A harrowing but fulfilling first time hatching experience... Never give up hope.

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Shalah, Aug 10, 2014.

  1. Shalah

    Shalah New Egg

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    First of all I want to thank everyone for their input into these forums and the fantastic information and opinions they give as my hatching chickens would not have survived otherwise.

    My story ….. I received an incubator (Janoel24) when I purchased some parrots and subsequently thought… hmmm…. Chickens would be good to have. I saw some fertilised Australorp eggs for sale on Gumtree website and decided to go and pick up a dozen eggs and incubate my first ever eggs.

    Candled them at 7 days ( only 1 was infertile and was discarded) and everything seemed fine using incubator standard settings. I then read about temp and humidity control problems and placed 25 yr old round dial style thermometer and hygrometer inside incubator. These had previously been hanging on a wall for all those yrs. I read about calibrating the hygrometer by placing a small bottle cap full of wet salt in sealed plastic bag with it and leaving overnight. The reading the next morning should have been 75% from the salt water but it was 82% so I knew it was reading 7 too high.

    Candled again at day 14. Everything was going great….. Or so I thought. At this stage I pencilled around the air cell when I candled the eggs.

    Day 17 I had to travel away for two days. I think this is where I made my big mistake. I blocked what I thought were drainage holes in the bottom of the incubator so that I could place more water in the base so it wouldn’t dry out while I was away. I then left them like this through til day 21. The hygrometer read 90% which should have been 83% with my corrected figure.

    Day 21 ….. 1 hatched yayyyy ….. plus another external pip ……. Then another…. Then another. Then nothing. No sound and no movement. After 24 hrs I was worried. I decided to risk checking one by placing a cloth with hotter water on it into incubator as I removed the egg to quickly raise humidity again. ( I had read I could also use a hot steamy bathroom if needed.). Gently breaking away the air cell, noticed the outer membrane was dry, white, VERY tough with a wide space between it and the shell around the chick. I gently touched the none moving beak … nothing …. As the membrane was too tough to tear with tweezers, I cut it away and assumed the chick to be dead. Inside the next membrane layer was white as well. I damped it with luke warm water and could see it had no blood veins so I began to slowly peel away the outer shell , outer membrane, and inner membrane, wetting it as I went looking for blood veins that I had read about. This was now a learning experience. Half way through, I saw very slight movement. This had now become assisted hatching ..... So I kept going very carefully and the more membrane I removed the more active the chick was. I think I had found out what “shrink wrapping” is. I removed the top half of the egg, then wrapped the remaining egg and chick in paper towel, making sure the beak was not covered. I then thoroughly wet it down with warm water from a small spout squeeze bottle, avoiding the nostrils... then back into incubator.

    I checked another egg, and it was exactly the same. The outer membrane was holding them like a tight little golf ball inside the egg....... And so my experience continued.

    I then came to an egg where the chick was upside down and couldn’t pip, and unfortunately dead ….. and then the next was the same but slight movement … arrghhhh… it died before I could find its head…. And then another. I was determined to try and save it, so, wasting no time, I gently felt for what I thought was the neck and with a gentle force was able to pull the head out from between its legs. I DID NOT TRY AND REMOVE ANY CHICK FROM THE BASE OF ITS EGG IN CASE ITS YOLK WAS NOT ABORBED. I then quickly wrapped it in wet paper towel, put it back in the incubator and waited.

    I stayed up all night, re wetting the paper towel on all my eggs each 1.5 hrs after cutting away a little more membrane after ensuring there were no veins.

    So… from 11 fertile eggs.. I lost two “ breach babies” from my own inexperience. The other nine are happily running around the brooder.

    Two of them had limp necks and couldn’t stand for the first two days and just slept the whole time. I assumed they may have pushed out of the bottom of the egg too early ( raw navel areas that I dabbed with talc powder as it was all I had available, so it wouldnt stick to floor). I was right…. They just needed extra time and are now as noisy and active as the rest.

    Once again… thank you for the invaluable information and personal opinions.

    Im off to buy a new hygrometer when I decide to hatch another lot of chicks.
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Apr 8, 2013
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    Hello and [​IMG]

    Overall, that sounds like you had a bit of a best case scenario, as far as good outcomes go when the situation was initially bad. :)

    It'll probably help someone else in future, now that you took the time to write your experience, too.

    Best wishes.
     
  3. Shalah

    Shalah New Egg

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    Aug 10, 2014
    Thanks for the welcome chooks4life.

    I think I was very lucky .. as well as very determined... for a first time hatch. Before the hatch ( which was 3 days ago) I thought I had read as much as I could about possible problems but wasn't expecting the shrunken membrane when I actually had some condensation on the inside of the incubator at times. I guess I was expecting more "sticky chicks" if anything, but the chicks membranes looked just like the image in the thread "Shrink wrap" vs. "Sticky chick""? and they definitely were not "gluey".

    I just wish I had looked up more images of the different positions that chicks can get into that cause pipping problems. I had read that these positions were lethal and that nothing could be done about it. The two chicks that died were both fully formed. Is there any way to tell by candling if a chick is in the wrong position at an earlier stage ... say Day 18? .... as I was looking for evidence of a pip but this was never going to occur.
     
  4. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: From what I've heard they can move into the wrong positions within 48 hours of the due date, and by that stage it'd be nigh impossible to see their positioning within the egg due to how much space they're occupying.

    I've never done artificial incubation but have assisted some hatches, but even those in the wrong positions all pipped.

    Apparently there is a genetic predisposition to moving into the wrong position, so if you breed your own now or in future it's worth keeping a journal to track any complications to see if there is a familial trend.

    Best wishes.
     
  5. Shalah

    Shalah New Egg

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    Aug 10, 2014
    Thanks Chooks4life.

    All 9 are doing well today ( day 9). On day 5 the last chick, and smallest of all ( upside down chick whose yoke was slow to absorb) was sleeping all the time, then by the end of day 6 it wasnt eating, drinking and couldnt stand. It had a white poop stuck to his behind.

    So....day 7 I crop fed it .3mls sugar water and within 30 mins it had eyes open and was standing. Each hr I gave it a .3mls of hand rearing mix and by the end of the day it was standing and drinking water, Then yesterday it was up and feeding with the others again and today its going strong though its much smaller.

    They are so much easier to raise than parrots are.... so far anyway!!
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Good to hear, thanks for the follow up.

    I would suggest using honey water instead of sugar water whenever able, simply because refined white sugar feeds 'freeloaders' like bad bacteria, cancer, parasites, yeasts etc. But in a pinch either honey or sugar will do. Honey has vitamins, minerals, enzymes, electrolytes, antibiotics, protein and a lot more besides, whereas refined sugar is nutritionally very limited and is such a simplified product that it tends to serve pathogens more than the host organism since such freeloaders prefer pre-processed sugars.

    Best wishes with them. Sounds like you're doing very well.
     

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