Friday 1 April 2016

Chicks hatching.......... the final 36 hrs

"Pipped" 21.00 hrs day 20
With humans the first two minutes of life are the most precarious ( the last two are pretty dodgy too) and so it is with hatching chicks. The incubator temperature and humidity have to be just right to get them to this stage and then from day 19 of the 21 days its all change.

The egg turning mechanism is switched off, the temperature is lowered by 0.1 degrees (the chicks are generating heat themselves now) and you wait for the first egg to "pip", usually late on day 20.

 The chick now has access to the outside air, up until now it has been breathing from the air sac at the rounded end of the egg.

Once the first chick pips the humidity is increased from 45% to 60% rh because the chick is cloaked in a membrane, if the humidity is too low the membrane shrinks and becomes impenetrable more or less strangling and asphyxiating the chick as it struggles to emerge from the shell.

Hatched 1100 hrs Day 21
Each chick has an egg tooth at the end of its bill, it then uses this to chip through the shell and push it off .  then a rest is needed for ten or twenty minutes before the final heave to emerge wet and bedraggled like a mini dinosaur.

From the first egg pipping to the emergence of the last chick took 36 hrs and once they were all dry and fluffy they are transferred to the brooder with a heat lamp, water and chick crumbs.

I set 24 eggs, 3 were infertile and 5 did not hatch so the hatch rate was 66%. It was low because twelve of the eggs came by post from Ireland, the postal experience is not good for hatchability but sometimes buying on the internet for delivery by post is the only way to get new breeds or unrelated birds for breeding.

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