Happy Hatch

My lovely other half purchased me some very pricey and sought after hatching eggs lat month, and we (mostly me) have awaited the hatch day pretty anxiously. Eggs started pipping on Friday, the day Ryan was due to come home and the grandmuffin patrol was due to arrive, so it was pretty cool that they got to be here for the grand event. We had babies hatching Saturday and Sunday, and the final late bloomer finally fought its way out late Monday.

We incubated a bunch of our own eggs from our birds (including a couple from our Marans, and the dozen shipped Black Copper Marans eggs T bought for me. Buying and incubating shipped eggs is always a risk. The seller can handle them and pack them perfectly, but there’s no way of telling what sort of care they receive between buyer and seller.

Post office handling procedures and temperatures can vary greatly. Eggs can be jiggled, juggled, dropped, shaken, tossed, smashed, scrambled, X-rayed, and depending on the time of year, frozen or overheated. They can arrive perfectly packed and intact and be completely nonviable. It’s always best not to “count your chickens before they’re hatched”…but even more so regarding shipped eggs. A hatch rate on those of 50 % should be considered a raging success.

So with two of our Marans pair’s eggs, and 12 of the shipped ones, and a little over a dozen from our Reds and Aracauanas in the tray,I was hopeful but trying not to be unrealistic. For some reason, the Aracaunas are usually always first. The eggs are a tad smaller, but true to form, the first one to pip (small hole) was a blue egg. We upped the humidity in the cabinet and went to go pick up Ryan. By the time we got home, several of the brown eggs had begun to show pips, and lo and behold, one of the dark shipped eggs!

The waiting is the toughest part. Patience is not a virtue I was provided with in great heaps. The grandbabies arrived late Friday evening, and we had some progress, but still no chicks. Saturday morning, my eldest granddaughter, Teagan, got up with the sun and she and I trudged out with flashlights and Wahooooooo! We had the first of the fluffy butts scrambling around in there. We must have made twenty trips over the course of the day, and one by one, chicks started making their way out of the shells. Great fun for the kids to watch. Of course, the first thing they want to do is open the door and retrieve the new babies, but you can’t. While chicks are trying to break their way around the shell enough to “unzip” it, the humidity has to remain high. The second you open the cabinet door, all of it is sucked right out in a great big WHOOSH, and before it builds back up again, you can rather effectively shrink wrap your hatching chicks in their own shell membranes. They will dry out and stick to the chick’s fluff, acting like a super glue of sorts that prevents them from any further movement or progress.

You can safely leave them right in the incubator for up to several days after hatch, having just absorbed the rest of the yolk inside the egg, they are born with enough nutrients and hydration on board to bear that quite well, so there is no huge hurry to get them out. When doing so endangers the rest who are still trying to hatch, it’s counterproductive. Additionally, the ones who have already hatched will “help” others out of the shell, sometimes by directly pecking at it, and sometimes just the act of scrambling around over the other eggs does the trick.

Our first ever Marans chick hatched here about 2:30 Saturday afternoon. We ended up Sunday with a grand total of 16 new babies, 3 Aracaunas, 3 Black Copper Marans, and 10 Rhode Islands. We had one Marans baby expire trying to escape the shell, and one of the Reds as well. I was thrilled to pieces with the hatch rate of our own eggs, and satisfied to pleased with the shipped eggs.  Given the time of year, it’s a perfectly acceptable percentage, and I would buy from that seller again. The Marans babies from her eggs are from the french line, and were all hatched with perfectly feathered little legs and outside toes, a fantastic sign of a good breeding line. Additionally, as our first test hatch of the season, our rate on our own eggs was stellar, and well above our self restricted mark for selling our own hatching eggs. (Shipping on eggs can sometimes cost the buyer as much or more than the eggs. We won’t sell and ship them if we do not have a hatch rate in the 90’s.)

Teagan and I moved the babies from the incubator Sunday morning into a brooder box in the house for the head count and mandatory chick cuddling.  We commenced with our day, breakfast and an Easter Egg hunt for our family’s week late bunny visit. We left the additional eggs in the incubator, you can just never tell what sort of late bloomers will appear.

Monday morning as I made my rounds, I checked with the light before opening the door to turn the new tray of eggs, and there was a new pip in one of our own two Marans eggs.  Turning was postponed, and by lunch, one more fuzzy baby was in there waiting. Once it dried out, I moved it into the brooder with the rest. (And Ryan’s one older single chick from the feed store, who is too small to go outside yet.)

So our hatch was a success, there are two new trays of over a hundred eggs in there now. Ryan’s small indoor incubator with seven eggs is due to hatch this weekend. It’s a test run, the first one for that incubator, so we’re guardedly optimistic. If there’s a hatch, I should be able to get some decent photos to post , as that one has a clear domed top.

We’ve also posted the first of our new hatching egg auction line on eBay.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful spring week, and did NOT wake up, as we did yesterday, to a bunch of frozen white slop!


Author: The Fun E Farm

We're a family in a tiny map dot called Frankford, DE, on 8 acres. I read waaaay too many homesteading books and articles and my heart's definitely in the right place, although it's not always commensurate with the ages old battle between the ambitions of a mere human versus the time on one's hands and the capabilities they possess. This blog is designed to chronicle our search for sustainability and sanity (which I'm not quite sure we ever possessed to begin with), working with what we have and whatever else we can put our broke-ass hands on. Now the disclaimers: If things that happen on a farm offend you, (i.e. POOP, the use of food animals for (gasp) food, birth, death, hunting, fishing, the occasional use of colorful (to put it politely) language, the participation of tiny humans in all of the above) well, then, suffice it to say, this may not be the place for you to spend any leisure time. This blog is not intended to be an instructional tool on how to do things correctly. More often, I can assure you, it will be more of a shining example of the "stuff we tried that was an epic failure of disastrous and occasionally comedic proportions" variety. If you haven't clicked the little "x" at the top right yet, read on, brave soul! Welcome to our crazy family!

6 thoughts on “Happy Hatch”

  1. If it’s any help down here at the bottom of the world we are having very bipolar weather. It can be lovely nice and warm for most of the day and then suddenly turn to rain and freezing temperatures. Not to mention our south island has been on tornado warning. The other day was absolutely horrible when I went to work and freezing (coats, wool jerseys, gloves) right up until 2pm and then the sun came out and it was suddenly roasting hot (tshirts and shorts).

    Liked by 1 person

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