Help a newbie out - how long from first hatch to last?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Achelois, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. Achelois

    Achelois Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2013
    I have a clutch of eggs under my broody - bought eggs and they're 6 light sussex and 6 lavender araucana. I've googled but can't seem to find the answer to my question. Around half of each breed began pipping yesterday morning, day 21, and some hatched by afternoon and others this morning. Sadly, one of the sussex had a good pip and looked like it began to zip but died :( I have two hatched sussex & three araucana, so 5 chicks in total - not great from a clutch of 12, but the eggs had a bit of a rough start.

    As a bit of back story, the hen was brooding out in the rain in the exposed vege garden, not protected from predators at all. We put her in a nest of straw in the woodshed and she was NOT happy - she sat on the eggs for a night - as far as I know - and then brooded in the bark instead. So probably not an ideal surface for brooding and turning 12 eggs, but I gave up and put them under her again (they'd already got cold after she'd sat for a little while) as she wasn't moving from her new bark nest. I figured it was that or nothing since I don't have an incubator.

    So, my question is, after this length of time - 30+ hours since first hatch - what's the deal with the remaining eggs? Is it a waiting game, or can they be presumed to be in trouble since they've not even pipped? I'm not sure whether it was a good idea to do it so soon, but I floated the remaining eggs in warm water and one was a dud, which I discarded, the other ones were high floaters and one started kicking and cheeping! So that's four that are potentially viable and one that's alive but not pipped. Should they have pipped by now? Or can hatch times vary that much in one clutch incubated at the same time - if some were perhaps on the outer and not kept as warm?
     
  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    [​IMG]

    Though chicken egg normally take 21 days from start of incubation to hatch it is not uncommon to have some eggs hatch on day 22, or 23 only, even under a broody hen. I've had batches of eggs hatch within 24 hours from the first pip and I've had batches hatch over a 3 day period. I once had a chick hatch on day 25 under a broody hen.

    Your hen will most likely stay on the nest for another day, to give the remaining eggs a chance to hatch as well, before she will leave the nest to take care of the chicks that did hatch. When that happens you can check the viability of the remaining eggs by candling them (check for a completely dark egg, except the air cell area and possibly an internal pip) and hold them against your ear and tap them gently with your fingernail and listen for a response. Sometimes you need to tap more than once for a reaction. If the eggs are viable and you see/hear signs of life you need to keep them warm (±99*F) and fairly humid (65%) until they've hatched. Good luck and fingers crossed!
     
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  3. Achelois

    Achelois Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2013
    Thanks! That's a huge variation - wow! I'm having trouble candling with a box and bright work light - just can't even see an air cell. Funny that one I decided was a clear early on and pretty porous is, going by the float test, viable (or has hatched, I don't know which one it was). But only one of those is showing signs of life - no tapping or peeping from the other four. Is it common for a chick to die after making a large hole but before unzipping? It had its little beak out - very sad for the 9-year-old! What causes this? Could the mother or other chicks have suffocated it? I gather it's usually better not to intervene.
     
  4. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Have you got a flashlight? Find a dark spot/room (I climb into a cupboard during the day when I candle), then hold the egg over the lens and fold your fingers around the egg, so the light shines into and through the egg. Unless you have really dark eggs you should be able to see something this way. By now there should be a pretty well developed air cell in the eggs, if you don't see one and you are 100% sure about that, carefully remove the egg and go bury it or toss it far, far away :)

    I hatched some eggs under a broody a few weeks ago that candled clear until day 14 or thereabouts and by day 18 they didn't look good at all. I was looking for other eggs for her to hatch or chicks for her to raise when the fist chick hatched on day 19. All four chicks ended up hatching and we named them all "Surprise!" LOL You could hatch and candle many times and still get caught out. No 2 eggs are the same and no 2 hatches are the same.

    Give the quiet ones more time. They will not respond or show much sign of life before they pipped internally, into the air cell. Sometimes they'll take their sweet time and when you are just about to give up, they will hatch. Or, in a friend of mine's case, wait until you toss the egg and hear a panicky CHEEEEEP! (The chick survived). I've seen eggs go from dead quiet to chick in a matter of hours. Leave them under the broody and check again later or when she gets up off the nest.

    Sorry to hear about the loss. There are a few possible causes, suffocation might be possible, if it was under a broody, there's some more here:

    Sign: Pipped. Full-term embryo, dead in shell. Causes:
    1. Low humidity or temperature for a prolonged period.
    2. Low humidity during hatching.
    3. High temperature during hatching.
    4. Nutritional deficiencies.
    5. Breeder diseases.
    6. Poor ventilation.
    7. Inadequate turning during first 12 days.
    8. Injury during transfer.
    9. Prolonged egg storage.


    Intervention is a hotly debated topic here. Some are pro and some are against. I for one are pro and have assisted many chicks that lived and did very well, no different from their unassisted hatch mates. But at the end of the day it's a personal choice. A friend of mine, Sally Sunshine, put together a wonderful article on hatching intervention, how to, when to etc, if you're interested:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/step-by-step-guide-to-assisted-hatching

    Best of luck with the remainder of the hatch. I'll keep my fingers crossed for more chicks!
     
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  5. Achelois

    Achelois Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you! I just had no idea hatch time could vary so much in one clutch. It's not easy info to come by When we had bantams hatch when I was a kid, 7 out of the 9 were out within a few hours. I think the other two were dud. Left there and didn't hatch at all - not sure if my mother bothered looking into why or just tossed them. The quiets - well, I'm not too worried either way. It's the peeping one that gets me - my 9-year-old cried herself to sleep about the one that died with its beak out. An egg is just an egg, but once your child's seen the little chick that was alive in it, well...I'm not going to sleep much tonight thinking about it. Another loss would crush her.

    That link was immensely helpful. It's what got me onto this site.
     
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  6. Achelois

    Achelois Out Of The Brooder

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    Oh, one thing that's been worrying me - I know that eggs aren't supposed to be turned a few days to hatch because they start pipping. But my quiets I have handled them to float. Given that there's no sound coming from them they obviously haven't punctured the air cell and started on the shell, as you say (or may be dead). Does that mean it's okay that they've been repositioned? Or because I've disturbed them could they pip upside down and die? :( I'm confused on that point.
     
  7. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Don't worry, it'll be fine. I've turned eggs every which way during the final 3 days and hatches in the past. At this late stage they are in the position they got into, ready to hatch and will only move when they start rotating to zip the egg shell open during the final stage of the hatch. And even that can take some time and effort. Best of luck and fingers crossed there will be no more fatalities. Unfortunately these things happen with chickens. I've had a number of losses myself. Sometimes they are simply not meant to live. It sucks, but that's nature. Enjoy the ones that did make it [​IMG]
     
  8. Achelois

    Achelois Out Of The Brooder

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    It got worse. So much worse. She got up this morning to tend to the living chicks who are hungry leaving the half hatched one to go cold. I have it dying in my hand warming it over a bowl of water. But also in the nest was the last hatched chick that looked like it had been sat on - dead. My daughter is still sobbing over the one that died mid hatch.
     
  9. Achelois

    Achelois Out Of The Brooder

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    Well, the chick that got frozen about as close to death as I've ever seen a bird is still hanging on. Maybe others would think it was a euth job, but I just can't do it to my daughter, and myself, really. I don't have an incubator so it's in a plastic box with a hot water bottle and an electric blanket and I'm feeding it electrolyte about every hour. It cheeped at me before, which is nothing short of amazing. I'm not holding out much hope though.
     
  10. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Oh No! I'm so sorry [​IMG] I hope the cold chick pulls thorugh. You're doing a good job, just keep it warm and hope. Keeping my fingers crossed here!
     

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