. The temp has evened itself out and is staying pretty close to 99. I am guessing that the early fluctuations caused them to begin growing at different times.
I am a long way from hatching but......this is SOOOOOO COOL! John said that I would be able to see the chicks move and it would help me to decide how to regulate the temperature. If they get sluggish, probably too warm. I don't know what I was thinking but..... tonight, I was looking at this dark blob--- and it MOVED!
I have had four children, worked as a child birth educator, labor coach and delivered probably every kind of farm animal imaginable....... but it still is stunningly beautiful to actually SEE this tiny life starting. I grin every time that I think about it.
The name "Dorema" comes from the Bible. James 1:17 "Every good and perfect gift if from above....." The Greek word for a good and perfect gift is dorema. That is exactly what our lives together on our farm has been.