This was my first official attempt at hatching chicken eggs. I used a Little Giant incubator, with no fan, but with an auto egg turner. Temperature was kept at 99.5 degrees as much as possible, and humidity was kept rather low (called a dry hatch) at about 35-40 percent. After 21 days, here’s what happened:
This tiny break in the shell is called a ‘pip’ (above pic). The baby chick has broken through the inner membranes to make a tiny hole, and to put a tiny crack in the shell. Baby chicks will remain in this phase for as long as a day. You have to remember that the chick has been scratching non-stop for hours with the tiny ‘egg tooth’ on their beak to get to this point. They need some rest!
Here’s the next phase. The chick has now opened up the pip and is enlarging the hole. He’s getting ready to…..
ZIP! This is my favorite part of the hatching process. You can see that his sibling is eagerly awaiting his arrival. The ‘zip’ stage is where the chick literally zips all the way around the egg. This part goes fairly quickly. That baby chick is READY to get outta there now.
The chick shoves the zipped eggshell as hard as he can, and:
He’s out of there! Now it’s just time to dry off, which takes several hours.
My hatching percentage wasn’t great at all…likely due to the fact I was inexperienced with hatching bird eggs (I have hatched reptile eggs 100% in the past). This time around, I am trying a higher humidity level since I went and checked humidity with a hygrometer under a brooding hen and found it to be around 60%. I’m currently setting more eggs at 99.5 to 100 degrees with the humidity around 50-52% and at the 2 week check, which was yesterday, I only had 2 eggs not develop further after my Week 1 check, so I’m excited! Right now I have 11 ‘Easter egger’ eggs and 4 Silkie cross eggs.
Here are more post-hatch images:
Here is the shell after a good hatch. There are 2 inner membranes in the shell. The first one closest to the chick contains the blood vessels which have sustained the chick in utero, if you will. It is a very thin, clear membrane. The next membrane is a tough, whitish membrane. If the chick takes too long to hatch, this membrane will dry out too much, causing the chick to suffocate/die in the shell. This is another reason why correct humidity is so critical. You’ll see that there is a little pink…this is just where the vessels were. The chick absorbs the blood which was in them during the hatching process. This is why you CANNOT just peel a chick who is almost ready to hatch out of the shell. Doing so will cause massive hemorrhaging and death to the chick. I have ‘helped’ some chicks hatch, but it is an extremely slow, delicate procedure that must be done in gradual phases, over the course of many hours.
Now here’s some cute and fluffy pics of the chicks at a few days old. The black chicks, which are Barred Plymouth Rocks, are not the ones I hatched myself.
And, how do YOU do?
A very special thanks to the Swanson family for allowing me to hatch their eggs!
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