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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Results of second egg incubation

I thought it was about time I talk about the results of our second chicken egg incubation.  We started 61 eggs about 6 weeks ago.  We didn’t do anything different than we did the first time.  This time our results were generally more favorable.   

Started 61 eggs – temperature 99.5 and humidity about 55%, turned 3X day (in theory, more on this later).
At 7 days candled – 6 were infertile and removed - leaving 55 fertile eggs

At 14 days candled – 4 had stopped progressing and were removed, several were marked with a ? because we weren’t sure and were put back.  We accidentally dropped one egg onto another cracking both, and those were removed. – leaving 49 eggs. Continued with 55% humidity and turning 3X day.

At 18 days - We didn’t candle this time, but we did stop turning, removed the vent plugs and increased the humidity to 70-75%.

At 21 days - They started hatching on schedule, and within 48 hours all that were going to, had hatched.  Of the 49 eggs left in the incubator 40 hatched and 9 didn’t. I did help 2, one that had been working on it for 24 hours and had a little dry wing waving outside the shell, and the last to hatch; it was stuck and tired out.  I figured without help, they surely would die anyway.  I don’t know which one was waving, but it did well immediately, and I only helped it a tiny bit, the last one did not make it, but lived quite a while. In retrospect, I think helping it out was worse than just letting it die in the shell.  
75% hatch rate – Not counting the 6 infertile eggs and the 2 we broke.
62% survival rate – Of the 40 that hatched, we have 33 healthy chicks. We had several with foot or leg problems.  Several had curled toes, holding their foot like a fist, and wouldn’t bear weight on that leg, and 2 had splayed legs (one recovered on its own, the other couldn’t walk).  We tried some splinting I had seen online, but they couldn’t get around and weren’t eating and were culled.  2 died for unknown reasons, one being the one I helped, one just found dead.

Overall I’m happy with the results, and from what I’ve read, I think with our basic circulating fan incubator that is about the best we can expect to get.  
What went well – It was much easier to maintain the humidity with the larger number of eggs in there.  I think we were better at determining infertile eggs from the beginning and were surer of ourselves deciding which needed to be removed.  In the end, all of the ? eggs didn’t hatch either, so we were correct.  I also believe we had a higher percent of fertile eggs from the beginning, because we didn’t try to separate out breeds, upsetting them and their pecking order, like last time.
One from our first batch, almost lost all the baby fuzz
What could be better – We were somewhat poor at turning the eggs this time, and many times only did 2 X per day, and once only 1 X, although I’m not sure this impacted the results.  It was easier to maintain higher humidity, but it was also easier to make it too high, which happened several times.  Toward the end of the last day, the humidity was too low, making it hard for some to get out of their shells.  Next time I would be more careful to monitor the humidity during that time.  I also was listening to Nature’s Harmony podcast and she mentioned spritzing a dry egg directly with water if this is a problem, and I think I would try this next time.  I probably will help a stuck chick again, but next time I would be much more choosy.  The leg and foot problems are disturbing to me.  I’ve read it could be because of temperature issues, but I think our temp was pretty stable, and they all hatched within the expected time frame, so I’m not sure this is it.  Anyone out there have any experience with this? Anyone have ideas or information on how to avoid this with future hatches?
We are done with incubating eggs this season.  We ended up with 42 chickens.  Some will replace older layers, and the rest will hopefully become dinner.  So now on to part 2 of our plan to raise chickens the way family farms used to, I’ll keep you posted on our results.

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