My daughter has been teasing me that all I ever blog about is chickens, and could I POSSIBLY be any more boring? So, I've been thinking about making an effort not to post so much about them. However, I did have something exciting happen this week, and I've had several people express interest in this post, so here goes.
I had my hen go broody a few weeks ago, but the first batch of eggs didn't hatch. My SIL wanted chickens, and I thought I'd try to hatch eggs one more time for her. I put a total of 7 eggs under Lucy. All were fathered by my Black Copper Marans cockerel. 6 were from my Easter Egger hens, and the 7th was from my white leghorn.
I candled at 8 days along, and found that the white leghorn egg was not developing at all, so I threw it out. Two of the eggs were too dark too see anything, but I was pretty sure I was seeing something in the remaining four.
I tried to not obsess too much, and only candle every few days. Considering how busy we were, this wasn't too hard.
On Saturday, I noticed the broody hen was out and about in the coop, which had me very worried. She stayed out for several hours, so I got the incubator going, just in case. Since it was so hot outside, I figured the eggs were probably ok.
On Sunday, I went to check on the eggs, and found that one had pipped! For those who don't know, a "pip" is when the chick manages to break a tiny hole in the egg. Since I wanted to properly watch everything, and I didn't trust the hen to stay in place since she'd been getting a bit fidgety. Plus, I was worried that the other chickens would kill a chick. So, I brought five of the eggs inside. The one I left outside was another one that I was pretty sure hadn't developed.
Here's a picture of my incubator with the pipped egg:
I was just sure that it was going to hatch any second, and was glued to the incubator. In a couple hours, it looked like this:
I could actually see a tiny chicken beak, and see a tiny chick breathing. Wow!! I managed to talk myself into going to bed around 11pm, after watching pretty consistently for 4 hours. I have to confess I got up several times in the night to check on it, but other than the hole getting a tiny bit bigger, nothing. During the middle of this, a second egg pipped. Wahoo! TWO chicks trying to hatch!
So, the next morning about 7:30, I check again. The hole is a bit bigger now, maybe as long as a dime. I texted my SIL to tell her that the hole was bigger (she'd come over the evening before to check it out). Then, the chick really goes to work. After I finished texting her, I look up and see the hole is twice as big:
(this was around 7:34)
Then, at 7:36:
I'm sending her these pictures, and she's freaking out, trying to hurry and get her girls ready for school so they can stop by and see.
Then, at 7:39:
She got there a couple minutes later, and we oooh'd and ahhh'd over the baby. Meanwhile, the other egg, not wanting to be outdone starting doing the same thing. By 7:55 am, a second chick was hatched, and my nieces and younger kids got to watch.
Within an hour of those two hatching, two more eggs pipped. That evening, my SIL, BIL and their kids came over. The third chick hatched obligingly for them. Still nothing from the last egg.
The fourth chick hatched around 5:30am. I know it was at 5:30 because about that time, I was woken from a deep sleep to "CHEEEEEP CHEEEEEP CHEEEEP CHEEEEP" and I was just sure one of the existing three chicks (whom we'd moved to a brooder box) was in deep trouble. I stagger out to see what's going on, and it registers that the cheeping is coming from the wrong direction. Yep- we've got a fourth chick!
I let the final two eggs incubate for another day, but then decided they were duds. I sealed each in a ziploc bag (just in case they were really smelly or exploded) and cracked them open. The egg under the hen had never developed, like I thought. The one in the incubator had started to develop, but died around day 10 or so.
Here's two of the chicks:
That evening, SIL and BIL took their babies home. I went over to their house last night, when they were 2-3 days old, and took a picture of J holding all four.