First time incubating....need help!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by brandymckay, Oct 22, 2014.

  1. brandymckay

    brandymckay Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2014
    Here's my problem: we tried to let our hens incubate the eggs themselves for quite a while, but I'm not sure how long. They only seemed to sit on them at night so we got an incubator. All the eggs had only a yolk at that point and not knowing any better I didn't mark the dates or anything. They all seemed to be developing properly based on the candling photos I've seen. At this point the oldest ones (the ones in question) show very little when candled. They're pretty much black (I suppose it's the baby) and I can clearly see a well defined air sack. In the best egg I can see feet and wings but that's about it. I've read in other forums to look for movement, which I saw about a week ago but not since. I read to hold to your ear and tap to hear peeping, no luck. I see no blood or anything so I guess that's a plus, but I'm fully lost at this point. I don't know if I should continue checking or leave them alone, or whether I should accept that they may have recently expired. Can someone with some experience help me out? I really hope they're okay. P.S. I know they've been in the incubator at least since 10/1, but it was a few days before that even
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2014
  2. Mulberry

    Mulberry Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi, I hope it's will help: first of all DONT PANICK! The best thing is leave them alone now lett Mother Nature do her job.....
    Ok give your self a estimated hatching day It's 21 days from the day you think you put them in to the incubator. Check temparetura 37.5 humidity 45-55% And on the 18 days 65-70%
    As you don't know the exact date I would put humidity up on the 14 days up to 55% 16 day 60%
    18 day 65%
    So like this you give them chance to survive. However becose your " lousy hens" maybe non of them is alive you see they are extremely sensitive to temperature changes.

    The best you can do is wait maybe with some luck you get some chiks.

    FOR NEXT TIME
    Make sure your hens are broody..... She will not leave her eggs only for short period of times
    Read about broody hens, you also need a quiet place with a nesting box
     
  3. brandymckay

    brandymckay Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2014
    I'm wondering if my boxer pup may be why the chickens didn't lay on the eggs as much. They love to play together (weird to me). Starting on the 1st of October I've been very diligent in taking all the eggs out ASAP. hopefully since they've (the early ones) developed well up to this point they'll do okay. Fingers crossed! Thanks for your quick response!
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    It’s hard to know what was going on with yours without being there. It sounds more like they may be sleeping in the nests rather than being broody. When a hen is broody she stays on the nest day and night, only coming off once or twice a day, maybe 15 minutes to about an hour each time to eat, drink, and poop. If yours are sleeping in the nests but not staying there during the day, they are not broody. But I can only guess.

    If they are sleeping in the nests you need to break them of that habit. If that is what is going in come back and we can help you with that.

    It’s also possible the hen was just taking her daily food and drink break and you thought she was not on the eggs at all during the day. If that is the case the eggs could be doing great. They can be off for an hour or more at a time without problems. If you have eggs close to hatching after only ten days of incubating then yourself this is probably what happened but not knowing how long they have been in the incubator or if some of the eggs were started earlier by a hen really makes it harder.

    It also sounds like you may have been adding new eggs to the incubator after you started. Don’t do that at least until you’ve incubated a few times and have a good handle on what you are doing. That leads to a staggered hatch instead of all the eggs hatching together. Some people do that on purpose but they generally are set up to handle that.

    Next time you have a hen go broody or use the incubator collect all the fresh eggs you want to hatch and mark them, then start them all at the same time. Then check under the broody daily to remove any eggs that don’t belong. That way they should all hatch at the same time. I don’t write the date on my individual eggs, I write on the calendar when I start them, whether under a broody or in an incubator. That way you know how to handle turning and the humidity levels in the incubator. If a broody is hatching I leave all that up to her but I know when to expect the hatch.

    But to your immediate problem. Eggs that are solid black except for the air cell are getting fairly close to hatch. Don’t pay too much attention too people that tell you all the stuff you should be seeing. If you can see inside great but some eggs are just really hard to see inside, especially dark brown or the blue or green ones. Our candling techniques and equipment are different too. With some of mine about all I can see when I candle is that solid mass and the air cell. It sounds like you could get some eggs to hatch. I sure hope so.

    The eggs need to be turned during the early part of the incubation but that becomes less important late in incubation. By two weeks the eggs don’t need to be turned at all. Turning helps the body parts form in the right spots and keeps the yolk or developing chick from touching the inside of the shell where it can dry out. By two weeks the body parts have formed and a membrane has developed around the chick to keep it from drying out when it touches the inside of the shell. It won’t hurt to keep turning them but it is not necessary. It’s traditional to keep turning them until Day 18 when we increase the humidity.

    While they are developing the egg needs to lose a certain amount of moisture but not too much. During hatch the moisture needs to be increased so that membrane doesn’t dry out and wrap around the chick so it can’t move. You don’t need to be real precise with these humidities but you need to be in the general ballpark. We normally increase the humidity after 18 days of development. That’s because some eggs can hatch that much early. The humidity needs to be increased when the hatch starts and the egg pips. Without knowing how far along yours are it’s real hard to make any suggestions about turning or the humidity.

    With what I know about yours I think I’d keep turning them until I see some signs of hatching. That sign might be a chirping sound from an egg, especially when you tap on the incubator or make some noise. It might be a pip. That’s where you see a crack in the egg shell. At the first sign of hatching I’d stop turning, increase the humidity to maybe 65%, and do not open the incubator to let that increased humidity out until the chicks hatch.

    After they hatch chicks can go three days without eating or drinking. That’s why they can be shipped in the mail. You don’t have to open the incubator for three days. If all your eggs started at the same time, you just wait until the hatch is over and take the chicks out. If you have a staggered hatch you need to take the first ones out that hatch at some point and keep the humidity up and hope for the later ones.

    It sounds like you’ve got a mess for this hatch. You are not alone. A lot of people go through this type of stuff their first hatch and often they get chicks. Those chicks can be real tough. And your next hatch, whether under a broody or in an incubator, will go a lot smoother. Good luck with this hatch.
     
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  5. brandymckay

    brandymckay Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2014
    Yeah my silly hens are laying eggs in the boxes and sleeping there, nothing else. So I shouldn't do a "staggered hatch?" What do people normally do with the eggs laid after the first group are added to the incubator? Mine (3 hens, 2 roosters) seem to lay 1 MAYBE 2 a day (total). We originally thought that it was normal for them to only lay on the eggs at night because the weather was warmer, but then it got cold and we knew something wasn't right. They were added to the incubator (the 1st batch) a few days before October 1st. They didn't appear to be developing for a while, but then seemed to progress on schedule for the most part, except the timing was off. For example: how they looked at incubation day 10 looked like online pics of development day 4, etc. However like you said they look mostly black with an air sac now, except for the one I can see really well into that I can clearly see feet and wings (so exciting!). Initially these were Easter peeps for my children that we were to just collect eggs to eat from, but after requesting all females and getting a couple roosters, well, plans changed. We were fully unprepared and in the dark and I suppose we thought it would be easier. So silly of us, I know. So, that leaves me with 3 extra questions (lol): how to handle the eggs to prevent a scattered hatch, how to get my girlies to use the nesting box properly, and will they lay/incubate their own eggs in winter or will it be too cold for them to keep them warm enough? Trust me, I'll be buying books and doing much more research along the way! Thank you for all the help!
     
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Unless you're willing to dispose of the later eggs before they hatch, there's not much you can do now to prevent a staggered hatch. If you do some looking, you'll find some threads on how others manage their staggered hatches. If they're only a few days apart, I think that would be easier than if you were adding them a week or more later. If this is your hens's first season of laying, they will lay throughout the winter. They will most likely not try to hatch, though. Most hens usually wait until spring before going broody. And you will know it if you get a broody! She will flatten out on the eggs, growl at you, and peck at you if you ignore her growling and try to reach under her in the first place. Broodies are also known for giving the "Stink-eye" when you bother them (and by "bother" I mean going anywhere near their nest). Good luck with your eggs! It will be fun to know how many you get to hatch!
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Chickens normally like to roost in the highest place they can get to. Not always but certainly almost always. So the most important step to stop them from sleeping in the nests is to make sure the roosts are noticeably higher than the nests. One foot difference should be enough.

    Chickens are creatures of habit. If they are used to sleeping in the nests, they may keep doing it even if you raise the roosts or lower the nests. If that is the case, go out after dark and move them to the roosts. If it is dark enough in the coop they should stay there. After a few nights of doing that they should catch on. Another option is to block the nests off after they have laid for the day and force them to go somewhere else. If you do that, you’ll need to be out there pretty early to open the nests so they can lay in there. You don’t want to teach them to lay somewhere else.

    Sometimes some of the hens sleep in the nests and some sleep on the roosts. What that often means is that the ones on the roosts are brutes and bullies to the weaker ones. The weak ones get beat up when they try to sleep on the roosts so they look for a safer place to sleep. That’s the nests. The way to handle that is to put up more roosts so they have a safe place to go that is not your nests. I put a separate roost about a foot lower than my main roosts, about a foot higher than my nests, and separated from the main roosts by a few feet. When I integrate young chickens they use that separate roost instead of my nests for a safe place to go.

    Eggs do not have to be incubated the day they are laid. Collect the eggs and store them until you have all the eggs you want them to hatch, then start them all at the same time. Store the eggs in a carton pointy side down. The eggs need to stay a constant temperature and cool is better than warm, but don’t refrigerate them. That’s a little too cool. Just find the best place you can and that’s the best you can do. If you store them more than a week they need to be turned a few times each day but if you store them less than a week you don’t even need to do that. I take the turner out of my incubator, plug it in, and store them in that. It doesn’t hurt to turn them, it’s just that you don’t have to the first week of storage.

    You can never tell when or even if a hen will go broody. Mine tend to do that late spring or sometime in the summer if they go broody at all. As Bobbi said it is pretty normal for pullets to lay through their first winter and put off their first adult molt until the following fall. Not all do that but a lot do. It’s harder on the hen in the winter if she goes broody because the margin for error is smaller, but if a hen goes broody in the winter she will often do quite well with the eggs and chicks. When she takes her daily break for food and water she does not stay off the nest very long.
     
  8. brandymckay

    brandymckay Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2014
    [​IMG] I don't know if my pic is posting here but I have activity within the last 12 hours or so....but I think it's bad. The egg is cracking for sure but what looks to be a yellow goo is coming out. Can't see anything else. This egg for sure looked viable 2 days ago but I'm thinking it's not anymore. I really hope the picture comes up because I need to protect the rest if the eggs if it's bad an keep a close eye if it's good. Although I'm very heavy - hearted because I really think this is a bad thing and for it being the first egg to have any openings at all was to be a happy occasion and I'm highly doubting it right now.
     
  9. brandymckay

    brandymckay Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2014
    The more I see it the worse it looks. Just the picture I mean, not the egg itself. Sad. This is bad, right?
     
  10. brandymckay

    brandymckay Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2014
    I have a feeling any goo like this is a bad goo....
     

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