Hi everyone! Happy Friday! I want to give an update on my chickens since it has been a couple of months from the last post and a lot has happened!
Let’s get into what to look for while incubating eggs!
I was going to make a post with my last set of hatchings but so much was happening and I wasn’t able to document the things that were happening so I’m going to show you some of the basics.
My other post How to Care for Pet Chickens and Incubating Eggs goes into how and what you need to do when you want to hatch your own eggs.
The photos of the eggs on the top and bottom right are what you what to see as far as the embryo developing in the egg! I believe I took these photos throughout the early part of the 21 day incubation process. You can start to see signs of life around day 2 or 3, but it’s difficult to know for sure that early in the process since there could be a piece of trash inside the egg.
If you look at the photo in the top left, you can see what you want the air sac to look like! The air sac should be in the bottom part of the egg and not detach if you rotate it. It also shouldn’t look like the one in the top (and bottom right, I believe it’s the same egg just different days of development) which in the hatching world is called a saddle air sac if I remember correctly.
- Top Left: I’d say that this photo is around day 3 or 4 because of how small the embryo (the dot towards the top of the egg) is. You can see the blood vessels forming around the sides of it.
- Top Middle: This one I’d say is around the day 7 mark. You can clearly see the chicken growing (and yes it’s really hard to see the vessels in the photo).
- This time I when I candled the eggs on day 2, I drew a little dot on the side with the X so I could keep track of which eggs I saw growth in!
- Top Right: This is the egg that had the disformed air sac. It’s hard to see the actual embryo in this egg because the shell was so dark, but the vessels were visible because it closer to the surface of the shell than the chicken.
- Bottom Left: this is a photo of an egg that either wasn’t fertilized or never grew. You can see the light passing through it with no problem and the yolk of the egg is the dark spot in the top half of it.
- Bottom Right: this is the same egg from the top right just later in the process because of how hard it is to see inside of the egg!
- Middle Right: the chicks that made it through the incubation period!
Tips for Incubating:
- Limit the time that you have the eggs outside of the incubator while candling and do not candle in a cool/cold room or you could send the developing chick into shock and possible kill it.
- The best egg to incubate are the local ones either from your own flock or somewhere in the surrounding area because there’s about a 7 day window from the time it was laid to the time it’s place in the incubator before the hatch rate does not look probable.
- If you do get eggs shipped to you (and if possible), turn the eggs 180 degrees to let the air resettle after all of the moving and let the egg adjust to the temperate (because once again, you don’t want to shock the eggs from going to one extreme to the other).
- Make sure you maintain temperature and humidity
I Hatched More Chickens!
So, the second time I hatched my chickens was completely different from the first time! Yes, I had a better understanding than the first time I did it, but the whole journey from start to finish was a lot more stressful.
I had ordered these eggs back in March to be shipped in the second week of May because I wanted a couple of different kind of chickens to add to my current flock from a place in Ohio which is about a 9 hour drive from where I live according to google. When it came time, my freshly laid eggs were shipped on a Tuesday and scheduled to be delivered that Thursday or Friday but because of Covid they were held up at the sorting center about an hour from where I live for several days and the mail doesn’t run on Sunday and the following Monday was a holiday which meant the post office was closed. At this point, I’m a mess because it’s getting close to the end of the optimal time frame of chicken to incubator period and I was STRESSING because I couldn’t get them and let them sit.
On the following Tuesday (a week after shipping), my parents were finally able to pick the eggs up from the post office. At this point, I had to decide how long I was going to let the eggs sit to let the air resettle and acclimate to the warmer temperate because they were freezing cold from sitting in the AC from the post office (some people think that having the eggs in colder temperature expands the window, but I don’t know how much truth is in that). I let them sit for about 4 hours, and they felt room temperature, so I put them in hoping for the best.
I had ordered 6 buff brahmas and 3 easter egger chickens. The brahmas are a yellow version of the gray ones I currently have, and the easter egger chickens are a type of chicken that can lay blue, green, or brown eggs depending on the parents (I had received a dark brown, a medium brown, and a blue egg). All of the eggs came free of cracks and there were 2 eggs I believe with air sacs that were perfect which I was extremely happy for considering how much they went through getting to me.
The first 24 hours, I did not open the incubator to candle the eggs because I felt like it was best to stay in the with the fixed temperature and didn’t want to risk anything. By the end of day 2, I finally candle them and almost cried when I saw the beginnings of life in the eggs in about half of them; at this point I was relieved to see that they were ok for now and wanted to give the other eggs a few more days before I pulled them incase they were late developers.
In the beginning, I had 5 eggs that were developing, and around day 5 or 6, I had noticed that one of the embryos wasn’t looking like it was growing. I left it in the incubator hoping that I was just looking at it wrong, but around day 8, there wasn’t any more growth in the chicken or the number of vessels and I decided it was a quitter (a fertilized egg that stops growing for whatever reason). It broke my heart to know that there was life in the egg, and it wasn’t able to make it, but I’m glad that it didn’t hatch and come into the world suffering, and that gave me some comfort.
At this point there are 4 eggs left, 3 of the brahmas and an easter egger (one of the brown eggs, sadly the blue one didn’t grow). On day 20, the one of the eggs had started to move. Day 21 was when you could see the progress of the hatching and hear the peeping of the chickens. By the end of the day 3 of the 4 chickens were out and the last on had a good size hole in it! When I woke up the next morning the last chicken hatched. The whole process of hatching with these chickens from the first visible crack to the chicken breaking free happened a lot quicker than the first time, and I’m not sure if it’s because I feed my chickens calcium to make the shells stronger or what.
Update on the Flock:
All of the baby chickens are outside now! Both the chickens hatched in May and the newest ones from June are out of the house. The 5 chickens from May stayed inside longer than the new ones because there were still some cool nights, and I felt better knowing they were inside than outside in the coop with the heat light on during the night. They finally went outside in one of the coops towards the end of June when the cool nights went away, and so the other chickens could get use to seeing them. Then at the end of July I let them free with the other chickens and placed the youngest ones in the coop.
Out of the 5 chickens that I hatched from my eggs, I thinks I have 3 little roosters and 2 hens. Right now everyone seems to be getting along with the older chickens, and I’m hoping it stays that way.
The 4 chickens from the Ohio eggs seem to be all females which I extremely grateful because I didn’t know what I’d do if I had had another rooster in the mix! One of the little buff brahmas is bow legged (the chicken in the top right photo), so I have to keep a watchful eye on her to make sure she gets enough food and water. She’s able to hobble around, and I read that bow legged chickens can live a “normal” life and they like roost more than the average chicken. The chicken in the bottom left is the Easter egger.
I also found out that egg production slows down during the summer because I get about 3-4 eggs a day out of the 10 hens that are old enough to lay eggs. I’ve also been putting about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in their water (a 5 quart container) because it helps with digestion and reduces the chance of them getting internal parasites.
I also have one broody chicken sitting in the coop most of the day, so when I go to feed them, I get her out to make sure she eats and drinks. When ever she sees me and I talk to her, she growls to try to keep me away from any of the eggs she has been are to get during the day, and it’s literally the cutest thing!
I finally decided the parents of my chickens that I hatched from the eggs in my yard! Obviously the father is the dark brahma rooster which is the big chicken in the top left photo. The smaller chicken in the top left photo I believe is the offspring of one of the dark Brahma hens, while the white chickens and gray chickens are the children of the Orpington hens because they are the lightest hens in my yard and the dark chicken in the middle photo is the child of one of the lace Wyandotte hens because of the feather pattern!
My thought is that both of the dark chickens and the mostly solid white one are the roosters and the two white chickens with the dark feathers around their necks are the females because the female brahmas have the same feather characteristics. These chickens are about 3 months old now, and I’m telling you I think I heard the little rooster in the top left photo crow last week which is crazy because chickens don’t crow or lay eggs until they are about 5 or 6 months old, but I heard a crow outside, and it wasn’t my grown rooster.
I think that’s about everything that has happened with my chickens over the past couple of months! I also don’t think I’ll get (or hatch) any more chickens in the near future even though baby chicks are adorable!
Happy reading until next time,