VERY GRAPHIC PICTURES!!! Please don't look if you are a kid or can't handle death!My first try at incubating - Bought a Little Giant styroform with air fan and egg turner. Had two thermometers (one mercury and one digital) and a hygrometer for humity readings.
First Hatch Gone Bad
I did not calibrate the digital hygrometer/thermoter - so had no idea how accurate. But what I do know is when the digital read 100F the mercury seemed to show 102-104 *though hard to read in the bator window*. I did not open the bator ,except to candle, as I used an aquariam tube to put water in channles.
I started with 10 fertile eggs (blue eggs from Americana/EE). They were definately fertile based on end results.
I kept the temp at 100f based on the digital hygrometer the whole time. Yes there were adjustments , such as when I opened the bator to candle and a low temp at lock down (because of the time it takes to take out the egg turner and add water,ect.) and then the defining moment the HIGH 106 spike after I turned up the temp knob at lock down when the hygrometer stated 97 and I wanted it 100).
For the first 18 days I was trying to keep humidity between 50-55%. There were times it was 40% briefly or up to 60% briefly. I quickly learned to use the red plugs at the top of the LG bator , take plugs out to lower humidity or put in red plugs to bring up humidity (while ensuring lots of water in the channels).
I candled first on day 7 and one of the 10 looked clear, the rest I could definately see veining and a darker mass area and movement. I again candled at day 14 and found one more egg pretty much clear and again movement. At day 18 lockdown date I candled once more and all 8 'appeared' fine , did not see movement at lockdown. Looking back I might have made lockdown day one day to early, based on other people who set their eggs the same day Jan. 15th and same time 6pm. I thought lockdown was Feb. 2nd, but others were calculating lock down to be Feb. 3rd.
So, at lock down temp dropped and only went back up to 97 an hour after final close of bator. Well me big defining moment and most likely the cause of the bad hatch was I bumped up the temp knob on the LG just a tiny but and then left for work (had to choice I had to get to work for meetings). I called home to get a temp reading from my boyfriend , he finally responded back after THREE hours to tell me the temp was 106. OMG!!!!! 106 for probably 3 hours at the start of lock down day 18. I was devistated , but kept on incubating 'just in case' by the grace of god the high temp didn't hurt them.
Then on day 20 no pips, peeps, cracks,ect. All the other people in the 'hatch a long' where posting about the pips and cracks and peeps and hatching starting day 20. So, with a heavy heart I suffered through to day 21 with a slight bit of hope. Checking the bator constantly, waking up HOPING I would see one or two chickys that made it. NOPE! nothing. I started panicing and posting on BYC and looking for others that had high temp spikes or late hatches. Almost no one posted about high temp spikes, a lot did have low spikes and just had very late hatches. I contacted the breeder I got the eggs from and asked for advise, she was so supportive during the entire 21 days. She gave me more hope that things might just be late and to have patience. However, when I told her about my humidity levels during day 1 -18 (the 50-55% range) she said 'they might have drowned'. OMG I drowned them and cooked them. Oh I felt horrible.
towards the end of day 22 I could not stand the torture of having 'hope' any longer. I candled them once more to look for movement, there was none. Then one by one I opened all 8 eggs that candled fine on day 18 and looked inside. And the pictures below are what I found ... so I am still not 100% sure where I failed and at what day they actually died, but as you can see the 8 eggs were fertile and well developed, kinda looks like they did NOT consume the yolk (I think that means something about what day they died on).
1. to high humidity day 1 - 18 50-50%
2. lockdown day one day to early
3. high temp spike - 106 for 3 hours
4. not 100% on which thermometer was accurate (the mercury would show 102 while the digital would show 100 - but the chicks seemed to have developed while I read 100 on the digital)
Based on the Chicken embrology as explained at the URL below, I'd have to say all 8 chicks still had yolk sac but also fully developed claws/beak - so they must have died approx. Day 16-19. Almost makes sense then that the 3 hour temp spike 106 degrees on day 18 may have killed them.
(NOTE: info taken from http://msucares.com/poultry/reproductions/poultry_chicks_embryo.html)
Sixteenth day - scales, claws and beak becoming firm and horny
Seventeenth day - beak turns toward air cell
Nineteenth day - yolk sac begins to enter body cavity
Twentieth day - yolk sac completely drawn into body cavity; embryo occupies practically all the space within the egg except the air cell
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