It is always fun to post about things that go well. Unfortunately, in real farm life not everything goes well all the time. To truly share our journey with you I have to post the not-so-fun things as well. This post is one of those.
Something went terribly wrong with our hatch. 😦 It has been very hard for me, despite being used to death being a part of farm life.
As I said before, the surprise egg died. But this was somewhat expected due to the circumstances surrounding that egg. From what we can tell, it died about day 19 so it didn’t even try to hatch.
Then Tuesday the first of the four remaining eggs pipped. Two of the other three were wobbling so we thought they were soon on their way too. 12 hours later the first egg unzipped and kicked out of her egg. We had our first chick! This one was the one that came from our friends’ flock.
We left it in the incubator overnight to dry, fully expecting to wake up to more pips. The next morning, however, there were no more pips. The two eggs that were moving a bunch the day before were now barely moving and the one was still very still. We candled them. Two alive, one dead. 😦 We opened the dead one carefully trying to determine the cause. It was mal-positioned. The head wasn’t by the air sac like it needed to be. Over the next 12 hours the other two eggs died as well, and when we opened them we found the same problem…mal-positioned with their heads at the small end of the egg. One had even tried to pip but was unsuccessful. So, so sad. 😦
So what happened?
I have spent hours scouring the internet trying to figure out what happened. I do not want to incubate again if I don’t know if something I did caused this because then I will just make the same mistake again. Here is what I know to be true:
My humidity was just right. I know this because my air sacs were the proper size, indicating the humidity was fine. So it wasn’t the humidity.
My temperature was just right. I know this because the egg that survived hatched perfectly on day 21. Also, I monitored and recorded the temperature of the incubator with two different thermometers the whole time and it was almost always right at 99.5F, with very few, very slight differences.
That leaves turning. Were the eggs turned enough? As I stated in this post, I put 7 “infertile” eggs into the incubator with “x” marks on them two days before incubation to monitor that they were turning. Yes they were turning. I didn’t think much else of it. However, now that I have been researching so much I found some people on a forum discussing our type of incubator. The incubator directions say that the triangle sections of the incubator need to be full to have proper turning. It also said “do not overfill.” So I put 6 eggs in each section. They turned, and they didn’t feel overcrowded to me. However, on these forums some people are saying that they can only put about 4 per section to achieve proper turning and any less gives turning, but an inadequate amount. When the eggs were 16 days old and I moved the surprise egg to its own box so it wouldn’t get turned I left only 5 eggs in the section for those last two days of turning. I DID notice that they seemed to be turning a lot more than before.
However, the one egg did position fine and hatch fine. So it seems it was turned adequately. I do not think that turning is the likely cause of this issue, however, just to be safe, we will be putting 5 eggs per section in the next hatch and I will be monitoring turning VERY closely.
The final options I have found for the cause of this seem the most likely to me, since the one egg that was from a flock we know, and local, did fine. Those two causes are inadequate nutrition of the breeding stock/other breeding stock problems, and shipped egg problems. I don’t know what the status of this flock was because I purchased the eggs online. But it is possible that had to do with it. I heard that another person was having the same issues with this breeding stock having a very bad hatch rate. We DID have air cell issues with the shipped eggs when they arrived. I put them tip down for 24 hours to help with that. We did not have moving air cells, just mal-formed ones.
So, after a lot of research and a LOT of contemplating we have come to the conclusion that the cause was mostly shipping of the eggs. And then we are considering that it might have been turning and will be more careful with that next time.
It is such a bummer, and has not been very fun. But we are trying to learn as much as possible from the situation and prevent it from happening in the future. We are also trying to focus on what a blessing the little one that survived is. When I called my friend and told her that only her egg hatched she said we should keep it to help comfort us with all this loss. So here is the newest, floofy legged (her father is a cochin), addition to our flock.
We did not think it would go well to just incubate one chick alone. It would be like solitary confinement, and no one should have to do that. We figured it would greatly decrease her survival chances, not to mention it would be just sad. We have had enough sadness the last couple of days. So this morning I went to the feed store and bought a little friend for our chick. The chicks at the store were a full week older than this one, so I wanted to pick a small one so that we hopefully wouldn’t have bullying. The guy at the store was waiting for the person who knew chickens to arrive and didn’t know what breeds they were. So I just picked the smallest breed and told him to call me when they could tell me what I had gotten. Here she is:
I got the call and they told me she is a Salmon Faverolles. Whoohooo! A kind of cool rare breed, that will be fun. I looked them up online and was very happy to see that this bird possesses many of the characteristics we are selecting for and will be a great addition to the breeding flock. What a blessing!
They are not best friends yet, but they are getting along well and the chick we hatched seems much more peppy now that she has a friend.
We were trying to figure out two girl names that would work well, names that were girls who were friends in history, or literature, or movies etc. We decided on Ruth and Naomi (Ruth being the brown one and Naomi the light one). Granted, we don’t know for sure that they are girls, but we figured we could change one of them to Boaz if we have a boy. 🙂 Two boys will probably necessitate a whole new plan.
I did attempt to feather sex the brown one after it had dried after hatch. I’ve never done it before, so this is just a new learning thing for me. But I am guessing it is a girl. I think I saw two rows of feathers.
So where do we go from here?
Well, first of all, a few weeks ago I agreed to incubate eggs for our friend once this hatch was done. We have discussed with her what happened and she still wants us to go ahead with the incubation. So next Monday we will be starting our second incubation. It will be interesting to see what happens. These eggs are local and will not have been shipped. We are hoping that we are right in our conclusions and the next hatch goes very well. We have to keep trying if we want to learn how to do this.
Secondly, we are contemplating possibly adding a few chicks to these two we are brooding. We figure we are brooding anyway, if we want to add anymore breeds to our flock before we really get going with our breeding program, now is the time. We really had our hearts set on these Dark Brahmas that we tried to hatch. They have all the qualities we are looking for and would add some great stuff to our program. So we might order some through our feed store and add them to the brood next week. OR, now that we have read about this Salmon Farvolles we just got we are seeing that they have a lot of good qualities too so maybe we should just go get some more of those from the feed store today. OR, maybe we will just stick with these two chicks and proceed forward without any new stock. The jury is still out on this decision. 😉