Really super specific questions about candling

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by 21stCenturyMom, Aug 28, 2014.

  1. 21stCenturyMom

    21stCenturyMom Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 24, 2014
    Hi everyone,

    I've been reading up about candling because we have our very first batch of eggs (and also, these will be our first chickens ever as well) set and supposed to hatch on Sept. 14! [​IMG] I am a total newbie and so begging pardon if these questions have been asked before, but I have some really specific questions about candling that I couldn't find an answer to on the candling articles I have read...

    1. Do you keep specific records on each individual egg in terms of weight and air cell size? If so, do you just put them in a spreadsheet or chart of some kind, or do you write the info on the egg? How do you designate viable or questionable eggs? (I was thinking just leaving "healthy" eggs without a mark, and writing a little question mark on the ones that seem odd.)

    2. Is it bad to write a lot of stuff on your eggs? I was thinking about tracing the air cell shape on each shell just to help me visually keep track. Is pencil ok?

    3. How do you set up your area for candling? I was planning to have a cushy towel laid out (in case we drop one... my kids are going to be "helping" me [​IMG]) and the flashlight ready to go of course. But... can I just take all the eggs out at once? Or do you candle one at a time? Seemed like it would be better to take them all out at once, and then keep the cover on the incubator so it can start warming up and recovering the heat lost from opening the cover, and get back to the right temp as quickly as possible...? I know that the eggs can cool for about 15-20 minutes and it won't harm them, but we have 24 in the incubator, so that leaves us less than a minute per egg! I'm nervous that we will be too slow. Also, should we cover the eggs while they are waiting to be candled so they don't get TOO cold?

    Thanks for sharing your techniques!

    --Debra
     
  2. Wisher1000

    Wisher1000 Bama Biddy

    Hello and welcome to BYC!

    I candle one at a time, leaving the others in the incubator. I sometimes number the eggs when I put them in so I can make notes on a spread sheet (and sometimes I don't!) Trace the air cells with a pencil or a Sharpie marker, it won't hurt them at all. Washing your hands before you handle the eggs is more important. You will be better able to understand what you are looking at as you have more experience. I have often put a ? on eggs that I wasn't sure about. I only toss eggs that are OBVIOUSLY clear at day 18 or ones that are starting to smell off.
    I sniff every egg as I take it out, my husband and kids think I've lost it...... [​IMG]

    My best advice is to get a really good light, and relax, this should be fun not stressful.
     
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  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Hello and [​IMG]

    Those are very good questions and I'll answer them as to how I do things.

    1. I'm not very scientific about it. I candle them maybe 3 times during the incubation period, otherwise leaving them alone. I look for veins after the first week, further development around mid-incubation, and then I candle once more right before lockdown to make sure they've developed fully. The more the eggs are handled, the more chance there is of dropping one or getting bacteria in it, or whatever. Honestly, I've never worried about air cell size or weight. I do the best I can, and if they hatch, great, and if they don't... well, there's always next time.

    2, I write on my eggs. I put an x on one side and an o on the other so I can keep track of turning them (at least I did before I got an egg turner [​IMG]). I will put a question mark on any iffy ones when I candle them.

    3. I candle one at a time in a very dark room. With the kids helping, having a towel or something there would be a good idea. Taking them all out, putting them in a box, on a counter, or whatever seems like it would increase the chances of them accidentally getting bumped or dropped or rolled around, possibly damaging them.

    Relax, enjoy the process, and enjoy the chicks that hatch. They may not all hatch. A 100% hatch doesn't even happen under a broody every time.
     
  4. 21stCenturyMom

    21stCenturyMom Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 24, 2014
    Thank you for the tips!

    We did end up candling today, and (I think?) it went pretty well. [​IMG] No dropped eggs, the kids had fun with it and we wrote numbers of each egg so we could keep track of their progress. There were a couple that seemed clear, but many had spidery veins visible which was encouraging! [​IMG]We have some Easter Eggers, which were quite easy to see into, some Ameraucanas that were hit or miss, and some Black Copper Marans that left me pretty much confounded.

    We are only at Day 5, but I've been reading so much about humidity and how important it is that I was concerned as to whether the eggs were doing alright with that. I had just filled up the water channels like it said in the incubator instructions and left it at that originally. The whole air cell thing has me pretty confused, because some of the eggs looked to me like they had HUGE air cells, while others seemed like they had none...?

    One more quick question: Is it okay for the eggs to be laid down on their sides or looked at in different directions when candling? I've also seen it emphasized "pointy end DOWN" a lot, but wasn't sure if a little bit of gentle rotation during candling would be ok. Does a broody hen move the eggs in a precise fashion, or does she kinda push them around here and there a little without being super precise?

    FTR my hubby thinks I am a total worry wart about the eggs... which I probably am :) lol
     
  5. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    It's fun to be able to look inside and see development, isn't it? I honestly have to restrain myself when I have eggs in the incubator or I'd be candling every day! (Which is why 2-3 times during incubation about drives me to distraction). I can't answer your questions about air cell as I don't really pay attention to that. Yes, it is OK to have them on their sides during candling. Many people lay the eggs on their sides during incubation if they don't have an egg turner. I did it that way many times. If you look in a broody's nest, you'll see her eggs all on their sides. I suspect they don't read the same books we do, so they follow a different set of rules. Not only does she not have her eggs "pointy end down", I doubt that she turns them precisely 3 or 5 or 7 times a day, making sure she turns them an odd number of times daily. She just kind of as you said, pushes them around here and there, making sure they're all tucked in when she's done fussing with them. She will also get off the nest once a day to take care of her needs, usually for 20-30 minutes. Which kind of blows the "consistent temperature and humidity" theory out of the water, don't you think? Let's face it, there is no way to even come close to imitating the natural way a broody hatches chicks, yet they are pretty resilient and will usually hatch in spite of us! Enjoy your project with your kids. [​IMG]
     
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