So 31 days ago I decided to pick up a $59.00 dollar incubator at our Essex Co-op and take the plunge. I have 4 hens and 1 Rooster. My chickens weren't laying every day and collecting eggs for incubation was a bit staggered. I did manage to place 8 eggs in my new incubator in a weeks time. I was so excited to start candling my eggs and sure enough, as the days went on... I had one fertile egg... then two... then three.... and then to my amazement .... all 8 eggs were fertile and showing signs of life. I was in complete awe at seeing the movement in the eggs. I probably candled them at least twice a day...
I did a ton of research, several times a day, as for what to expect and what to do and not to do. I knew they all might not make it, but I was going to do my best and make sure I had enough knowledge to give them their best shot. My incubator had a factory setting of 100 degrees and it showed me what my humidity was... so as far as I was concerned... I was good to go. I kept the humidity between 45 and 55 throughout the entire 18 days of incubation. I followed what I learned from all my reading and made sure three days before some of my eggs were due, I did not turn them any longer. I did however, have to open the incubator and turn the other eggs, as I mentioned, I placed them in throughout that week, and some still needed to be turned. I also made sure my humidity was now between 65 and 70. Now I just wait....
When I saw my first pip I was just like...." Oh, my God, this is happening!"
My first chick hatched without incident. In fact... I had a pip when I got up that morning and about 4 hours later, while I was feeding my niece and missed the entire hatch, there she was.. just laying there, feet up in the air! hahaaa I thought, wow, that was easy. Now what??? How long do I leave her in there? According to all my research, she could dry in there, but because I raised my humidity to 65 now... will she dry o.k? I cursed myself for not placing my eggs in the incubator all at the same time!
I decided to take the plunge and get her out quickly... as the pip in my second egg was not really an open pip, but more like just a crack.
I was quick... I took her out and placed her in some shavings under a heating lamp. I did hold her, and rub her and talk to her, under the lamp .... and she started to dry nicely. I had a little life. I did it! Only 7 to go!
The second egg hatched about 2 hours later and I repeated the process. I was able to place them in the same box, under the lamp without worry, because although the first chick was more dry.... they were only 3 hours apart, and I wasn't concerned the newbie would get picked on.
Second baby is not hooked up to any wires.. although it appears that way! Just a bad angle for a photograph!
So first baby was a day late, second baby was a day early and my third hatch arrived exactly on time.
Yay me! And now I get a break, because my next egg wasn't due to hatch until two days later. This was exhausting. I sat in front of that incubator all weekend. I rubbed each one under the heating lamp and was just so darn pleased with myself. Every time I opened that lid, I made sure temp went back to normal and that the humidity was back to normal, before I walked away. I looked in that incubator several times a day, awaiting more pips and each time, I took photographs, video and made phone calls. I was just so darn excited.
My fourth hatch piped and 16 hours later, there was no change. I know what I read, and I know they can take up to 24 hours to come out, but I really suspected something was wrong. I had to keep opening the incubator after all and this means the humidity and temp did fluctuate. What have I done????? What do I do? I remember thinking... "well, they tell you not to help until you stop hearing peeps, or the peeps get weaker. Why the hell would I want to wait that long?" If you help them too soon, you could have disastrous results. God it all sounded so.... awful. Then, I read something someone posted, and it was a man who basically said, "for the love of God, if the chick needs help, help it! Here is a video of me, helping.... just be careful." He sounded so secure and the video was very informative.
So I took the plunge. I used tweezers, and just picked away at the shell slowly.... very slowly. I basically picked away at the entire half of the shell, still leaving her wrapped in the white rapping, that I didn't know was starting to shrink wrap around her, because I was so afraid she'd get a chill I was performing this minor surgery under the heating lamp! DUH!!! Once I realized what was happening I immediately dabbed my finger in water and started rubbing the white covering.... it softened up right away... I placed her on warm, damp paper towels in a small bowl, and covered her with a warm, damp paper towel and placed her back in the incubator. I just waited a few minutes and she finally popped out of her egg. Once that happened, I did rub her dry under the heating lamp again... and she seemed fine. I did almost lose her. So what seemed to be such an easy task, now turned terrifying to me. I simply could not do that again. It was maddening. I did not want to have to help any others.
Chick 5, 6 and 7 all went well.... Only one more to go!!! Good lord... statistically I did pretty good!
Number 8 hatched and I placed her in with chick number 7... after all they were only a few hours apart. I did not have to assist any other chicks and the size difference compared to chicken number one who hatched 6 days earlier and chicken numbers 7 and 8 were really noticeable.
A few hours passed and I realized that chick number 8 had a problem with her feet.
Her little toes were all curled in. I did a little more research on this issue and read that I could use a bandaid to try and correct the problem..... so that I did!
However, I soon found out that she was also walking on her 'elbows' for lack of the proper term, and even after 24 hours and removing the bandaid, her feet went right back to a curling position. Her elbows were raw from walking on them, and although she tried, it was hard for her to stand, eat and drink on her own. I had to make the heartbreaking decision to let her go. This was no life for a chicken. Her name was Muffin and she is buried in my back yard with a little headstone. My poor little Muffin. I'm sorry if it was something I did, or shouldn't have done.
I keep telling myself that.. for my first hatch.... 7 out of 8 isn't bad.
Here is Curly ( daddy to the babies ) meeting his first born.. who I think is a girl! ( Curly Sue she will be called ) Also, two little grey babies!!! Mom is an EE.... I think these two are boys!
Well, that is my story! I am keeping two of this group. One is the second born, who looked like a little owl when she was born, so she will be called Hoo, and the other we call Monkey, which is the one I had to assist with the hatch. I think she is a female also.. I found a great home for the other 5 babies and I am so happy I get to watch them grow.
This was a wonderful experience over all and I hope this thread helps someone going through their first hatching project as well.
Thanks for reading.