With the massive failure of the last hatch possibly being due to inadequate turning of the eggs I decided to do a little “eggsperiment” before our next incubation to determine what the proper number of eggs per section is for the best turning. In case you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, here is a picture inside our incubator. When I say each section I am discussing the 8 triangles that go around the incubator.
I got a carton of cheap store eggs and marked each egg around its axis with the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4. I went the same direction on each egg. This would help me determine how much turning was happening very precisely to the quarter of an egg. Granted, these were store-bought eggs and therefore were very uniform in size and possibly a bit bigger than the eggs we hatch, but I still felt I would get a good idea of what works and what doesn’t.
I have read that some people can only put 4 eggs per section for adequate turning, the directions say 2-3 is too few, and we personally put 6 in our last batch. So I decided to test 2, 4, 5, and 6 per section. I put them in there, with all number 1s straight up. I then checked them every ten minutes for two hours, marking on a paper what position each egg was in. Thank goodness for cell phone alarms or I would have never been able to accomplish this. You would be shocked at how fast 10 minutes goes by when you are a busy mom, wife, and farm girl. The alarms kept me checking and writing in down every 10 min.
My conclusions from this are that 2 eggs in a section are definitely not turned enough. And in my experiment neither were 4 eggs, and actually with 4 eggs I had two eggs get pushed to a position with their tips up (a BIG no no with incubating eggs). 5 eggs in one section seemed to get the best turning.
Now, what about 6? Did inadequate turning cause the failure of our hatch? I found that with 6 in the section certain eggs got “adequate” turning and certain ones did not get as much turning, though it still seems to me it was enough. Interestingly, the one egg we had successfully hatch was in the position in the section that gets what I consider the least adequate turning. Which to me indicates that even the positions that didn’t get what I deem to be enough got enough to be successful.
This leads us to believe that inadequate turning did not cause the failure. So it must have been nutrition of the breeding stock, inbreeding, or the handling/shipping of the eggs before incubation. Another thing that occurred to me to have possibly been an issue, even though it isn’t listed on any websites anywhere, is altitude. These eggs were laid in Florida. practically sea level. They were then sent here to Colorado and up into the high mountains at about 8,000 feet elevation. Maybe that huge of a change can negatively affect eggs. Either way, I will be steering clear of shipped eggs from now on!
We are planning to put 5 eggs per section on the incubation we start next week just to be sure that we are doing every possible thing for success. We will see how it turns out.