10 things you wanted to know about chickens but were afraid to ask – 4#

ASSISTING IN A HATCH

Hatching season is now upon us and if you decide to try your hand at hatching this year for the first time then the first rule of thumb is ‘sit on your hands’ during the process. Many folks find their first venture into incubator hatching doesn’t quite turn out as it should. Even if the eggs are fertile and candle well, the hatch rate is not quite the bundle of fluff that was expected. More often than not it’s the fault of the operator and not that of the eggs or the chicks.

Artificial incubation isn’t a dark art but it equally it isn’t an exact science. The bottom line is you are trying to get the incubator to the right conditions to enable the embryo to develop fully and the egg to lose 15% of its mass over the designated incubation period (21 days in chickens). Slight fluctuations in those conditions can result in earlier or later hatches and this is where as a first timer you can start to get anxious. It starts with checking the incubator, initially this is looking through the window, next its opening the machine itself (bang goes the optimum conditions when you do this and it will take time for those conditions to return). Next might be to add more water because you don’t think it’s humid enough and then finally it will picking at the shells of the eggs that look like they might have started to pip and its day 21 and thats what the instruction book says is the day the chicks hatch.

Don’t. Sit on your hands or better still go away and do something less destructive because destructive is what you are likely to be if you start to assist in a hatch. You might well break out a chick which goes on to live healthily but by the same measure you can cause leg problems (the chick needs to push itself from the egg to stretch its leg tendons) or worse still kill it by either causing excessive membrane bleed or extracting the youngster from its shell before it’s absorbed all the yolk.

Let nature take its course, some chicks hatch quickly, others slowly, and ducks are down right lazy, rarely though does your intervention in the process result in useful assistance.

This gosling died in shell however you can see the unabsorbed egg sac quite clearly

This gosling died in shell however you can see the unabsorbed egg sac quite clearly

 

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