OK, I know I said the last entry would be my last one about chicks, but I wanted to set this apart for anyone who is doing this type of project and would like to know ahead of time, what I wish we had done differently.
- I would have ordered 12 eggs instead of 36. We had never done this before and I was just thinking that a full dozen for each child would be fun. Because I turned them most of the time and they got so crammed in the Brooding Box, a dozen would have been fine. We had no idea what to expect and wanted to improve our chances of a good hatch rate. Now we know that 12 eggs is enough for us.
- When the eggs are numbered and placed in the incubator, I would have weighed each one and recorded the weight for a baseline measurement.
- I would have candled over 2 or 3 days so I could candle all of them – and done this both times we candled.
- At the second candling session, I would have weighed each egg, and weigh again the day we prepare the incubator for hatching.
- When removing hatched chicks from the incubator, I would check the level of humidity (either with a device or just by adding water) in order to avoid a chick drying inside the shell, like Flopper.
- I would try to predict, based on the weight and candling, which eggs would hatch.
- I would open the un-hatched eggs 24 hours after the last chick hatched and record the level of development found inside the egg.
That’s it, those are my recommendations. If you are getting ready to do this – HAVE FUN! We loved it and plan to do it again. If you are squeamish or don’t like to wash your hands frequently, this may not be the project for you. Even if you don’t help any chicks hatch, you will have to clean the incubator after, which will have all the broken shells and pieces of membrane strewn about. Also, keep in mind that if you don’t help one hatch who needs help, you will have to listen to it peep until it dies. Helping it is no guarantee either, you may open the shell to find blood inside, meaning it wasn’t really ready to hatch and it will die anyway. You may even find that it hadn’t absorbed the yoke and now you have a chick that isn’t fully developed and it will die, too. It doesn’t always go as smoothly as ours did. Be ready for anything.