I’ll be updating this post throughout the weekend with news about the chicken hatch. Two years ago when I hatched chicks I did the same thing. You can view that page here.
Saturday, March 29, 9:30 am
The first pip has appeared! Chicks hatch out by using their beak to break through the membrane inside the shell. They get a breath of air after breaking the membrane because the air sac, located on the large end of the egg, holds enough oxygen to help them get through the early part of the hatch. After breaking the membrane, they get the energy to break through the shell. This is called a pip. Now that this chick has pipped, it will rest a while before starting to break open the rest of the shell. Birth is an exhausting process!
There are a total of 23 eggs in the incubator. Seven of the eggs have a green shell and I wasn’t able to candle them at all because the shell color was too dark. The egg that pipped is one of these eggs. These seven eggs were put in the incubator 21 days ago, along with eight others. Eight more were added the following day, and I expect them to hatch tomorrow.
Egg #2 hasn’t shown much progress. It will move occasionally and if we peep loudly at it, it peeps back. Just now it is showing signs of breaking through more of the shell. So far no other eggs have pipped, peeped or wobbled.
Egg #2 is working its way out! This might take a short time or a long time. You never know.
Egg #2 is chipping away at the underside of the egg. There doesn’t look like there’s much action from above, but the egg is shaking and if I look closely I can see broken shell underneath.
Egg #2 has hatched! Its head is out of the shell. Now it will rest a bit before kicking off the rest.
Egg #19 has pipped.
Egg #12 has pipped. For the few who have access to the webcam, I am keeping the camera on the chick that hatched. It keeps moving around the incubator. Eggs 12 and 19 will hatch sometime this evening, and when they get closer I’ll keep the camera on them.
Here’s a photo of Egg #2 hatching, and one of it as it dries off in the incubator. It’s from the Easter Egger lot I purchased on Ebay.
Sunday, March 30, 6:20 am
When I went to bed last night I didn’t see any change in activity. #2 had hatched, #12 and 19 had pipped. No other eggs had pipped. I thought for sure I would wake up to several newly hatched chicks. I thought about sleeping downstairs next to the incubator, but decided to stay in my own comfortable bed. Good thing, because Coco the kitten slept by my side all night, which means she wasn’t attacking the incubator instead.
This morning the only chick that has hatched is still #2. Several pipped overnight though.
Currently pipped eggs:
4 (I think)
This is 10 eggs that are currently pipping and will hatch today! 10 pipping, 1 hatched, 12 additional eggs waiting for action.
Chick 2 is still in the incubator. It can live without food and water for 24 hours (some say up to 72 hours), and I’m reluctant to put it in the brooder alone. I’m waiting for another chick to go with it. I just think that for warmth and security, it should have a friend there. Hopefully I will have another chick that has hatched and dried off by this afternoon.
No new hatches yet. I just realized that there is water under the incubator on the floor. It’s either a slow leak or it’s condensation. I tossed in a wet paper towel and checked the water reservoir levels and they seem okay. The chicks need a certain level of humidity in order to keep the membranes in the eggs from hardening and sealing them inside. I don’t track the humidity level, I just try to keep the reservoirs in the plastic incubator tray full.
Eggs #18 and 19 are making progress with pecking at their shells.
I’m concerned about the humidity level in the incubator. Egg #12’s membrane was getting white and hard, and I didn’t see the hole it had poked in it anymore, so I used a paperclip to repoke the hole. It’s breathing. I added another warm, wet paper towel. Egg #19 looks like it’s getting ready to hatch. Its membrane is nice and translucent.
Egg 22 pipped.
Egg 19 hatched! It’s dark – one of Michael’s, and I’m assuming it’s a Black Australorp. It’s a big one!
Egg 18 hatched! Looks like another Black Australorp.
Here’s the status of the hatch: 3 have hatched so far. They are slow, aren’t they? I expected the hatch to be winding down by now. I think two factors are involved here:
1.) I have thought throughout the incubation time that the temperature was 1-2 degrees too low. They are supposed to be incubated at 100 degrees and the thermometer in my incubator read a consistent 98-99. There is a sticker on the lid that says something about how the calibrated temperature is usually correct, whereas the thermometer in the incubator may be off by a degree or two, so just trust the equipment… I wonder if I should have. A lower incubation temperature will lengthen the hatch time.
2.) Many of the eggs I am incubating are larger breeds, and larger breeds like to stay in the shell for a longer time.
So many have pipped and two are working their way out as I write this. I am hopeful the hatch will continue to move along.
10 eggs are currently pipping:
4 eggs have hatched: Eggs 2, 12, 18 and 19
Number of eggs that have no activity yet: 9
#17 hatched! I am so happy for this chick. I’ve been cheering it on all day. It sat for hours with its beak poking out of the shell, just peeping all day. Now chick #1 is getting ready.
Moving to the Brooder
The first two chicks that hatched have been moved to the brooder box. Some people who incubate chicks say that you should wait until all the eggs have hatched before opening the lid of the incubator and moving the chicks to the brooder box. I don’t do that. My eggs in the bator do just fine if I open the lid quickly to get a few chicks out, and I see what a difference a trip to the brooder spa does for the chicks. They dry out and fluff up so nicely under the heat lamp. It’s quiet, and the business in the brooder box the first day or two is all about sleeping, eating, drinking, and stumbling around. They get a good head start on life if they are moved to the brooder a few hours after hatching.
They went like popcorn for a while, but now things have slowed down. My guess is that 25, 23 and 7 will hatch next, but not for a while.
Egg 25 is next, I think. It’s pipping out a row underneath. Doesn’t look like much from above, but I think it will hatch in the next hour.
Egg 25 hatched. This was the first to hatch from the eight I set on Sunday, three weeks ago. This one has dark skin and black feathers! My webcam is now down for some reason.
Monday, March 31, 8:15 am
Morning update: 4 more hatched overnight. All in all, this is a slow hatch! 12 have hatched in total. We will see what today brings.
#13 hatched. The humidity in the incubator is all over the place. Sometimes the eggs are too dry, sometimes too wet. #13 still has some unabsorbed yolk attached. It is too wet. I am lowering the humidity and hopefully more will hatch. At this point only one more has pipped – #26.
Tuesday, April 1, 3:00 am
I woke up in the middle of the night so I took the opportunity to check on the eggs and chicks. The chicks in the brooder are as happy as can be. One chick is in the incubator (#13) and it is looking frisky and healthy. Two eggs are pipping: #26 is getting closer to hatching, and #27 pipped a little hole a few minutes ago. It pipped on the small end of the shell which means it could have some trouble zipping out, but the small end isn’t very small, so we’ll see what happens there.
I adjusted the humidity some more (lowered it), and I did a float test on the remaining eggs to check for viability. I could smell a bad one in the incubator and I had to know which one it was. I could have skipped the float test, as I knew immediately when I picked it up and sniffed it. I completed the float test on the remaining eggs and disposed of two in total that were not viable. I have questions about a third egg but I left it in the incubator just in case it’s a good one.
So, if these two that are pipped hatch out, I will have six eggs left to go. In theory I could have 21 chicks.
Well, if nothing else, getting up for an hour of care taking in the middle of the night makes me very tired the next morning. I may always have room in my heart for another child, but I don’t have room in my sleep schedule for one! All done with that chapter of my life!
I woke to find that #26 hatched and it is doing okay. It’s “wet” like the one that hatched before it (#13). Meaning the yolk isn’t fully absorbed into its body and the whole chick is kind of floppy. The yolk with dry off and detach and the chick will get enough energy to survive and do just fine. It will need extra time in the incubator for this process. Another egg is still pipping and although I hope it hatches soon, I know that #26 will benefit from having some time to heal alone.
No new pips yet in the eggs I tested last night/this morning for viability.
Wednesday, April 2
I have 15 chicks in the brooder, and 6 eggs in the incubator. There are no pips in the eggs. I candled them today and I am unsure of what I’m seeing. Four have distinct air sacs. Are they alive? Who knows. Tonight marks the start of day 24 for some, day 25 for others. It’s late in the hatch, but still within the realm of possibility for a hatch, so I’m going to wait and see what happens.
Thursday, April 3: Final Results
Jeff and I opened the remaining eggs today to check for viability. There weren’t any living chicks left. I cleaned out the incubator and the hatch has come to a close. I’m happy with the chicks I have: 15 chicks that are healthy. The breeds this time around are completely different than the breeds I hatched last time, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the chickens look like as they get older. I can’t wait to find out if they are male or female (I could have feather sexed them on Day 2, but I am not an expert and my expert friend was sick at that time). Most of all, I’m looking forward to getting to know the chickens and finding out more about their particular personalities.
Thanks for tuning in!