Dry incubation guinea eggs, a cautionary tale

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by Victoria-nola, Jun 29, 2016.

  1. Victoria-nola

    Victoria-nola Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [Photo shows some of the keets outside the Mama-Heating-Pad, the others are tucked under. The keet in front is "#1", she was running toward me when I snapped this. The water has chick electrolytes and probiotics in it.]

    Just wanted to pass along my experience. This was just my second hatching ever-- first was chickens earlier this spring from my own chickens. These eggs were shipped guinea fowl eggs, I got the pearl type because I wanted them as close to wild as possible. Had been convinced about the "dry incubation" method, so did that. I added some water to incubator at first, but at first candling 10 days I felt worried about air cell development not being enough so let it dry up. At times the humidity went as low as 20%. Midday on day 23 and 4 eggs were pipped, so took out egg turner and brought up humidity to 75-85%.

    Day 24 at 8am, 1 keet already hatched overnight, another egg trying to zip but zip patchy, outer membrane very white and dried out looking. Didn't want to dive in but by 4:45 decided to help-- keet was shrinkwrapped but still barely breathing and I felt I should have intervened earlier, nevertheless yolk fully absorbed and chick did great. By 5pm there were 8 chicks hatched.

    At 6:45pm I realized that there were a number of problematic zips with dried-out outer membranes. I realized then that the dry incubation had been way too dry and that it was looking like no other chicks would hatch unless I took action. I lightly tapped on each one and got a response, sometimes extremely weak. By 9pm I had helped 17 more eggs hatch, and 1 more hatched on her own. All of the eggs I helped were shrink wrapped with the inner membrane dried and stuck down. Most of them unfolded in my hands but I placed all back in the incubator in the remainder of the egg. A few of them needed more time to rest and absorb their yolk and I went to bed unsure if some would perish. 6 eggs had no pips and I candled, no viability indicated but they are still in the incubator.

    Day 25 at 8am. All 26 keets survived overnight, all the keets I helped (18 total) are doing fine. All are moved to the brooder on porch with a Mama-Heating-Pad. The keets are pretty friendly to me, which I understand is not typical. One keet, the first hatched, wound up with spraddle-leg which I treated with vet-wrap-- now "Number 1" comes to me whenever I approach the brooder and wants to get in my hands. Her legs are doing great but I think I'll leave a band of vetwrap on one leg so I know which one she is. I gave all keets a drop of polyvisol children's vitamins.

    I just want folks to know to be really careful with the dry incubation method. I think it's awfully easy to wind up over-drying the eggs, especially with early pips, but I believe that the drying out was a result of low-humidity throughout, since so many eggs, even those that pipped well after I raised the humidity to high levels, were shrink-wrapping. I also want to say that some people feel it's "unnatural" to attempt to help an egg, but mechanical incubation is in no way "natural" to start with. I waited as long as I could to make sure I wasn't interfering, but in fact every single one of those 18 keets would have perished unnecessarily if I hadn't intervened, and the reason was purely my own fault so the onus was on me.

    Live and learn!

    P.S. I surely hope I won't be incubating keets again and that these 26 will form a flock that will reproduce of their own accord.
     
  2. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Overrun With Chickens

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    Dry incubation hasn't worked for me either. My first few hatches I was around 30% and had a lot of trouble at hatch. I would have to assist almost all of them. In this hatch I raised it up to around 40%. Out of 21 eggs I have one late quitter but 20 good hatches. Oddly I did not raise the humidity as high at lockdown. Before I was doing 70%, this time I kept it at 55% and of course it would spike up with each hatch. I remove each keet and broken eggshell as they become active and that wasn't a problem.
     
  3. charid

    charid Out Of The Brooder

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    My humidity was high from beginning to end 60-72% and I had no problems. I read on a different site to kerp it at 55-65% until lockdown. Then keep it at 65-75%. Babies dried out within a day despite the humidity. I will never do low humidity hatches, doesnt make sense to me.
     
  4. Victoria-nola

    Victoria-nola Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for this validation that yes I'm correct, it doesn't work. I now suspect that my first batch of chicken eggs might have had a much higher result if I'd realized they needed help so universally.

    I find it interesting that you remove each keet and eggshell between hatches. The advice is always to leave them in the incubator. My first (chicken) hatch I had physical problems (other than low humidity, because of poor advice received) and wound up removing each chick separately. This hatch, the guineas, I left them in the incubator. That meant the first to hatch was in there for almost 2 days. She developed spraddle-leg and I pulled the first 6 hatches out and placed them in the brooder. I'm certain it was because of the slick surface of the incubator-- I had it lined with paper towels but after so much traffic and moisture it got slick and the chick in there the longest wound up with the problems as if I had newspaper in there. I was able to successfully treat the chick using vet-wrap and "Number 1" is the leader of the keets, it's so charming (I left a little legband of the wrap to identify) how they follow her/his lead.

    Anyway point being, I really enjoy hearing from folks who are doing things differently than the standard advice and being successful, because leaving the chicks in the incubator (especially with a large hatch) just seems counterintuitive to me.

    Thanks again.
     
  5. Victoria-nola

    Victoria-nola Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I thought it made sense until I saw what can happen! I hope that I don't do another incubation of guineas and that they self-reproduce, but expect to do more chicken incubations and am glad to be learning so much before I try again. Thank you for replying, it's very helpful.
     
  6. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Overrun With Chickens

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    I use rubber shelf liner in the hatcher. I toss it in the washing machine and it's good for the next hatch.

    I don't see any need to make them stay in after they are up and walking, though I do usually wait until I at least have two so they can keep each other company. Then again, I am also relatively hands on. I keep a small dry erase board next to the hatcher and each egg is numbered at lockdown. I candle each egg a couple times a day so I can keep track of who's internally pipped, then externally pipped and so on. This lets me know sooner if someone is distressed, malpositioned, etc. No, a guinea mom would not do any of that but the whole process is unnatural and I think we have more invested (plus a higher capability) to make sure each has the best chance at hatching.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
  7. Victoria-nola

    Victoria-nola Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for this. While I agree that the function of that shelf liner seems great, I'm just not a fan of vinyl (PVC) or I would use it. Yes, I agree that waiting until there is 2 is a great idea and intuitively did that myself.

    Wow your process is fascinating! I have numbered the eggs and in the case of the chicken hatch that yielded super interesting information since I can identify the mother hen in several cases. In the case of the guinea hatch, they all look alike so I have no idea who is who except for the two I had to treat for spraddle and have leg bands now. But yes, I see that your very methodical style would be useful instead of the chaos I was experiencing when 18 eggs needed help.

    But let me ask you, what is your process for candling during lockdown? Do you take the eggs out in batches to avoid as many openings of the incubator, or what? I always do them in 6-egg batches anyway. With the guinea eggs that were shipped, I always kept the eggs pointed side down for all candling (turned the candler on top the egg for viewing) and would probably continue that into future for nonshipped eggs. Question is, do you worry about excessive handling in those last few days? Obviously you're successful, but just wondering how you manage the details.
     
  8. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Overrun With Chickens

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    Generally, what I do is I candle on day 24 as I prepare them for lockdown, numbering them and noting which have internally pipped (they tend to hatch day 25 and 26). The next morning I candle any that had not internally pipped and mark down any changes. I check the eggs one at a time, right by the incubator and it doesn't seem to affect my temperatures right. If I was still using the Little Giant I had for a brief moment I wouldn't be able to do that because every time you cracked that thing open an inch it would take two days to come back up to temp. My hatcher is the Farm Innovators 2450 and it holds temp pretty well. It helps that I have a very bright light (a headlamp with three brightness settings) so as long as I have the blinds closed I can see into the egg, even my Marans. I always candle fat side up, maybe not perfectly vertical but never upside down. It isn't a rule, just not what I do since I can see just as well big side up and try to not jostle the eggs around too much. I would say it takes maybe 10 seconds per egg to candle them, from the time I crack the lid to the time I put the egg back. So far it hasn't been a problem.

    Regarding the PVC, I understand your concerns. One thing I hate about my house is the vinyl siding. If the CO or heat of a fire doesn't kill me I'm sure the burning PVC from the siding, electrical insulation, windows, plumbing, and so on, will. As long as I can keep the incubator under 140 degrees though, the shelf liner in the incubator should remain stable and safe, plus the previous owners left it behind so it was already sitting in my pantry not being used.
     
  9. Victoria-nola

    Victoria-nola Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well I've got a HovaBator styrofoam model and it doesn't take 2 days to return to temps, that's for sure, but still. I really appreciate your sharing this info with me. You're right about the shelf liner of course. Thank you so much.
     
  10. BantyChooks

    BantyChooks Go Habs Go Premium Member

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    Very interesting!
     

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