Sunday, March 29, 2015

So Much Hatching Going On

The past two weeks have been filled with the tiny peeps of our newest arrivals. While we still need to work on perfecting our incubator process, we did hatch two black orpington chickens, and three ducks.

This was our first egg to hatch. One thing that I learned through the process was that chickens hatch differently from ducks. The chickens made a small hole, called a pip, and then slowly enlarged it until they could push themselves out.

The babies were so tired when they finally emerged. It was really sweet to see how they would cuddle up with the remaining eggs, periodically calling out to the others as they had the energy.

The babies should stay in the incubator until they dry out quite a bit and get to their adorable, fluffy state. 

When the ducks hatched, they would create an area of cracking, which would be followed by the egg wiggling. I am quite sure that the wiggling was from them turning in the egg, because the cracks would appear later on another side. When the cracks formed at least mostly around the egg, they would start pushing their way out. I did manage to get a video of out of them hatching. 

We have a Hova-Bator  incubator. It worked well for the price, but we did need to make a few tweeks. Adding the optional egg turner was a great suggestion from my sister-in-law. The eggs need to be turned a minimum of three times daily, and having it automatically done was not only easier, but made it so we were not dropping the temperature frequently by opening the incubator up. 

During the incubation period, we discovered that having a hygrometer was quite important. The chickens had a much harder time hatching then the ducks did, and I believe it is because the humidity was a bit dry for the them. By the time the ducklings were hatching, we had a digital one that we really like. The digital hygrometer/thermometer combo also showed us that the thermometer that came with the incubator showed about 8 degrees lower. Ideally, keeping the incubator at 99 to 100 degrees is what we were aiming for, so 8 degrees of difference was causing the babies to not develop like they should have been.
We kept a simple spray bottle next to the incubator so a few spritzes could quickly be sprayed in to raise the humidity as needed. We averaged out at 50% most of the time, but sometimes it did get up around 80% for a little while.