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Egg Incubating and Assisted Hatching Stories

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Erka97, Apr 10, 2017.

  1. Erka97

    Erka97 Chirping

    Mar 30, 2017
    So I'm putting this up her mostly to share my experiences in hatching eggs and to compare with the experiences and methods of others. I also hope to provide evidence against the idea that any egg that is helped to hatch will definitely die in the near future, as I've seen that far too often in my research and can't help but think that it's caused quite a few needless deaths of various baby birds. I've been doing things with eggs since I was a child, from stealing duck eggs from bad duck moms -they'd just leave some good eggs in the nest once some babies were out- to trying to incubate chickens, a cockatiel, and a killdeer egg I found -the latter did not work, and I only in the last few years figured out how to successfully hatch chicken eggs. Most things here will start after that time, however from before much of what I remember is that my assisted hatch ducklings did no differently from any others, and I had absolutely no luck with the styrofoam form of incubators -Nicknamed mine "The Incubator of Death" since no matter what I put in it it'd be dead within a week of hatching if it did at all.-
    More recently I discovered that my hatch rates went from extremely low to very good when I did not add water to the incubators as instructed, except perhaps for hatching time.

    The Story of Ductor:
    A few years ago, I was given a large group of ducks to add to my flock by a neighbor of mine. I believe they were Muscovies, as they had odd fleshy areas around their faces, and they were mostly black and white or brown and white. I referred to them as "Florida ducks" as they are the breed I had seen wandering wild in Florida on visits to that state. Besides them, I also had a few peking ducks that had managed to avoid being eaten. Breeding season arrived, and one of the ducks decided to build her nest in the chicken shed, where our chickens are locked in at night to avoid predators and let out again in the mornings. She gathered up her eggs, over a dozen including the ones I'd find and add, and sat on them dutifully for about 28 days without incedent with the chickens. Over that time, I would check on the eggs while she was out feeding, numbering them and checking their growth.
    One morning, though, I opened the door to find a single duckling laying on the floor, out of the nest, cold and bleeding, but alive. I can only assume that the chickens saw the egg and decided to eat it -Those ones did have a bad habit of eating many of the eggs- but then were surprised and stopped when they found a duck rather than tasty yolk inside. Anyway, the baby duck was rushed into the house to be warmed and cared for, as I had noticed in addition to a few wounds it also had not absorbed its yolk sac, which had then been punctured by the chickens. I clamped off the yolk sac remains -I have a surgical kit because I am the unofficial vet for the chickens and ducks and even sometimes other animals on my farm- and removed them, then stopped the bleeding and held a tiny portion of the duck's intestine that had failed to go into its body along with the yolk in until it stayed, then sat her [later discovered to be a hen] in the incubator to recover with the occasional offerings of food and water since she was deprived of the usual yolk nutrition. To my surprise, she lived and did fine, while the other ducklings from her nest hatched and were soon eaten by the local wildlife [I really should have took in more of them]. She was known simply as "The Duck" for a while, which morphed into "The Ductor" or just Ductor as I had just gotten into watching Doctor Who, and she went with me everywhere as she loved to follow me and cried whenever I was out of sight. She grew well and soon became a beautiful white duck, apparently one of the peking's eggs that I had added to the nest, and with that she began spending her days outside with the other ducks, while I brought her in most nights.
    Her next round of misfortune came one night when I came home and went to get her, I could not find her in the smaller pond where she usually liked to stay. Worried, I went up to the bigger pond to look and heard splashing; It was her, struggling against being dragged under by some pond creature [probably a snapping turtle]. I jumped in and saved her, leaving behind my shoe and a good side chunk of her upper leg/side area. Yet again she was brought inside to be patched up, this time disinfected and bandaged -It was scary, I could see her muscles and one of the larger blood vessels of her leg-, then kept inside to heal. Again, she made a full recovery [Although during this time I also tripped over her, as she didn't seem to get that following means one stays BEHIND the human; the vet I took her to was greatly amused by her name and declared she was just bruised and would be fine in a few days, which she was.] Eventually her bandages were removed and she went back to spending her days out on the pond, and nights in her lovely blue sleeping bin in the house, away from predators.
    Over time, however, it got harder and harder to bring her in at night. It went from her waiting for us on the porch to go in, to us spending hours per night standing in the pond while trying to catch her. She had decided she would be staying outside with the big ducks now, and while it made me sad I allowed her to... She stayed around until winter, when all of my ducks slowly disappeared. I assume something ate them. Poor Ductor; she was easily the best, though not the most fortunate, duck I've had so far.

    In addition I've hatched a goose egg with a dent in in [collision with another egg 1 week before hatch, while being taken from a broody goose nest to avoid having the babies eaten by predators]. There was also a chicken egg I incubated that was discovered to have its brain growing on the outside of its skull -died around day 7-. I also had two hatch successfully out the wrong end of their eggs

    The story of Sponge:
    I recently got a new, big incubator, so of course I put a bunch of chicken eggs into it to see how it'd do. Fast forward to day 21, and most of the chicks had already hatched, with just a few left. About two had drowned in the shell.. Another one seemed still alive but did not seem to have pipped internally. I made a small hole over the air cell to see how it was doing and immediately noticed that no beak was visible, and what's more the blood vessels looked darkened -a sign of low oxygen. It was rescue time.. I slowly chipped away at the shell and membrane, letting air in while avoiding as many of the blood vessels as possible. The chick, later named Sponge, was in a rather twisted position with her face against the lower side of the shell. I cleared the membrane from around her face and she started breathing, even giving a few weak peeps. I uncurled her from the egg to keep her from sticking while her yolk absorbed, setting her on the closest solid object -a clean sponge- so she wouldn't fall into the slats of the shelf of my incubator. For the next few hours I could only watch as she lay on her sponge, breathing but doing nothing else. Her eyes were closed and she looked so sad that my mother thought she was dead at first and my brother's friend suggested I put her out of her misery. Meanwhile, her yolk absorbed and she rested, and within the next few days she was able to move around. While she stayed in the incubator turned chicken NICU, the other chicks were moved to my fish tank brooder, besides one which had spraddle legs and had to have a brace made of twist-ties for a day before joining the other in the brooder -it had been put in the brooder, but then had to be cooled with water since it had nearly overheated because it could not walk away from the lamp. Sponge's eyes finally opened, though she seemed to prefer to keep them closed against the light at first, but one of her legs was very weak so she would flip over on her back anytime she tried to walk. She had to be watched closely when she was given water because she would fall in. She could also barely eat on her own. Over the next days she strengthened and became rather attached to me, eventually joining the others in the brooder when I wasn't around to hold her. She stayed with them until they moved up to the outside brooder, around which time an unknown disease somehow got in, killing several of the chicks, and the remaining chicks, including Sponge, found a small hole in the brooder and escaped into the cold. I found and returned as many as I could, but Sponge was very cold as she was always the smallest chick. She could barely move and acted sick, so I brought her in and fed her a scrambled egg to add to her strength. I kept her in the incubator again for a few days until she got back to normal. She was then placed in with my pet cockatiel, Shadow, who quite likes chicks and doesn't mind living with random other birds too much, though he does like to steal their food. That is where she still lived, while she grew into a big, beautiful young hen. She's still in the cockatiel cage now, though now that it's warm out I plan to put her outside to hunt for food with the other chickens soon.

    The current things I'm incubation are three emu eggs and six chicken eggs, was seven but one died around day 10, all currently on day 11 of their development. The chickens are used for experiments, for example some of them were rolled over twice when turned -does not seem to damage them- or always turned the same way -didn't kill them either- and listened to with a pregnancy heart monitor every few days -no negative effects, but also I can't hear anything from them yet-. The latest experiment is the effect of cooling, since power was lost to my emu incubator for about 6-7 hours with temperatures falling to about 75 degrees F and I wanted to judge their survival chances; the chicken eggs were left out in my 68-70 degree F home for several hours today; one was returned to the incubator at around three hours and seems fine, another was returned at about four-five hours and seems fine, and a third was be placed back in at nine hours and also seems okay.
    While the chickens are more advanced and therefore it is assumed more hardy at 11 days than a emu egg is, they are also so much smaller with considerably thinner shells and therefore cool faster, so hopefully this will give me an idea of the damage done to my emus.

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