Monday, October 25, 2010

How to Not Hatch An Egg

Life is good. I am very happy. Things are going well. Well, except for the fucking eggs.

We lost some eggs in the rains, but it's alright. We did the best we could but they just never hatched. The silkies appear to be doing well, but we'll see in another two weeks or so. I appear to not be so great at this egg hatching thing. It's a learned skill.

It's actually quite a bit more difficult than you think, egg hatching. First your chicken must be broody for it to sit on eggs or you need a pretty reliable incubator. Oh boy does it suck when it unreliables on you. And did you know your chicken can destroy the nest, eat her own eggs (yes, she ate one), hide some eggs entirely from you and then just walk away from nearly hatching babies and let them all die? Yeah well, I didn't either.

So I spent a good day spazzing around trying to fashion a heat box out of an ice box (sorry mother, I owe you another one) and manage the heat to a nice 100F, which is a good middle ground. Later on, you have to start switching shit up.

Oh and you have to turn the eggs. Like, 3-5 times a day and each night the egg has to be facing a different direction upwards. Or the chicken will not form properly and die. If the temperature goes to 102, the chicken will overheat and die. If the temperature goes to 98, the chicken will cool too much and die. If the humidity goes too high, the chicken will stick to the shell and die. If the humidity is too low the chicken can't break through the egg and will die. If you turn the egg after 18 days, the chicken will die. If you bump the egg a little too hard, the chicken will die. All of these are variable, as well. If you turn up the heat you might just get 5 retard-o chickens with gimpy wings.

And I had to learn all of this in about, oh, five freaking minutes. When I realized my stupid chicken had destroyed her nest and my second chicken had just up and decided not to be clucky afterall. You know, the day after I ordered a further 9 eggs. Thanks, assholes.

But then you have to candle the eggs. But not after the 18th day! That'll....make them die. Oh, and if you candle them with the air-pocket face down, they might die. So you must always candle with the big end of the egg up. Which is harder than doing it with the big end of the egg down. Brown eggs are just a bitch and blue eggs just make you wanna rip your hair out. Duck eggs are surprisingly easy.

Anyway you get a super bright light and a super dark room and hold the light up to the egg and move it around (gently!) until you find your baby.

This is kinda when I realized my chickens had been dead for days. There were bad rains and we think that's why the hen destroyed her nest. Or maybe I killed them. Or maybe they commited suicide for no reason. Oh yeah, no, one egg did do that. One egg of all 8 made it to 21 days and then... just decided not to hatch. It broke into the air sack, but nope, it just went, "Yeah okay that's good," and killed itself. Fucking chickens.

So it's day 26, 5 days overdue (too high of heat can also make them early and too low can make them hatch late) and that's too many, so the eggs went in the bin. Candled the silki eggs and they're living. One duck egg wasn't fertilized and another duck egg is growing a little duckers. It's about the size of my pinky nail right now, with a bunch of little veins coming off of it. It's a Silver Swedish duck, so it should be ready in 27 more days.

We're buying an incubator (proper one) after the wedding. I've gotten this heat/humidity thing down, but I'd just feel a lot safer around suicidal eggs if I had one. And to think, there's women out there who've hatched a dozen eggs in their boobs. No joke. Next time, I'm hiring my friend cAt to be my hen.

Current Score:

0/8 eggs hatched
9 silkie eggs incubating
1 duck egg incubating


  1. did you use a thermostat hun? i also used an old icebox for my snakies bit had a thermostat wired up. most of the same challenges applied, bar the rotation one, that is weird. With snake eggs, you have to make sure the top always remains facing the top (esp when moving to incubator) otherwise you kill them. but i guess if you plan on hatching alot, a proper thermostat will take a bit of the work out. i only had 1 batch (of 20) a year to deal with.

    and wtf, did you say boob hatching!!!!??!?!?!?!

  2. I used a thermostat, yes. I had the temp/humidity perfect except for one day where it got too hot. There's a chance they died then, but I can't really tell without opening them since on the last few days the candling looks pretty much black and white.

    And yep! Apparently titties are the EXACT right temperature and humidity to raise bird eggs!

  3. how DO people find these facts out... "hey, ima gonna try hatch some eggs in my boobs.... for science"

  4. It was probably more, "I'm an agricultural scientist. How can I work seeing boobs into this?"