Friday, March 25, 2011

The hatch is on!

We had set 16 fertile eggs to hatch in a still air incubator. Mostly rare breeds but also a few Rhode Island Reds.

A lot of work was involved: checking temperature and humidity constantly as well as turning these eggs at least three times a day. The temperature had to be 101.5F measured about one inch above the eggs and humidity had to be between 40 and 50%. To make sure, we worked with THREE different thermometers!

And the turning is a science in itself: the eggs rest with the small side on the ground with the big top leaning to one side. So, when you turn, you technically only move them from leaning to the right to leaning to the left. You must wash your hands before you touch these eggs because bacteria transmits through the shell and may kill the embryo.

After 18 days of this fun, we stopped stop turning but increased humidity to 70% and then prayed that on day 21 anything happens. Apparently if you hatch 50% of your eggs with this method, you did a good job. Which reminds me that so far I have only hatched one out of all my millions of eggs.

Anywho, Tuesday was our day 18. Stop turning. Check. But I was only able to get humidity up to 60% all through Wednesday. Then Roberto got it right up to 80%. Argh! Not easy! Eventually it dropped to 70%.

Because we had three thermometers in the bator, some of them pretty big thingies, I wondered whether the chicks - while hatching - may get injured from these instruments. So we took them out. We are 'blind' now.

All throughout these three weeks, the temperature had been changing. Too cold. Too hot. Apparently too cold is not so bad as the chicks then may only hatch later but too hot... well, that will 'cook' the embryos.

Just when I was starting to consider the fact that we indeed may have cooked all our eggs in the incubator, there it is: A tiny crack in one of the shells. And every once in a while you hear a little 'peep' and see some pushing from the inside.

Needless to say: We are eggstatic!!

Of course the hatchling is a Rhode Island chick. Those were the eggs that Roberto initially did not want to set for hatching since the birds are 'too common' and loud. When I insisted, my argument was, "What if they are the only ones hatching?" I really hope, some more will hatch, though ...

Anyhow, it is quite the job for these little feather balls to get out and that it can take several hours. So we are expecting not to see a whole lot happening for a while even though there will be a tremendous amount of action inside each shell. Or so I hope.

And as I am typing this, one chicken is hatching .... a Black Sumatra baby ... please check back in later ... Aurelia and I are moving infront of the bator. And we won't leave for a looong while. Ahh, soo egg-citing ...

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis
55 AD - 138 AD

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