Disclaimer: Included in this post are photos of chick embryos. Some may consider them to be graphic- please take that into consideration before you continue. That being said, I in no way mean to dis-respect these little creatures. I have taken photos of the embryos and details because I find beauty in the way God creates even the smallest details of simple animals. It’s amazing and fascinating to me and I’d like others to be able to see that too. All these embryos were from eggs that “quit” in the incubator- I didn’t start them and crack them open (and kill them) just to get some photos.
If you want to see pictures of chick embryos from each day of development (1-21) I found this site.
incubator progress- a journal of sorts for the details. My incubator start-up post can be read over here.
Eggs placed in the incubator on 3/11 in the evening; started with 61 including some older than 10 days from in the fridge (un-turned, point end up) and eggs from my flock, my uncle, and the lady I borrowed the incubator from. Eggs from my uncle and friend were collected within a few days of incubating and stored “properly”. I also am trialing a damaged egg. I took a bit of elmers glue to one egg that had been cracked (pecked?) near the end of my egg collecting days. It just broke the shell, not the inner membrane. I found the idea online with parakeet eggs or something like that. The big detail is to make sure you only put it on the crack so that as little of the porous surface is blocked. (And it worked- the egg didn’t hatch, but it fully developed. See details later in the post. Certainly a greater risk of introducing bacteria, though.)
3/19 I opened the first egg earlier today- one from the woman I’m borrowing the incubator from- that had only a small embryo that had “quit”- I wrote about that in my first post on incubating here. The picture:
I opened 2 more this evening- both that I have never seen anything in (vessels or otherwise) when candling. The shells were lighter, so I wasn’t concerned about having missed something. Still no smell, although they’re runny and disintegrating a bit. Neither looked like they had ever had any progress. One was out of the fridge, and one was from my uncle. So now all my remaining eggs in the incubator fit in to egg cartons- I’m at 58 and counting down.
3/20 I took out another egg this morning- one that showed no development when candled. I had seen a bubble that would follow as the egg was turned. This might not have been a concern if I could have seen other development, as I found some forum discussions where that was happening with developing eggs. This one never showed an air space at the end of the egg, and had a crack in it that was visible when candling but hard to see otherwise. I tried to take a picture, but you can’t see the air bubble in the pic. No development when I opened it. This one was a fresh laid/collected egg from my flock.
Another “clear” egg out in the evening. No development when candled, none when opened. Another that was freshly laid- just a few days before I started the incubator.
3/21 Another “clear” egg out in the morning. No development when candled, none when opened. From the dozen I got from my uncle.
3/22- A cutthroat morning at the incubator. I candled 24 and took out 12. That being said, I went through the fridge eggs. I also took out several that had started to develop, but stopped. 7 from the fridge, 5 I had collected “fresh” for incubating. Of the collected ones, one had a crack in the end and was fairly porous, and one was from the first day I collected- neither of these had any progress.
2 of the fridge eggs had started to develop and stopped. These you could see the beak starting to develop and wings that were looking more like wings (not just buds) as well as legs developing, and I believe organs (outside of the body- they go into the body nearer to the end of development, if I remember correctly). I can’t tell you what day these quit, but my guess would be somewhere around day 5-6
1 collected egg had a teeny tiny embryo- basically only the basic shape- no details could be seen. Day 1 or 2? It’s not just a fuzzy picture- that was really about all there was to see-barely.
2 of the collected eggs had started and progressed further before stopping. Day 7-9ish is my guess. You can see lots more detail on these- the 3 individual toes, a beak that can open, wings, and even the spots on the skin where feathers would be growing in later in development. Organs, too. If you know what you’re looking for, you might be able to tell what’s what. I assume the dark red blood spot may be the heart?
A brutal night as well- 12 more removed. 4 from my uncle, 4 from the friend, 4 of my own (1 fridge egg). Small embryos- less than a week, I’d say- in 3- two from my uncle and one from my friend. The two banty eggs (mine- one fresh, one from the fridge) had a string of almost clear jelly ball type things- maybe a very early embryo? They (embryos) are starting to be a bit more disintegrated now when I open them and find an earlier quitter. I found blood rings in several. Most of the eggs I pulled out this evening were darker brown shells or green shells- much more difficult to see through. That and the blood rings- that look like something early on, especially to a beginner, make it tricky. I am seeing a more pronounced thicker line around the entire egg (or most of it) on the eggs I find just a blood ring in.
The better news now, is that I saw movement in a large percentage of the eggs that I candled and left in the incubator. More than half way done now, and 31 eggs remain in the incubator. Some more will probably go when I can decipher better what’s inside. The ones with movement I’m going to try leaving alone from now on. I figure if they’re alive now, they probably won’t explode before the end, even if they don’t make it any further in their development.
3/23- 3 more out this morning that showed development when candled, but seemed very small and had no movement. One of my freshly collected eggs and 2 from my friend. When opened, 2 had small embryos (less than a week) and one had another clumpy string of clear jelly balls. Down to 28 in the incubator, and I’ve seen movement in all but 7- those have darker shells so it’s difficult to see anything.
last 3 eggs removed from the incubator tonight. 1 from my friend that had a small (less than a week) embryo, 1 from the fridge with only a blood ring, and 1 freshly collected with only a blood ring.
That leaves 25 in the incubator, and they should all stay. only 1 banty egg still has me guessing, and I THINK I saw movement- so hard to tell and the bits of light flashing in your eyes make it hard to tell in the dark between movement and eye spots in a very dark/green eggshell. The 2 with only blood rings kept me guessing, too, they had porous shells in places, and when the yolk moves, it can leave you guessing. I finally took the 3 out because they seemed to have more light space than I thought they should, and no defined movement. And I thought I was only seeing that thick blood ring, no vascular development.
Egg yolks are very disintegrated and runny when opening them now. The white has a clump that jells up in the pointy end of the egg. Still no bad odor, though.
Hoping for most of the 25 to be hatching into lively chicks on April 1st!
3/27- opened the incubator this evening to check the temperature when I turned the eggs. My nose told me something wasn’t right. So I sniff tested the eggs to find the offender. I hesitantly cracked it open to find a chick embryo that had stopped developing I’d say around day 9? Stinky, but not as horrible as I’d expected it might be. It was an egg collected the day before I started the incubator.
3/28- I thought I should check each egg over once more before lockdown, and (SADLY) pulled 6 more eggs out. They had a lot more light coming through when candled than they should have at this point, and no movement that I could see other than the sloshing of the cloudy stuff that moves when you move the egg. Several had what looked like a blood ring that looked clumpy and stuck onto the shell. 5 fresh laid, 1 from the fridge. All with embryos developed to roughly day 8-15ish? One looked pretty fresh- I’m hoping I didn’t open it in error! (Update: I found the eggcartonlabels post (mentioned above) with all the embryo pictures, and was relieved when it looked like too few and too short of feathers to be developed to the date we’re at today. Whew!
3/29- I put the incubator on “lock down” this morning- filled up the water reservoirs to increase the humidity and removed my block of wood that “turned” my eggs from under the incubator, so all sit neatly in their cartons, point side down now. I kept 3 egg flats and distributed the eggs evenly. I have 6 left from my uncle, 1 from my friend, 2 from the fridge, and 9 I’d collected- 3 banty eggs, 1 egg that was cracked and I repaired, and 5 others- some are from my black chickens and some from my chanteclers- it’s difficult to tell for sure, as most of the eggs are the same light brown color. All the eggs I knew for sure where chants were removed 😦 If black is dominant over white, I should be able to tell my chicks apart. but if white is dominant, there’s no telling for sure, since my roos are chants (and the banty, which is quite possibly the daddy for some of these chicks). If I try again, I’ll be separating my chantecler girls for 2 weeks, then adding the roos for a week, then I’ll collect eggs solely from them (and probably some bantys since they’re fun and easy to tell apart) to put in the incubator.
3/31 My dear daughter(s?) raided the incubator! 😦 😡
One egg was completely smashed open. A little white chick inside that was so close to being done… 😦 It was one of my fridge eggs. Back in the incubator with everything else, including one egg that lost some pieces of shell, but the membrane was still intact. I can’t express how upset I was at my kids!
4/1- 1 egg piped, slightly enlarged the hole, then died. 4 others piped and zipped, 3 from my uncle, one of my own that I collected. The 3rd from my uncle seemed to be stuck- like dried in stuck. I opened the incubator since nothing else showed signs of hatching yet, got the 3 out that were out of shells and dry, and freed the 4th- shell was completely stuck on it. I only took off the top and left it in the incubator to finish getting out of the egg itself. I added a bunch of water, since things were obviously too dry. The egg with pieces of shell missing had something breathing in it, but not hatching. I ended up taking out the 4th hatched chick after it was mostly dry and misted the eggs. The chick that had piped and stopped I removed the eggshell from- a little black chick, definitely gone.
4/2- nothing happening. Not sure if anything is still alive in the egg with shell missing- it’s been oozing some and I haven’t seen the movement lately.
4/3- 1 more chick from my uncle out this morning, with another from him piped and zipped (now out). One of the chicks that hatched out from my uncle died. No other action in the incubator, so I took out the two that hatched and cleared out the shells, etc. Spritzed the eggs, added more water. Took out the egg with pieces missing, as I was pretty sure it was dead (it was- another black chick).
4/6- I emptied the incubator this morning after giving the “float test” a try. Mine all floated, but it seemed to be just the airspace above the water. I candled and (hesitantly) opened them. All were mostly developed, but hadn’t quite finished. 3 banty chicks, 1 white one of my own, one from my uncle, 1 black chick from my friend, and 2 black chicks of my own. The egg that I had glued at the beginning was the white chick. One of the black chicks of my own was a fridge egg. I have too few results to be able to speculate much on the color gene dominance.
So: I have 5 live chicks- 4 rhode island reds and 1 that’s half Chantecler of the 18 that made it to lockdown (17 that stayed in after the incubator was raided) and 6 that hatched. My think my chantecler chick is likely half banty Americauna. The wing feathers are coming in patterned. We’ll see what it grows up to be. Note: The yuck on the chicks is a combo of crud from hatching and colostrum- I put in a dish shortly after they hatched and they flopped around in it. They gobbled it up, but it makes a sticky, nasty, clumpy mess before it’s gone.
What I’ve learned/reinforced:
1) a. God makes amazing creatures and b. He uses amazing processes to form them!
2) Children are very interested in and amazed at #1
3) I have to try again. Note to self- stay AWAY from the bins of chicks a the feed store and tractor supply…
4) Monitor humidity much more closely. I don’t think a “dry hatch” is going to work for me. That’s not what I was going for, but I really think I needed more humidity than I had. I got a hygrometer to check humidity part way through, but never checked to make sure it was calibrated correctly. I’ve found how to with the “salt method”, and need to do it before I try again.
5) Somehow I MUST keep my children away from the incubator for lockdown! I assume that contributed a lot to my end losses.
6) If I just separate my 2 banty chickens and my banty rooster, I will be able to solve this color thing…
7) I’ll be a lot more confident in my candling the next round, and probably will leave them alone ’til something like day 10 next time.
8) While fridge eggs can develop, the rates are lower, so I won’t use them unless I have to. I did this time for experiemental reasons and because I had room.
9) Glueing an egg can work if needed.
10) I still have a LOT to learn!