As we set up our new incubator for hatching chicks a few weeks ago, John told me, “You know the worst thing that could happen is that we only get one chick.”
“And the second worst thing that could happen is we only get two chicks…”
Tee-hee-hee. So we got two chicks.
I got an incubator used and I found out after I got fertilized eggs that it didn’t work. Side note: We have our own eggs, but we don’t have a rooster, so to hatch chicks, I had to get eggs from someone with a rooster. I was already committed at that point, so I went ahead and purchased a new incubator. The bright side is that I made a better purchasing choice on the new incubator after getting the used one that didn’t work- it made me think more clearly about what sort of incubator would work best for us. And I was able to return the one that didn’t work.
I started with 7 eggs, but with shuffling them around with the bad incubator and waiting for a new one, one of the eggs got a hairline crack.
Down to 6.
We got the incubator going and everything was humming along. Counting down the 21 days to hatch. With 4 days to go, I went to check the water level in the incubator (the eggs need high humidity). I was in a hurry, and I picked up the egg tray the wrong way.
Two eggs rolled out and went splat on the counter. It was somewhat traumatic for me because these were almost fully grown chicks. I could see them. It wasn’t just a cracked egg. I read quickly about how chicks form and learned that their lungs are the last things to form, so they won’t survive if they hatch early. The kids took it in stride, but seeing those almost formed chicks was tough for me to swallow.
Down to 4.
That night, we candled the eggs to make sure all were viable and one egg was a dud.
Down to 3.
On the day of the hatch, the kids were beside themselves with anticipation. But hatching chicks is an exercise in patience. In fact, patience is the hardest thing about it. The chicks don’t generally just break out of their shells. They pip and stop. Pip and stop. Wait 8 hours. Then there’s a little more action.
One chick took 12 hours to hatch fully. The next one came out from first pip to full hatch within 10 minutes. And we had two chicks.
The first chick to start pipping didn’t do anything more for 24 hours. Then it pipped a little more. At 36 hours, there was a big opening in the egg, but nothing more was happening. The chick was not alive. When we pulled all the shell off, we could see that it had something wrong with its stomach.
Now we have to figure out what to do with just 2 chicks. The tricky thing with chicks is that different ages must be kept separate until they are fully grown because big chicks will pick on little chicks. Whatever! For now the kids have adopted them as pets anyway! And hatching eggs is a miracle and an awesome thing to watch. Not a waste by any stretch.
A couple days ago, I got 24 fertilized eggs and I’m going to start a big batch. Hopefully we’ll do better this time!