July 11, 2011

Learning by doing

A month ago, I put eggs in the incubator.  I thought I was following the instructions and eagerly awaited 4th of July weekend when they were scheduled to hatch.

About 2 or 3 days before the hatching was scheduled to occur, I thought I was losing my mind because I kept hearing chirping in the kitchen but couldn't figure out where it was coming from.  Then I realized that it was coming from an egg!

Greg didn't believe me. The chirping never happened while he was in the kitchen with me. Until it did. And we both froze and stared at each other with wide eyes. "I TOLD YOU!!! I TOLD YOU!!!" He pretended that I was crazy and that he hadn't heard anything but he was excited too.


I know someone will ask...
That's a folded up cereal box at the bottom of the pic.
I put it in there to separate the RIR
and Ameracauna chicks when they hatched.

Then, the chirpy egg started to hatch, also known as pipping.  The chirps grew louder and more incessant. Through the crack, we could see the chick moving around in the egg.  It was so exciting!

We got the brooder ready and then waited.

A few things bothered me: there was only one voice chirping when there should have been close to 40 and the chick was no longer making progress with the pipping.

Everything I read was very consistent: Do NOT open the incubator unless the chick is in danger of dieing. Do NOT help the chick unless it is seriously stuck.  So I left the chick alone even though my gut was telling me something was wrong. I wasn't seeing any movement through the crack in the shell and that had me concerned.

The chirping continued for a few more hours. Finally around bedtime, I decided it was time to help the chick, but it was too late and the chick was dead.

What I learned was that there wasn't enough humidity in the incubator so the shell had dried out, trapping the chick inside.

None of the other eggs hatched.

I did several things wrong from the very beginning.
  1. As Greg can attest, I am not a very patient person. I didn't wait long enough to stabilize the incubator temperature before putting the eggs in. 
  2. There were a few high and low temperature fluctuations throughout the incubation.
  3. I did not put the eggs point down in the egg turner.
  4. I did not add water to create humidity during the incubation period.
These are all big issues that caused the chicks to die during incubation.

Sometimes you have to learn by doing. I am sure I will not make these mistakes again.  Yes, I'll try to hatch out chicks again at some point.  I'll probably wait till fall so they will be at laying age just as spring starts and the rest of the hens start laying as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment