Oh, we need so much help!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by BlakeMama, Nov 5, 2014.

  1. BlakeMama

    BlakeMama Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 5, 2014
    Hello all! We are new to chickens in general and have 5 hens that we bought as chicks spring '14 (Barred Rocks and New Hampshires) along with 2 roosters. We have been getting about 4 eggs a day, which is great. Our chickens have a coop with a run, but we usually leave the run open and let them free range because they just seem to like it so much. About 2 weeks ago, one of the hens disappeared, and we assumed a coyote got her. About a week ago, we found her- she has been setting a nest that is very well hidden in a very weird spot! We were encouraged to put the eggs in an incubator because it was getting so cold in our area, so we got one. Here are my questions:

    1. Is there a good way to tell how far along an egg is? When we first found the nest, there were about 15. By the time we put them in the incubator, there were 26 and it seems the other chickens have been laying their eggs there too! I have no idea what will hatch when!
    2. Most of the eggs are very dark brown and I have had difficulty candling them. I can see the line where 3/4 of the egg is dark and 1/4 is transparent, but that's about it. What should I be looking for? Is there a trick for seeing in very dark eggs?
    3. At least some of the eggs are at least 2 weeks old, if not older. Should I be able to see something moving, hear something, anything? I'm afraid it got too cold before we found them.

    Any information is appreciated! We have no idea what we're doing! Thank you in advance!

    Blake
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Well - you have what is called a "staggered hatch" going on. Lots of eggs, potentially hatching at varying times. I don't know how well I can answer your questions, but I will try.

    This is a good resource to help you maybe figure out how far the eggs are in incubation:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/candling-pics-progression-through-incubation-of-chicken-eggs

    Development is be harder to see as the eggs get farther along, and the dark inside of the egg with some transparency may be all you're going to see. Sometimes it's harder to see movement later on in incubation, as the chick takes up most of the space inside the shell. I don't know where you live, but if your hen was dedicated to her nest, the eggs should be fine. That many, though, could complicate things. Sometimes if a hen has too large of a nest, the eggs don't get covered evenly, and some will not develop or be behind. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014
  3. BlakeMama

    BlakeMama Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 5, 2014
    Thank you! That makes me feel better. I am a bit concerned about turning since some still need it and others most likely are getting close to not needing it. I have them in an incubator with an automatic egg turner. Is it worse for older eggs to get turned or younger eggs to not get turned?? Thank you again for the advice!
     
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    I would take them out of the egg turner. There is a chance of a hatched chick getting caught in the turner and getting injured. Then there is the matter of "lock down". Now, some will say DON'T OPEN THE INCUBATOR EVER during lockdown (after Day 18 of incubation, generally to raise temps and humidity in the incubator to keep membranes moist during hatching). It seems to me that you don't have much of a choice. If you can tell which eggs are the least developed and mark them, I think I'd do that and keep turning those until the furthest-along eggs start to pip. That's when I'd leave the incubator closed until those have hatched. If I remember right, I think the further along the eggs are the less crucial turning is. It will be interesting to see how many of them hatch for you. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014

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