So, not more than an hour after I posted yesterday that we had tried unsuccessfully to candle the eggs and would try again in a few days, I turned the candler on, stuck an egg to the light, and * behold! * I saw magic unfold before my eyes. A red spot! With spider veins, a sure sign of a ferilized egg. With 21 in my clutch I had a hard time stopping at one egg…. I candled all of them right there. This was the end of Day 5. Out of 21, 4 are questionable, meaning that I didn’t see a red spot clearly. Because I’m a novice candler I am not writing off these eggs just yet. I’ve numbered all of them and when I collect meaningful data, such as candling results, I make a note of how each egg is doing. I’ll be checking the questionable eggs in a few days when I candle the whole group again.
Here’s my candler. It’s made from a cardboard oatmeal container. Jeff fashioned it up nicely. He lined it with aluminum foil to cut down on the risk of setting the place on fire. We’re using a 100 watt incandescent bulb. Now that we’ve candled successfully and know what we’re looking for, we may switch to a flourescent bulb, which throws off less heat.
I’m getting ahead of myself in describing the candler.
Here is how we did it:
Cut a slit in the lid of the oatmeal container to let the cord from the lamp hang out (so you can plug it in to the wall. You want this cord to be as long as possible.)
Then cut (or drill) a hole in the other end of the container. I had read that a 1 1/2″ hole is a good size, but it turns out 1″ worked better for our eggs.
We added a layer of aluminum foil under the lid to deflect the heat from the bulb. You know, so the candler doesn’t melt while you are both holding the precious egg and taking photos of it. What would you do then?
Below is the guts of the whole thing. A painting light that’s been stripped of the metal shade. It lays on the aluminum foil lining. You’ll want to lay the candler on its side like this while you look at the egg to get the best view possible. The bulb lays on the foil.
When you turn it on… WOW it is bright! In reality, you would have the lid with the aluminum foil liner secured in place when you turn it on. This way you minimize the extra light that enters the room while you are looking at the egg.
Here’s how it all works. It’s best to have two or more of you there, but you can do it with one person if you have very steady hands.
If you’re using an incandescent bulb, it will get hot and you don’t want to leave it on the whole time you are candling all of your eggs. You’re going to be pluging it in and unplugging it quite a bit. Or hook it up to a power strip and flip the switch. Either way, you need a hand for that task. You also need a hand to lift the lid of the incubator, take the egg out, and replace the lid. And a hand to turn on and off the overhead room lights so you can see what you’re doing in the incubator. Have I made my case for having someone there to help?
Step One: Lay the candler down on a flat, safe surface.
Step Two: Take an egg from the incubator.
Step Three: Plug in the candler.
Step Four: Turn off the room lights.
Step Five: Hold the egg up to the hole in the candler. Put the large end in the candler and rotate the egg until you see – or don’t see – something.
Step Six: When you’ve made your observation, turn on the room lights, unplug the candler, and place the egg back into the incubator.
How do you know if you are viewing a fertilized egg? I’m probably the last person to ask, because I don’t have a lot of experience with candling. This is what I know about candling on Day 5: If you see a red spot, it’s good. If it’s red with a spider web-type thing coming out of it, it’s good. If it’s a ring of red, it’s not good. If you don’t see anything, it’s not fertile.
There are LOTS of things the professional candler would be able to tell, such as how big the air sac is, how far along the embryo is, and if it is likely to hatch. I don’t know any of that yet.
Below is what our eggs looked like on Day 5. See the dark spot in the circle? That’s the red dot. Yup, hard to see. It’s more obvious when you see it in person.
The results: 21 eggs, 17 are definitely fertile and growing, 4 are questionable. I’ll probably candle again in a few days, maybe on the weekend.