First Time Incubator, The day 20 Jitters

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Cockalorum, Feb 28, 2016.

  1. Cockalorum

    Cockalorum Out Of The Brooder

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    Greetings All,

    I think I need a little sanity check about now. I (We) are about one year into "Project Chicken" and have really come to love the new hobby. We currently have a mixed flock of 8 hens and 2 roosters (yeah, that's too many for 8 hens I hear, but so far it's working I think). The daughter and a friend wanted to hatch some eggs for the science fair, and as I was wanting to expand the operation, I agreed. We really like the variety in our flock so far and figured we would add even more variety. The initial plan was to add 12 chicks per year and cull the older ones at year 4 (or when production declined). The coop was sized for this.

    Well I guess even the best laid plans need adjustment now and then, and maybe I went a little crazy at egg ordering time. We are now at day 20 of the incubation cycle and there are 39 little orbs waiting to surprise us. I justified 39 to myself figuring there must be a high mortality rate. After candling I figure we are at 35 viable on day 20. The girls have done a pretty good job with data and the needed "science stuff", so I figured I would let them stay home Monday to watch the "miracle".

    Last night one of them started to hatch, by around noon it was out, dry and in the brooding box. There has been very little activity in the other eggs. One or two are showing some movement and there is one other that the chick has started to "unzip(?)". At what time do I start to worry? Is it normal to have one this far ahead of the rest? Is there a way to validate viability? How long should I expect this to last, or when will I know there will be no more hatching?

    I think we did a good job with temperature and humidity. I do not think we had any significant spikes in temperature or humidity. We now increased humidity to 65%-70% for the last push. Here are some specifics that might prove helpful to those who have traveled this road before. The eggs we started with were quite the smorgasbord. Eggs 1-12 were two breeds from one hatchery, 13-18 were home grown, and 19-39 were from another hatchery, consisting of at least 6 different breeds. Egg sizes varied from 46 grams to 78 grams. The hatcheries insisted the eggs were fresh, but as they came from different sources, one batch was about 5 days longer into the incubator. Our home growns were only 1 or maybe 2 days to the incubator.

    Does anybody have any idea what to expect next? Taking a single chick to the science fair might be a little embarrassing. Could one be that much further along than the rest in the hatching process? I have been using this website for information for several months now and am anxiously looking forward to hearing of others experiences.

    The next step will be trying to determine sexes, but I'll do a little reading before appealing for help again.
     
  2. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

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    Ok, [​IMG] and [​IMG]chicken math!!!!!! So let me see if I am hearing you right? You are doing a staggered hatch and the first eggs are on lockdown and you have one chick out and one zipping? The first ones that are on lockdown are 5 days ahead...and here's where I get confused with your wording...sorry...one batch was 5 days longer into the incubation and homes grown were 1 or 2 days before what?

    And feel free to ask as you get questions. Many of us here love to help.
     
  3. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

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    Now that I have the questions out, let me address early hatchers. If you have a hatch that is hatching out early it points to temps in the bator being slightly higher than the ideal. If you have an odd chick or two hatching early and they aren't bantams or rather small eggs, it could be that the eggs were in a "warm spot" in the incubator that caused excellerated growth.

    Shipped eggs have a much lower (on average) successful hatch rate, so don't be surprised if your home eggs fair better than the shipped.

    A chick can go from pip to zip in a matter of a few hours or they can take 24 hours to progress. However, once a chick starts the zip, it should NOT take them that long to finish and hatch out. Mine are usually out w/in 15 minutes after starting the zip. I would become concerned if a chick was taking more than a half hour to complete a zip and I would be investigating and assisting at that point. Usually a hatch will finish out within 48 hours from the first hatcher, but if you have a stray early hatcher and the rest are more on time, I would wait until you have no action-no more pips and then candle for life and make a decision based on your findings. If by the end of day 22 the majority of your eggs have not hatched, I would candle and decide.

    What kind of incubator are you using and what were you running humidity for the first 17 days?
     
  4. Cockalorum

    Cockalorum Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 25, 2016
    No, after re-reading I see I was a little confusing. I started all 39 in the incubator at the same time. Lockdown started a couple of days ago for all. I was referring to the fact I sourced eggs from multiple places, and the freshness was in question for some, due to the fact they arrived on different dates. My question was if the time difference from laying to incubator might explain why they are not all hatching at the same time. With a 39 egg sample, what would the expected difference from first to last egg hatched be? And is it normal for one to be 18 hours ahead of the others? The only one hatched so far was one of our home growns and was know to be very fresh.

    Update: I am seeing some movement in other eggs. Eggs from each source are starting to move. How long from noticeable movement till I can expect to see pecking at the shell?
     
  5. Cockalorum

    Cockalorum Out Of The Brooder

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    You guys on this site are awesome! It is very comforting to have experts willing to help with the stupid rookie questions.

    My incubator is a "Farm Innovations 4250", it is a forced, or convection air model with an egg turner. I was able to keep the humidity between 40% and 48% for the first 18 days. I set a glass thermometer on the egg turner and noticed it was registering a little less than 2 deg. cooler than the included thermocouple device, so I set the incubator at 100.5 degrees. The incubator was placed in a location not susceptible to temperature variation and I am fairly certain there were no severe spikes in either temp or humidity.

    Clarification: Is a "Pip" is the initial hole poked in the shell and a "Zip" is the linear removal of the shell from the Pip?

    Thanks for the replies.
     
  6. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

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    Whew. Ok that makes a BIG difference. Time of laying shouldn't much afftect hatch time, but the older the egg the less the hatchability if that makes sense. An egg laid earlier will not hatch earlier as incubation doesn't start until they have the temps to start them, but freshness can affect their ability to hatch. Eggs less than 10 days are going to have the best hatchability, eggs older than two weeks are going to have a lower hatch rate.

    My last hatch I had an egg pip (very late) day 18. It didn't hatch till day 19 and all but 3 of my eggs pipped and hatched days 19/20 with the last three making their entrance early day 21. There was under 48 hours between first and last technically if you actually count hours. The majority hatched out in 24 hours though.

    It's not a rarity, especially if you have warm and cold spots in the bator and you don't rotate during incubation. I seldom see much movement before I see the pips. Do you have the air cells marked and placed where you can see where they should pip?
     
  7. JadedPhoenix

    JadedPhoenix Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm not surprised that your home grown eggs have done better up to this point since as it was pointed out they do better as a whole since the air cells don't have as much chance to be disrupted. When you got your shipped eggs, did you let the cells rest before popping them into the bator? As for differences in hatching, I have had some hatch on day 25 so I'd keep the other eggs in the bator for a few extra days and no, it isn't unusual there to be some that are more advanced than others. Hatching can take quite a while at times. As one other said, they usually have them hatch out quickly while I've had some that were much slower. My oldest hen was one that took two days from external pip to zip. She is also my strongest hen now even at three years. Give yours another day or two. You'll be fine.
     
  8. JadedPhoenix

    JadedPhoenix Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As for your question of time of lay, the viability of the eggs do go down every day that they go without incubation so yes, your home growns have a much better chance of hatching since they are fresher. The roughness of the handling as well can affect viability. Anyway, good luck.
     
  9. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

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    Yeah the thermometers with the bators, especially the cheaper styros are often off. First rule and one of the most important one: never trust a thermometer or hygrometer unless it's been checked. Even a brand new one. I lost my very first hatch to a brand new thermometer I didn't check that was 6 degrees off. I never incubate now with less than 2 thermometers that are w/in tenths of each other.

    Most of us aren't experts, (though some of us like to pretend and give off that vibe. [​IMG]) lol But most of us like to share our experiences and what works for us. For example, if you find that the chicks that are hatching seem to be excessively wet or you have a lot of DIS chicks that are fully formed but failed to hatch, you might want to consider running a bit lower for humidity during the first 17 days. The styro bators especially seem to fair better (if you aren't in a high elevation) with a low humidity incubation method and air cell monitoring. If you are interested take a look here: http://letsraisechickens.weebly.com...anuals-understanding-and-controlling-humidity

    Yes, pip is the initial bump or hole that you first see that signifies the chick is trying to reach the outside. The first thing they do is make an internal pip into the air cell. If you hear peeping from the chick inside the egg, you know that the chick is internally pipped and you can usually expect to see the external pip, the outside bump within 24 hours give or take. After you see that externall pip it can take 24 hours before you see the chick progress to the zip. Yes the zip is the linear pecking around the shell to allow them to push out.
     
  10. JadedPhoenix

    JadedPhoenix Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There are two pips during hatching. The internal pip is when the chick has broken the membrane at the air cell but is still fully in-cased in the shell. The external pip is when the chick as poked a hole in the shell. And yes, the zip is when the chick starts to make the crack around the shell while starting at the external pip.

    For your next incubation, to avoid the chicks developing at different times, you can move your eggs around every few days so that no one chick remains at the cooler or warmer spot in the incubator.
     

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