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First Attempt at Incubating Underway - UPDATE - Operation: Booties

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by mischievouschickens, Oct 26, 2009.

  1. mischievouschickens

    mischievouschickens Out Of The Brooder

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    So I am a complete newbie and making my first attempt at incubating and hatching our very chicks. We already have chicks (oldest is ~7 weeks old and youngest are 3 weeks old) but we would like our daughter to see "where chicks come from"!

    We set the incubator earlier last week to let it stabilize and put in 39 eggs yesterday. 17 are from kathyinmo (thank you again Kathy!) and 12 are fertile eggs from Trader Joe's. We've heard others being successful with TJ's eggs so we thought we'd give it a shot as well - anything to help increase our chances of something hatching 3 weeks from now. The TJ's eggs were 11 days old, laid on Calendar Day 286 - October 13 according to our calculations. Hopefully, not too old to still have a successful hatch. [​IMG] You can bet that we're going to learn a lot from this experience. Keeping a log of everything! [​IMG] By the way, kathyinmo originally sent 18 eggs, but after candling and upon closer examination, one was cracked. Unfortunately, we had to let it go before even started. [​IMG]

    We borrowed a Hovabator 1602 with automatic egg turner from a generous gal nearby (from a local chook group), picked a cheap hygrometer and thermometer (both now calibrated) from Petco. After reading many threads, we've decided on using the "dry incubation" method. Settings are currently 101-102 degrees F and humidity now on the high side of about 45. We had it at 35 to begin with but adding all those eggs must have upped the moisture level. We won't add more water until it drops to about 25 or so. From our testing last week, it took about a teaspoon of water to get it to rise from 25 to 35. We're using a funnel and straw to add water - no disturbing the eggs or opening up the bator necessary. Thanks for the neat ideas everyone!

    I even took apart an old PC power supply to remove the fan and tried to splice together wiring from an old AC transformer lying around, but that didn't work. Not sure why, but no matter, we're just going to move forward with a still-air bator. We'll candle the eggs again at about Day 7 and see what we've got. Exciting but fingernail-biting times here in this household. Wish us well!

    Now, if we could only get the coop finished, the chicks outside, and all this dust out of house![​IMG] If I can figure out how to post some pix (do they have to be links or can they be attached?), I'll do that too.

    (Why do chook owners only gush about their chicks, coops and setups but never mention the dust *everywhere* to newbies? It must be an inside joke. You can bet I'm not going to say anything to potential new chook lovers out there.[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2009
  2. mischievouschickens

    mischievouschickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 6, 2009
    OK, so I think I figured out how to post pictures now. Here goes nothing... please bear with me.

    Here is our first candling and picture taken - I don't know what breed egg it is (more on that later).

    [​IMG]

    Here is the cracked egg that was shipped to us from kathyinmo. We first notice the crack when we were candling. By the way, the post office absolutely manhandled the box. Kathy did an amazing job packing "my preciouses", had fragile stickers all over the place but to my amazement when I went to pick up the box, it was squashed on two sides - not to mention the person behind the counter brought it out from the back, banged it on the counter, flipped it over and banged it again to read the codes - absolutely stunning to see - in a bad way.[​IMG][​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here is the same egg under normal lighting

    [​IMG]

    Here are all the eggs from Kathy, temporarily in a spare egg carton. The cracked egg is in the second row from the bottom, leftmost egg. Such a shame, it was such a nice shaped, dark brown egg - quite a specimen. [​IMG] Kathy doesn't know what she sent me besides the 3 silkies, bottom row leftmost 3. However, in her flock she has RIR, BO, BSL, RSL, EE, PC and CM. I believe the pink one is an EE. (This is the first time we've even *seen* homegrown eggs, never mind handled them! It's so very exciting!) I don't know if any of the darker ones could be Cuckoo Marans, but that would be nice. The others? Well, if any of you can tell, please do tell.[​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here is the carton for the Trader Joe's eggs we picked up, with "born on date" and all

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Finally, all eggs in the bator - ready to rock and roll, literally (minus the rolling!). Come on chickies![​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Mrs Chickens

    Mrs Chickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 23, 2009
    Winterbourne
    Good luck - it so exicting when you do your first hatch - try not to fiddle with the eggs too much that my advice when it gets to day 21/ 22 go out so your not watching them every min.

    Cos if you are like me you will want to "help" witch isn't best after day 22 start looking but by that point you'll have some chick's.

    This by the way is soo addictive
     
  4. eggsrcool

    eggsrcool Sussex Fanatic

    Good luck!

    Sorry to hear about the cracked one, hope the others are all alright [​IMG]
    Please keep us updated [​IMG]

    One again, good luck [​IMG]

    eggsrcool [​IMG]
     
  5. kathyinmo

    kathyinmo Nothing In Moderation

    Oh Boy .... here we go! YAY! Just a note, remember this is a test for fertility hatch. I am pretty confident that they are all fertile, but there is always a chance someone got left out!

    Here's hopin' for a great hatch in 3 weeks! [​IMG] Have fun! [​IMG]
     
  6. mischievouschickens

    mischievouschickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:Mrs Chickens, thank you for the well wishes. I'm mentally preparing myself for those days ahead. In fact, I've already decided *not* to help any of them. I figure God is in control and He will allow those healthy enough to succeed. If any of them don't make it out, they weren't healthy enough to begin with - either because of their natural development or because of something we did wrong in preparing their environment - and probably won't survive anyway (I hope not the latter though).

    I agree with your advice during lockdown. We have friends visiting that weekend so it might be just the right opportunity to do some sightseeing and such. But, I may set up the video recorder over the bator and "observe them" later when we get home. That way we get to see and not miss anything minus all the angst! [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I hope it's not too addictive. We didn't purchase any of the incubation equipment thinking we would do this only once to show our daughter where our chicks come from. I imagine the owner would want it all back after 1 month has lapsed. If this is the start of something consistent, oh boy, we'll have to rethink our approach and reset our expectations! Better make room for that cabinet incubator... [​IMG]
     
  7. mischievouschickens

    mischievouschickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:Thank you, eggsrcool. Coming all the way from England too! [​IMG]

    Today is Day 4. So far no major temperature spikes. The thermostat holds the bator temp within +/- 1.5 degrees of my target range. I notice that it's colder during the cooler mornings and a little hotter when it gets warm in the afternoons and then stays pretty consistent throughout the evening. It probably cools off again during the wee hours of the night through dawn. [​IMG] <-- Yes, that's me, minus the coffee.

    The biggest surprise so far is how much moisture the eggs are giving off. When we were stabilizing the incubator for about 1 week, we could see measurable changes in the humidity levels over a span of a day or two. If I recall correctly, we started at 35 and perhaps over 2 days it would drop to 25 at which point I experimented with how much water to add to get it back to 35. A teaspoon seemed to be sufficient (maybe less). However, now with the eggs in there, we started off at 35 and on Day 1 the humidity immediately shot up to just under 50. Since then, now Day 4, it is still registering 43. Those eggs sure like to sweat (figuratively speaking).

    At this rate, I almost can't see having to put *any* additional water until Day 18. I even rigged the setup so that I could easily add water without having to open the bator or disturb the eggs. Well, I guess having an unexpected "contingency plan" is better than no plan at all.

    Hopefully, things stay this smooth all the way to the end. Murphy, go away and stay away. [​IMG]
     
  8. mischievouschickens

    mischievouschickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 6, 2009
    Quote:Thank you again, Kathy! You know, of course, all of this is because of your little 1000th post "stunt". [​IMG] We didn't have any intentions of trying our hands at incubating and hatching until we ran across one of your posts one day. Then, all of a sudden, a mad scramble for an incubator and "reasons" to justify this endeavor.

    The best reward will be for us to see the look on our daughter's face when the little peeps start coming out. [​IMG] Of course, we're also happy to report back to you on the fertility of your eggs. We'll candle them again on Day 7. Hopefully our untrained eyes can tell which might be clear and if any are veining. May they all be developing at that point - [​IMG]:weee

    We're already having so much fun - thanks to you! [​IMG]
     
  9. mischievouschickens

    mischievouschickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 6, 2009
    Today is Day 17. Lockdown is tomorrow. Finally! [​IMG]

    Candled for the second time on Day 15 (I know! We wanted to candle sooner - *so much sooner* - but due to various circumstances we didn't get to it until Day 15). As it turns out, *all* the supposedly "Fertile Trader Joe's" eggs did not develop. When candling, they all appeared clear with no evidence of any embryonic development or bacterial infection. They seemed to be infertile eggs from the get go. I cracked each open to see if I could identify a blastoderm dying off (see speckledhen's most useful thread: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=16008) but didn't see anything.

    We were quite disappointed as other BYCers have been successful hatching TJ's eggs. The funny thing is, we chose TJ's over Whole Foods because another BYCer had the same experience we just had with Whole Foods supposedly "fertile eggs" - *none* were fertile. Oh well. The point was to increase our odds of at least once chick hatching since this is our first time and we wanted to show our daughter where our chicks "come from".

    On to Kathy's eggs then.... Because we did not candle earlier, we could only look for infertile or quitter eggs. Thank God there seem to be many that are developing. Since they are mostly brown eggs, we could only see the air cell and a large dark mass in most of them. One even moved! [​IMG] Unfortunately, we didn't want to keep it out too long to get a video of it. The ones with dark masses (completely black) are difficult to tell whether the chick is developing normally or if the mass is a cloudy, muddled mess inside - hope not! [​IMG] We shall see in a few days time.

    Unfortunately, out of the 18 that Kathy originally sent, 1 nice darker brown egg was cracked on arrival (as already mentioned earlier in the thread), 1 silkie was infertile [​IMG], 1 large brown egg was also infertile and another large brown egg (breeds unknown) quit. There was evidence of a blood ring when we candled it. Here are some pictures:

    This is one of the clear ones:
    [​IMG]

    This is the suspected quitter:
    [​IMG]

    We cracked it open to verify our suspensions and sure enough, look what we found:
    [​IMG]

    You can see the blood ring as well as the small embryo developing.

    So, after much anticipation, we will lock down 14 eggs tomorrow night. Hopefully, all the dark masses turn out to be healthy and happy chicks. The ones that we could see better into look like they're developing well. We've got the routine down and ready - take eggs out of turner, put in shelf liner, put in egg cartons, replace eggs air cell side up, fill in the channels with a bit of water (target 65% humidity) and lock it all up. In 3 or 4 days time, hopefully we'll see little pips, zips and peeps scurrying around. [​IMG]

    Thank you everyone for all the well wishes. Please stay tuned....
     
  10. The Sheriff

    The Sheriff Overrun With Chickens

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    Jun 17, 2009
    Northern CA
    Good luck!
     

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