I didn’t exactly plan it this way, I just wanted them to hatch on a weekend so we would be home, but we managed to get our first chick on Easter Sunday. Several name ideas have been tossed around like Easter, Esther and Jesús. We had eggs from both the Ameraucana and Barred Rock’s, but the truth is they all look EXACTLY alike. Hopefully we’ll be able to tell the pure barred rock from the Ameraucana /barred rock mix when they are older, my plan was to keep the Ameraucana ’s for replacing layers.
On day 18 we stopped turning the eggs, removed the vent plugs, and increased the humidity to 70%, which proved a bit difficult. Just putting more water in only got it to about 60%. I ended up putting 2 wet wash rags rolled up in the corners to increase it. One wasn’t quite enough, and two sometimes seemed too much, so it ranged between 70-80%. By Saturday peeping could be heard, and by Saturday night the first egg pipped. Sunday afternoon the first one, an Ameraucana , hatched right after Easter dinner. By Monday morning there were 4 hatched and several pipped, and by noon 10 had hatched. That evening, even though they can stay in the incubator up to 48 hours, we moved all the dry chicks down to the brooder in the garage. Something I read said to leave at least 1 chick in the incubator because the peeping and running into all of the eggs will speed things along. Tuesday morning I moved several more dry ones down, and there were 3 freshly hatched ones flopping around in the incubator. By Tuesday evening the last one had hatched and all were dry, so everyone went down to the brooder.
Our end results were 15 new chicks. We started with 36 eggs, and candeled at 7 and 14 days of incubation. We were unsure of the results at 7 days so we left them all in, next time I think I’ll mark the ones I was not sure of to verify how accurate I am. At 14 days we removed several that were clearly not developing and had broken 3, leaving us with 20 eggs. They hatched between Sunday and Tuesday. Tuesday evening we candeled the 5 eggs that hadn’t hatched to see if we should continue incubating. We saw nothing telling us they were alive, so we stopped. DH broke them open to see what happened. Two had clearly stopped developing around the 2 week mark, the other 3 just stopped at some time later, one of those had feathers, but the intestines were on the outside of its body.
We have been collecting eggs to start a new incubating batch this evening. This time we will put in as many as we can and have 61 saved up, which is more than we need. I’m not sure we will change our procedure except to start with a very full incubator. The temperature after the first couple days was very stable, so we didn’t move it, which will hopefully make our first couple days of the next incubation more stable. Maybe that contributed to some of the losses? We will consider buying an automatic turner next year, perhaps opening the incubator 3 times per day contributed to losses also. I think our storage prior to incubation was fine and didn’t contribute. I actually pulled one out of the fridge to make an even 3 dozen, it had been stored pointy side up and not turned, and it actually hatched. I do wonder if separating the chickens prior to collecting, and upsetting everyone contributed. Maybe a large number were not fertilized? I hope that we are able to improve our hatching odds this time around. I’ll keep you posted on our progress of the next incubation.
I have a little video of hatching we took with a phone, it's taking too long to load right now, so I'll have to come back later and post it.