Saturday, November 8, 2014

# 535 - Incubator Chicks Hatching!

This past week, we have been shocked to find that our first attempt at using the incubator has been a success! We actually had hatchlings this week!

The first chick to start pecking through an egg brought me tremendous excitement. WHAT? It's really working?!

This egg is the first to have a chick start to hatch. Sadly, this chick
was obviously hatching prematurely, and this chick died after the first
24 hours following hatching.
Of course, we had a couple of eggs that didn't make it. We had to candle the eggs, which is really easy to do, then take out the eggs that did not contain a growing chick.

But, we missed this one, and it soon began to be a potential mess, so I removed it quickly.

After a while, I could see that the first egg that had begun to hatch was having problems. Soon, the chick behind it began to hatch.

To my surprise, the second hatching chick would be the first to fully hatch. The concern for the first chick that was trying to hatch became more intense. The chick was peeping loudly from the first egg that was not making progress, as hour after hour passed.

I also knew we needed to remove the egg holders, so we did it quickly because I was scared it would hurt the chicks.

The process of hatching seems to go like this, in my experience...I first heard peeping, which scared me as I looked around the room carefully and then it dawned on me that the sound was actually coming from the incubator, even though the shell had not yet been cracked. The chicks peck an initial hole, then they make a "zipper" line, and if all goes well, the chick pushes the top of the shell upward with a burst of mighty strength and then they are BORN!

The chick works to hatch itself, then falls asleep, then suddenly perks
up and wiggles around, then falls back asleep. It is precious.

However, this in an exhausting process for the chick, it will peck for a while, then sleep, then peck, then sleep, and it can take a few hours. Then again, there are other chicks, as our third chick, who pecked the initial hole and was fully hatched with ten minutes.

Since we had no idea these eggs would be hatching, Sgt. Dave and I had no choice other than to work very quickly together to get the egg-rotator out of the incubator. I carefully cradled the chick so that it would not be pulled any direction that would affect hatching, he took out the rotator and I carefully laid the hatching chick back on the grate for it to finish its hard job of being born.

I must say, it was an unexpected, yet amazing experience to hold a hatching chick, but not one I want to do again. It was completely nerve-wracking, but I didn't want the chick to be caught in between the rotator trays. Back in the incubator, after another hour or so, it hatched face down and fell back asleep as we cracked up.

Sweet baby.

This chick would be the first to hatch and is now strong and healthy!

This is how an egg shell looks after a chick hatches from it...the top of the shell that is white is the air bubble area where the chick's head had been and is the zone for it to start pecking the zipper.

The other 2/3rds of the egg shell had a membrane that had blood vessels, kind of like a placenta. This membrane holds the chick's blood circulatory system until the final stage of hatching as the chick develops its own vessel system and the blood can be absorbed into its own body. This is fascinating to me. There is also a yolk sac at the bottom of the chick's body that is absorbed before hatching and that provides nutrients so the chick can recover from hatching over the next 24-48 hours...this egg yolk goes into the body of the chick and the abdominal hole is closed. If this process is not complete before hatching, you will likely have a chick that won't survive. You can see the "umbilical cord."

God's plan with nature is so incredible! I'm glad we had an incubator to help it along.

The little black feathered chick was the first to crack the shell and to zip, yet it was still in the shell nearly 24 hours later, with its peeping becoming more faded and weak. I researched the matter and found that chicks can literally get stuck in their shell. I checked the egg and found the area that the chick zipped was as hard as glue...the chick and the shell felt as if glue had dried everything in place. The solution was to slowly and gently rub warm water on the area and to even use Neosporin to keep the area moist and hydrated because the water will still eventually evaporate. I had Neosporin and helped the chick out a bit so it could move again.

Even with the assistance it needed; the fact that the chick needed ANY assistance was a really bad sign. After the chick came out, the yolk sac was still attached and to make a long, horrific process short, I will say that the egg sac suddenly filled to enormous proportions and I knew that the internal parts of the chick had prolapsed...the intestines were soon visible.

It broke my heart. The chick lived about 24 hours. It was a very difficult Farm Life Lesson.

All I could do was make the chick as comfortable as possible and to keep it protected from the healthy chick pecking, especially because we had a third chick making a rapid hatch.

As the third chick hatched, the strong, dried out, found-its-legs chick was in a pecking mode, so I put the newly hatched chick into the bowl with the chick that was struggling. This seemed to work out. Soon, the newly hatched chick could join the other strong chick.

The good thing is that out of the first three chicks we have ever hatched with the incubator, two are thriving.

I am very grateful these two chicks have each other as cuddle-buddies.

This Farm Life Lessons chick loves those two little fuzzy chicks!


LindaG said...

Awesome! Congratulations, Lana!
What kind of incubator did you use? I've often though one with an automatic rotator would be best.
Or a broody hen.
I think two for a first time is great.
Have a blessed Sunday. ♥

Lisa Murano said...

So cute! Congratulations on the new babies!


Karen said...

Hi Lana, wow, how exciting! I've never hatched incubator chicks, but we've given fertilized eggs to a brooding hen to hatch. When we used to get 50 Leghorn chicks for meat birds, we always had to have a red light heat lamp on them to stop them from pecking. All they have to see is one spot of blood and oh, what a horror story. Still, there is nothing cuter than a fuzzy new chick.

The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

How very cool! Way to go!!! I hope they have healthy long productive lives with you.

The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

How very cool! Way to go!!! I hope they have healthy long productive lives with you.