Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 11 Checkup

I went to add water to the incubator and check on my incubating chicks. No alarms had gone off. So, either everything went perfectly, or someone knows how to clear out alarm codes. I suspect the former.

The teachers accompanied me to the staff bathroom (the nearest area where I can have total darkness) to watch me candle. I swear they were as excited as I was, which was a lot of fun.

I am ecstatic to report that all seven eggs are still alive and kicking. Literally! We saw happy, healthy, wriggling embryos in every egg. The teachers were surprised at how dramatically bigger the embryos were from last time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How I candle eggs

I bought a couple of small, really bright LED flashlights (from Costco, if memory serves). They weren't very expensive, and have been handy for other stuff.

I put the flashlight in the bottom of my hand, and then the egg, air sac (fat side) down, like so:


Then, I turn off the lights and put them closer together, sealing off the flashlight so that all light goes up, into the egg, like so (except that I didn't seal it off perfectly in this picture):

Hope that helps.

Here's an egg I candled yesterday, at 5 days along:

And for fun, here's video I took of an chick moving inside an egg:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 5 Candling

Today I candled the eggs at the elementary school. I waited until the kids were gone for the day because the classroom has so many windows that candling during class would've been impossible. I took the incubator into the faculty bathroom and checked them out.

All seven eggs are alive!

I took a picture of Andy for the teachers to share with the kids.


With the preschool batch of chicks, I will admit I was a little concerned about Squint, the last chick to hatch. He seemed much smaller than the others, and kept his eyes squinted shut a bit.

But, over the weekend, he perked up a bit, and seems totally normal and healthy now, albeit a bit smaller.

I'd taken the chicks home over the weekend, and the children (and teachers) were hoping I'd bring them back. So, I brought them back yesterday, much to the delight of the kids.

I tried feather sexing this batch of chicks. My gender predictions is that I have one pullet/one cockerel of the BCM, 1 pullet and 2 cockerels of the lav mixes. I really want the bcm/lav mix that came from a green egg to be a pullet. I thought I saw two rows of feathers, but it could've been desire. I feel really good about my BCM predictions, but not so good about the lavs.

This morning, I went to the elementary school because my daughter left her lunch home. Her classmates immediately jumped on me, asking more questions about eggs, hatching, and chickens. I even got three hugs. Awww!

I'm thinking if I have time, I'll try to candle the eggs after school on Thursday. Time is an iffy thing this week though, so it may have to go back to Friday.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Batch 2 of Blue Laced Red Wyandottes

The local elementary school was really excited to have me help with a chicken hatching unit.  It's just the first grade that is participating, but when we set up the incubator, we put it high enough that kids walking down the hall can see it as they walk by.
Eggs as seen from the hallway at school

A friend donated seven blue laced red wyandotte eggs to me for the project.

The first grade teachers had the kids all assembled and gave me time to talk to the kids about chickens and eggs and how hatching worked. I kind of wish I'd done the colorful eggs with the first graders- some of them were SO excited to hear about blue and green eggs.  They were very excited and respectful.

We ended up naming all of the eggs. The teachers and I were laughing at the names the kids picked.

 Erin (one of the teachers' names is Erin)

The kids all promised to not touch the incubator at all, so cross your fingers we get a good hatch.

Final Count

While I was at the preschool yesterday morning, I told the teacher what zipping was (even showed her pictures), and told her to call me when any eggs started doing that.  Went home.

An hour later, she called me to tell me two more chicks had hatched. One was the BCM, and the other was the BCM/Lav Am cross. I went back to the school, and put them in the brooder. I saw that the other BCM egg was pretty close to hatching, so I sat down and waited. Sure enough, within an hour, it had hatched too.

There was a lot of gunk in the bottom of the shell though, which worried me a bit. It seemed like both BCM had leftover egg white in there. The other chicks were pretty dry. Many people have said that BCM eggs need lower humidity, and it seems to be true.

I went back to the school at 3:15, and things were the same. The last lavender ameraucana egg was still pipped, but no real progress was made. The other chicks were all fluffing up nicely.

I did about the toughest thing I could do- I left the incubator there, with the pipped chick.

Last night and this morning, I mentally prepared myself to come in this morning and find a dead in shell chick. I decided if it was still in the shell and alive, I'd peel it out. I'd know it was definitely pipped for over 24 hours, and besides, I was supposed to set new eggs at 2pm at the elementary school today, so I needed to get the incubator sanitized and ready to go for that.

As I was driving to the school, I got a phone call from one of the teachers, telling me there was a hatched chick in the incubator!!!! I was so excited. I'd done such a good job preparing myself that I was shocked when it was out and healthy. It was still quite wet, so I bet it'd only been hatched about 20 minutes or so.

So, out of 6 eggs that went into lockdown, I got 6 healthy chicks! That's my best result yet.
I know this is an awful picture, but I don't want to take the chicks out with the preschoolers around. They'd want to hold them, and I just don't quite trust them.

The kids are so excited to see the chicks. I love their enthusiasm.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

First to hatch

Ok, I went to the school, and it turns out there's only TWO out. They're both ameraucanas, but I can tell they're mixed. I know one has pink toes, and it looks like one has a single comb.

The remaining four are all pipped.  I am worried about the two BCM since they've both been pipped for an awful long time now.  I could see all four beaks moving, and they all *seem* to be ok.




A day or two after my last post, I could tell the BCM egg had died, so I took it out. Because I am terminally curious, I sealed it in a ziploc bag and opened it. It looked about 7-8 days along.

I candled occasionally, and still felt like the remaining BCM eggs were a bit less developed than the four ameraucana eggs.

I was a nervous wreck, but I got the eggs back to the preschool on Monday, which was day 20. I transported them while still in the incubator, but I stuck a washcloth in there to keep them from rolling around.

I went back later in the day Monday to check on them, but no change.

I went in at 9am on Tuesday to check, and discovered I had two pips!

I was really surprised that one of the pips was a BCM egg. I was just SURE that they would be the last to pip and hatch.

I went back at the end of the school day, 3pm to check again. No real progress on the two eggs pictures, but the other BCM egg had pipped, and its' hole was actually bigger than the other two.  I thought that two more eggs looked just about ready to officially pip- I thought I could see a ripple in the egg, but it was just a tiny bit too soon to tell.

It nearly killed me, but I left the school gracefully.  I'm dying to go back and see what's happened.

I get to leave in about an hour to go check on them. I bet I have at least 2-3 chicks when I get there. I can't wait!!

As I was typing this, I got a phone call from one of the preschool teachers. She got to work early this morning, and told me I have THREE chicks waiting for me.  Wahoo!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 12 of preschool eggs

I ended up deciding to bring home the preschool eggs for spring break. They would've been at an empty school for NINE days. What if there was a power failure? Nobody would know in a timely way. Plus, scheduling times with the director would've been difficult. She never did give me her cell phone number, so I don't know how I could've gotten a hold of her.

I brought home the eggs two days ago. I was a big nervous about driving them home, since they're MUCH more fragile now that they're developing. I kept them in the incubator, and wrapped it in blankets for warmth and stability.

When I got home, the thermostat registered 94, so I am pleased there was such a low drop. They were brought back up to temperature within 10 minutes.

After a couple hours of letting them rest, I candled. Really, is this any surprise?  The four ameraucana eggs looked great- lots of movement and they looked dead on.  Two of the BCM eggs looked pretty good- they seemed a little smaller, but they were still moving and looking good. The third egg? I'm confused.  It looked like it was around 6 or so days along, which was behind.  I saw movement though, so I let it be.

Fast forward to today. It still looks the same development stage. I think it is dying. There's still movement, but it's very subtle, and the veins seem to be shrinking. The other two BCM eggs have gotten bigger, and match up with the others.

So, if things continue as they are, I expect six healthy chicks in eight or nine days. I think I'll have to hang out at the preschool.

I am a little nervous about the BCM eggs- I've heard they have a tougher time hatching, and often need assistance. I am really hoping that isn't the case.