|Newborn chick resting--Hatching is hard work!|
Candling is the process by which light can be shined into a developing egg from outside, and the word comes from the old practice of using a candle to do so. Candling is an amazing experience, especially for children. Eggs are 100% boring from the outside for 21 days, until the first pip occurs and the hatching process starts--but getting a peek with candling gives a glimpse into the fascinating goings-on inside. Candling is the perfect way to get kids excited about the incubation process when their interest may be flagging! Check out this video I found on you tube...
So I candled on day 13 and found that 11 of the 12 blue eggs (some are pure Ameracaunas, some are EEs) were definitely developing--one was unclear. I couldn't really see into the dark dark brown of the French Coppered Black Marans eggs, so we will err on the side of hope and assume they are fine until we see or smell differently.
From day 1--set day--to day 18, things need to stay pretty steady. Eggs have to be turned (tilted in different ways a few times a day and stay "big end" up (an automatic turner makes this MUCH easier) and stay at a constant temp of 99.5 to 100.5. This reflects the constants that a mother hen setting would maintain with her clutch of eggs. (Broodies do get up and off the eggs for up to a half hour at a time to eat and drink and use the bathroom, and fact that means eggs have evolved to maintain their internal temps for short periods so we can do things like candle them or, in a pinch, move them from one place to another--for example, if you lose power or a bator quits on you). A good incubator mimics a broody hen much better than a cheap one, and relieves you from having to go all "mother hen" as you cluck over constantly shifting and (dreadfully!) spiking temps and humidity.
|Hovabator Little Giant Incubator|
|Brinsea Eco 20--I love this bator.|
|Aquarium I put eggs into at lockdown for better viewing|
|Egg on far left has pipped|
|Look, don't touch, during hatching.|
Hatching. This is the exciting part! (As you watch this video, please ignore my children fighting and or screaming, or me being ever so slightly crabby/frustrated about said fussing. I don't know HOW other people manage to post videos without these "bonus" effects.) It can be hard not to swoop in and get the new babies out of the wet, sometimes stinky bator at this point, but resist the urge--any opening during hatch (after the first chick has pipped) endangers them. Baby chicks come equipped with the ability to stay in the hatcher for a couple days if needed while the others make their way out. They absorb the last of the yolk sac at the end of the hatch process, and it gives them the nutrients needed. This is how big hatcheries can ship boxes of live baby chicks--they are sent on the first day of life. So try to leave them in the bator/hatcher as long as possible. The little guy you saw hatching in the video can be seen here resting an hour or two later. Soon the incubator was overtaken with the hatching noises and excitement of three chicks hatching at once, so his nap was especially cute. Within a day or two after the first egg hatches, all the birds will be out and will have puffed up super fluffy and cute.
|Six healthy Black Java chicks|