Friday, February 27, 2015

The Chickening Has Begun!

The first batch of hatching eggs is cookin' along in the ReptiPro!

This is 17 eggs--bantam eggs from our flock and the Polish mix eggs from the package I got the other day.  The rest of the eggs I'll set tomorrow morning for a total of 43 eggs.  I've decided to stagger the first hatch (there will be two if all goes well) so that the hatching is spread over two days, Friday March 20th and Saturday March 21st.  Admitedly this is an experiment, hopefully it'll work out and chicks will hatch over both days, giving more people a chance to see an actual chick hatching.  I'm trying to hatch the bantams and more delicate Polish birds first to give them a bit of a head start on the standard size chicks...some of which may well be Giant Cochin/Brahma mix gigantobeasts.

This will be Hatch A, due to hatch on March 20th & 21st.  I'll add more eggs for Hatch B in 7 days, when I candle the Hatch A eggs and cull any duds.  Hatch B will get candled 7-10 days after they are set to remove any undeveloped eggs from that batch. Hatch B should hatch March 27th & 28th if everything goes to plan.  All of the chicks should get along in one big brooder box just fine.

What you're looking at in this picture is the inside of our ReptiPro cabinet-type incubator--ReptiPros were originally made for herpetologists, then the chicken crowd came along and discovered that it worked great for bird eggs, too!  I have a friend who hatches emu eggs in one of these--although she can't get more than a few in there at once.

The shot glass in the bottom of the incubator provides moisture (chicken eggs need 50% humidity for the first 18 days of incubation, 65% for the final three days).  I keep two hygrometers in there, one dial type and the other the digital one on the top shelf.  The white cord on the left is a probe thermometer, the end is stuck into the child's toy (a water weasel), that gold thing on the left.  The water weasel simulates an egg, the probe thermometer gives you a reading of what the temp is inside of an egg, making for a better hatch! 

The eggs are numbered so that everyone can keep track of and cheer on their favorite once hatching begins.  They are also marked with an 'X' on one side and an 'O' on the other to help me keep track of which ones I've turned--since there is no automatic turner for this unit, I must hand-turn the eggs 5 times a day.  When I open the door of the unit to turn eggs, it also allows CO2 out and fresh O2 in.

The one drawback to the ReptiPro is that there is a fan running 24/7 that the chicks can hear inside the egg, so the minute they hatch they all stumble over to the stupid fan like it's their long-lost mama.

Makes for a very confusing first few hours of life, poor things!

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