Hatching frustration

Discussion in 'Peafowl' started by Birdbaum, Jun 27, 2016.

  1. Birdbaum

    Birdbaum New Egg

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    Hi all, thanks for any help you can give me :)

    I got a yearling pair of white peafowl almost three years ago; last year was the first year the male was fertile. I got 2 chicks that survived to adulthood from last summer's laying season--I was using a circulated-air HovaBator. This year, all the chicks were dying within days of hatch; often they'd even pip and then just sit there and die. So I upgraded to a Brinsea Ova Easy, thinking the HovaBator just wasn't cutting the mustard. I've had about 10 eggs come through that were in the Brinsea start to finish, and while I've had a few actually hatch (most are still dying in the shell), they can't stand up. Three days ago one hatched with a huge omphalocele and while it could move its legs, its feet were curled into claws and seemed completely nonfunctional. I'm thinking neural tube defect, but I have no idea really. Brinsea (spot-checked and accurate) is set to 99.5 and 45% humidity.

    Mom, dad, and the two yearling offspring have a 50sf indoor enclosure in a side of a barn with a high perch and a lot of straw on the floor. There's a door (always open) to an 8' high, 200sf outdoor aviary, also with high perches. There's a very lush planting of alfalfa in there that they love. I give them game bird feed free-choice and a handful of cat food per day. There's an auto-fill waterer (so it's always fresh), and oyster shell free-access. None of the birds seem sick in any way. Dad's train is full-length this year and spectacular. He loves showing it off, naturally. Everyone has great feathers, bright eyes, and a good appetite. The two chicks I raised myself always come up to the fence to say "hi."

    Meanwhile a friend gave me three India blue eggs from free-range birds to hatch out and they all made it to hatching. One unfortunately pipped through a vessel and apparently bled out inside the egg, another one pipped but seemed to turn in his shell after pipping because after this nice pip, it died, and when I cracked it open he had turned around and suffocated (?) but the third is this super healthy, vigorous chick. The IB eggs are substantially larger than my white peahen's eggs.

    What am I doing wrong?
     
  2. DylansMom

    DylansMom RIP 1969-2017

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    Hello and welcome to BYC Peas! Take a deep breath and relax, sounds like you are likely doing nothing wrong. You do have an issue though and we'll try to help you figure it out.

    Any background on your white pair, previous to your purchasing them? Sometimes we can inadvertently end up with birds that are the result of years of unrelenting inbreeding and we would have no idea. The Peas don't care, and if this were the case it could explain the small eggs and failure to develop correctly and thrive. If you had 3 donor eggs that seemed bigger and developed better I would experiment with trying out some more eggs from outside your pair. If other eggs do well, you are beating yourself up for no reason.
    You have tried out a new bator so a mechanical problem sounds unlikely. The care, housing and maintenance of your older birds also sounds quite adequate. If it were me I would really start by trying some more eggs. You may just need a little fresh blood in your stock.
     
  3. barkerg

    barkerg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello and your in the right place for great info. For starters peafowl as are most ornamental fowl can be very hard to hatch in a machine. The best way we have found if a machine is to be used is to set under the hen or chicken hens for at least 14 days the longer the better and then move to a machine. If you are planning to go full term then you did the right thing by getting a Brinsea as they are probably the best for peas but, you will still see a marked lower ratio when compated to natural incubation. We set our peas under gamefowl for the first 2 weeks minimum and if we have to move to an incubator because of humidity or other factors we maintain 99.5 at 55-65% humidity, stop turning at 23 days, move to a hatcher and raise the humidity to 75%. Now to help on some of the issues you identified, chicks dying after pip is usually a humidity issue but, since you mentioned the not being able to stand up after hatching Im going to bet that it is a an incubation issue prior to pipping now this is just speculation from my personal observations, if the chick hatched a day or two early normally from a higher temp during incubation cycle ie... 100.5 (this can be hard to nail down because every incubator is different but temps can and will vary throughout the machine) back to hatching early sorry, the chick will be rushed and it will draw the yolk inside a little early and the legs cannot support its weight, you can usually pick these chicks out as they will have "pot bellies" and tend to fall backwards due to the belly weight but this should improve over a day or two as they gain strength and absorb the yolk. Try placing accurate thermos in the top, mid and lower portion of your machine and adjust from there. We use GQF's (not a good choice for peas full term) and the temps vary from 1.5 degrees top to bottom. We maintain the top temp at exactly 100.7 which keeps the middle and bottom trays at the 99.3-99.5 range. Try that and It gets better I promise, sometimes you have to embrace the suck in this business but dont give up,[​IMG].
    If you FB, we have some pics on assisted hatches.

    https://m.facebook.com/bobsgreenpeafowl/

    Gerald Barker
     
  4. Birdbaum

    Birdbaum New Egg

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    Thanks so much for responding!

    I AM afraid it might be genetic--the condition of the chicks at hatch is just so suspicious. I've been hoping there was some aspect of peafowl husbandry I'm just totally unaware of--and in browsing this forum yesterday and today, I realize I haven't been doing any kind of parasite control, could that be it? On the other hand I did hatch out 4 last year (2 died), and only 1 this year (which seemed healthy until he dropped dead 48 hours after hatch); with such small numbers it could just be chance but I was thinking about some sort of deteriorating condition in the hen that might have worsened since last year ... ?

    I got one of four shipped white pea eggs 3/4 of the way to hatch several years ago, which was disappointing, and so shortly after that my husband surprised me with this yearling pair. It was quite the present! I think he ordered them from Purely Poultry; obviously I didn't have anything to do with the purchase since they were a birthday gift, but it's my impression that the website he ordered from was essentially a broker who hooked him up with a breeder. So I have no idea how inbred they are, sadly. It's not looking really good though, is it?

    In related(!) info: the two yearling birds I have out there are both peahens (I mailed off their feathers to the testing place to find out, which was very cool). Since the eggs from the adult female are comparatively small, do you think her daughters may not be a good bet to breed from either, even if I get a new male?

    I agree that their accommodations are good, and I believe their diet is adequate (although I admit I had my fingers crossed that I was failing to feed them some key nutrient that would instantly make everything better!). I think my incubation parameters are correct, though I'd love tips on that if you have any. So obviously I'll worm them (should I dust them too for lice?)--would appreciate recommendations on the best way/type of wormer to administer ... and I might start looking for a white peacock, preferably in my neck of the woods (eastern Washington, in case you know of any ;) ).

    Thanks again, I so appreciate it. I just hate seeing these babies die time after time after time.
     
  5. Birdbaum

    Birdbaum New Egg

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    Jun 27, 2016

    Gerald, thank you! Yes I do Facebook, I will join your group. And thanks a million for this excellent information. I was spot-checking the temp on the top shelf; if anything I'd think the middle and lower areas in the cabinet would be cooler, but that may not be the case. It also sounds like my humidity might be way too low; I've been so afraid of drowning them that maybe I didn't go high enough. I'll bump that up too. I've been moving them to the hatcher (the old HovaBator) at the standard 3 days to hatch, but I'll do 5 from now on.

    I've been afraid to trust any of my chickens with my precious pea eggs, which now seems completely ironic, so as you say I'm going to have to let go a little--can't be any worse than losing all of them like I am now, right? I'll mess with the incubator and farm some out to some willing broodies, and keep on reading. I so hope it's incubation-related and not due to inbred birds (my greatest worry, as I say in another reply, though it hasn't posted because it's awaiting moderation, must be because I'm new). Thank you SO much for pointing me in the right direction!

    -Sara
     
  6. Birdbaum

    Birdbaum New Egg

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    Rats, my reply to DylansMom is awaiting moderation and then I quoted Gerald Barker and it said I don't have permission to post outside links... I hope it goes through. I will find your group on FB in the meantime :)
     
  7. barkerg

    barkerg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quick info on the inbreeding subject. Unfortunatley, most pets (peas included) in the USA and everywhere else Im sure, are inbred to a certain extent. Thats how a lot of patterns/colors were and still are being produced. Now before everyone beats me up, yes its managed better (by most) nowadays with many figuring out how to do it with unrelated genes but most are breeding the birds back into themselves to solidify the color/pattern. A great example is to compare American India Blues to their wild counter parts, Amercan IB's are short legged and fat while the wild ones are leaner and taller. Just my observations not gospel as most breeders will not admit to inbreeding but trust me it happens.[​IMG]

    Gerald Barker
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  8. FridayYet

    FridayYet Innocent Bystander

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    Are you absolutely sure your hovabator is holding a steady temp and humidity? They are notorious for being off.
     
  9. q8peafowl

    q8peafowl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had a quick read but i'm thinking of three things, your incubators aren't holding the temp right as you think, your humidity is too low for the last three days. And the most important part are the eggs getting enough air? Are you opening all the vents? Is your incubator in a controlled enviroment?(temp isn't going up and down).
     
  10. q8peafowl

    q8peafowl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Simply put their eggs under a broody hen and you will know if the problem is with your birds or the incubator.
     

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