Fertile Egg (for hatching) storage and related questions

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by tiki chiki, Dec 2, 2015.

  1. tiki chiki

    tiki chiki Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi! I am interested in incubating some silkie eggs in the next week or so. We just lost our rooster (RIP Penguin) to a hawk 3 days ago and hope to hatch some little ones to help heal our hearts. We inherited a Hova Bator with the purchase of our house (styrofoam, no fan, probably from the 80's at least!) and a automatic turner so I don't have much detail on the working conditions of those but am testing them out today and they appear to function. The last owner never used the equipment so the youngest they could be is 20 years or so. I feel like we have a lot working against us- first hatch, hoping hen is still fertile, COLD temps (though have been seasonably high at 40-50 F in zone 6), full time work, old incubator???, last minute scramble etc. so while we hope for the best we are prepared for the worst. We'd love to be successful if we can but are staying realistic

    My questions:
    1. I've read that you should store eggs pointy end down in a carton, alternating which end is on a book, etc in order to turn them. We hope to collect the rest of the week before putting them in the incubator. My question is- can they be stored on the automatic turner which completes a cycle every 4 hours? Is this too much turning or will they lose too much moisture being out of a carton? This would alleviate the need to remember to turn then and risk damaging them. We both work full time (plus I am going away for the weekend) and I worry that we will keep up with the turning. I want to give them the best possible head start.

    2. There is no fan in the incubator, is this going to be an issue?

    3. Do we need to disinfect the incubator/eggs before putting them in there? I was going to use a bleach or apple cider mixture for the bottom of the incubator which has been in a box for the past 20 years so I'm thinking disease is less of an issue then dust.

    4. Is there any credence to a higher chance of hatching males in winter? or this an old wives tale? Don't mind 1 or 2 but don't want them to all be male if I can help it.

    3. Are we crazy embarking on a hatching endeavor in December!? They'd be stuck in the house for a while before they could go outside with the big girls.

    Any and all feedback most welcome!
     
  2. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchaholic Extrordinaire Premium Member

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    Sorrry you lost your rooster :hugs I'll try to answer your questions for you.

    1. That would be fine - a lot of people actually store their eggs that way :)

    2. Not an issue, that just means it's a still air instead of a forced air, which means you just keep your temps a little different - instead of 99.5 degrees measured anywhere in the incubator, which is what you would shoot for in a forced air, you want to have your temperature at 101.5 degrees measured at the top of the eggs. If this worries you, it's fairly easy to put an old computer fan in your incubator and make it a forced air incubator.

    3. You might want to. Bacteria in the incubator can contaminate eggs and cause them to die in development, or lead to a yolk sac infection after hatch. With the incubator being over 20 years old and having sat for so long, it wouldn't be a bad idea to spruce it up a bit.

    4. Not that I've ever noticed. In fact, studies have shown that male embryos are less able to survive lower temperatures, leading to higher hatch rates of pullets when eggs that have been refrigerated are hatched - you have a lower hatch rate than you would normally, of course, since embryos died, but the ones that survived are more likely to be female. So if anything I would think you'd have the opposite result.

    5. Nope! You go right ahead and hatch now if you want. In fact, the big New Year's Day hatchalong is gearing up to start, and the set date for that is December 11th. If you're okay with them being in the house there's no reason not to hatch.

    Some other information you didn't ask about but might be useful - a hen can stay fertile for up to three weeks after a rooster is gone, but of course her fertility declines over time so the sooner the eggs are collected after the rooster is gone, the better. Also, hatching eggs are viable for about 10 days after they are laid - after that, the chances of them developing when set decrease, so the sooner you can get them in the incubator, the better.
     
  3. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

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  4. tiki chiki

    tiki chiki Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 21, 2015
    Thank You Pyxis and nchls school for your help! You helped ease some of my concerns for sure! I just saw the New Year Hatchalong and depending on how things go may join in on the fun. Thanks for mentioning it!

    The equip seems to be in good working order and I hope to add a thermometer/hydrometer tomorrow so I can tweak anything over the next couple of days. I'll keep the forced air vs still air temperatures in mind.

    My follow-up questions are:

    1. Should I start with a dry incubation (ie no water in the wells) and change to higher humidity following candleing to check air sac size?

    2. Is it possible to start incubating some eggs this week and throw a couple more in next week after "they're cooking"? Obviously other than hatch dates being off, is there a concern here? Between Mugatu's (the only silkie hen) fertility dropping by the day and the currently collected embryos aging... I don't want to wait too long to have enough to start with but I don't want to only have 3 since she only lays every other day or so.

    Any other tips? I gave the girls come cabbage (which they scoffed at) and some black oil sunflower seeds coated in cultured buttermilk today (which they loved!) as a treat/nutri boost for Mugatu. I get flack about the yogurt/dairy thing from the bf but they like it and I try to "naturally" -ok I know chickens aren't mammals- keep their guts healthy. I believe a healthy gut is important.

    Thanks again!
     
  5. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchaholic Extrordinaire Premium Member

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    Glad to help!

    1. That'll depend on how the air cell looks - you could start with dry incubation and if they've lost too much moisture correct for it when you candle. An even more accurate way to keep track, if you want to be really on top of it, is to weigh the eggs and track weight loss. An egg should lose 15% of its weight over incubation.

    2. You could - the only trouble will be with lockdown and hatching. If you start eggs a week later then when the first batch goes into lockdown, you will have to stop turning the new eggs and boost the humidity which could hinder their proper air cell development. I won't say it's impossible though - I just did my last two hatches like that when my hatcher was suddenly out of commission.

    Good nutrition is important to ensure the hens are laying healthy eggs, so you're definitely on the right track there.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2015
  6. Eliza1313

    Eliza1313 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a friend that does staggered hatches in the same incubator, so you should be fine on that. They don't use an auto-turner though.

    From my own experience (currently running first incubation) I would say you could do it by removing the auto-turner, then not turning the eggs due to hatch while hand turning the others. I think the biggest factor would be your ambient humidity. Putting a divider in (not touching the heat source) and using a dish with sponge for the hatching side might keep the humidity (and temp) good for both sides.

    Good luck, hope you have a successful hatch.
     
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    After reading through all of the advice you've received, I don't have a lot to add, but... have just a couple of additions! Pyxis advised sterilizing the bator before you use it. Good. But you also asked about sterilizing the eggs. They should be fine just as they are coming out of the nest, unless they are covered in filth. You don't want to wash the bloom off them. I'd advise that you get that bator sterilized, then get it running, and put some water bottles in it equal to the volume of the eggs that you will be setting. How many eggs are you likely to be able to collect from your girls in a week? If that's not enough to give you a dozen or so eggs to work with, you may search your area to see if any one local has some fertile eggs you could add. I think there are some hatchers who do put their eggs in turners before putting the eggs in the incubator. Just realize that when the turner goes in the bator, the turner motor will boost the temp, as will the metabolic activity of the chicklets as they start to grow. You have some time, so you could sterilize, then put the turner in and run it for a day or two and get the temp settled with the turner in place. Then you could take the turner out, and put your hatching eggs in the turner, while leaving the bator, running but empty except for the bottles of water. You may see the bator temp go down a bit, which is ok. When it's time to set your eggs, you'll know that the bator has been functioning well, and that the temp is holding steady. If you have plenty of room, you may want to keep the eggs away from the motor.

    Other things to consider: Be sure your thermometer is calibrated. Also, you'll want to have a calibrated hygrometer. Dry incubation is not actually totally dry. But it works very well, and I highly recommend it. Your goal would be to keep the humidity at 30 - 40% through days 1 - 18, while monitoring your aircells. Then, at lock down, you will want to boost your humidity to 60 - 70%. I recommend that you read "Hatching Eggs 101" in the learning center. It will answer many questions you didn't even know you had! And it will leave you well equipped to have a successful first hatch.

    Then, check out this article: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yes-you-certainly-can-brood-chicks-outdoors

    And this thread: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/956958/mama-heating-pad-in-the-brooder-picture-heavy-update

    Happy hatching. You'll be just in time to join the NYD HAL which is coming right up.
     
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  8. tiki chiki

    tiki chiki Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 21, 2015
    Thank you all for your input! Quality tips and tricks all around :) I just put the eggs in today, ambient humidity (running dry) is 30 right now so I'll keep an eye on that, I experimented with putting water in the one well before adding eggs (to test humidity increase) as recommended by the manufacturer and it sky rocketed to almost 70% so now I know for the future that I'll likely only need the one well filled . There are only 5 eggs (hoping for 2-3 chicks but 5 isn't TOO nuts if they do all hatch) but my silkie hen looks like she may be starting to go broody so I decided to split the odds and let her incubate whatever eggs she lays from here on out. I know its cold out and that success may be unlikely with the outdoor natural incubation but I decided to "not put all my eggs in one basket" so to speak. Because she is only beginning to go broody I didn't want to risk these eggs getting chilled. Thanks again, and I guess I'm a little early for the New Year's hatchalong but I'll be there in spirit!
     
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    If you're gonna let your silky brood some eggs, you might want to take her eggs every day for a week, then give them all back to her on the same day. (that is, if she is still laying.)
     
  10. Bryam

    Bryam Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Best of luck! I am currently collecting eggs from one girl too! I am hoping to get 6 eggs and then start incubating!!! The eggs are good for a solid 10 days, better to set them all at once, then you will find out if they are even fertile!

    Hatching eggs is fun!!

    So enjoy the experience!
     

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