Friday, May 21, 2010

Day 11 - Video!

Friday May 21, 2010

Incubator Temperature: 99°
Humidity 60%
Turning Eggs:
O @ 7:00 am
X @ 3:00 pm

Today we decided to take a video of one of the eggs while we were candling.  The chicks are moving now and it's so fun to see them wiggle around.

Check out our video!  Watch in the upper right of the video screen for the wing flap!

Day 9

Wednesday May 19th
6:30 am
Incubator temperature: 102° !!!!
Humidity 30%

Yikes! What happened?  We came in early Wednesday morning to to turn the eggs and found that the incubator temperature had risen to 102° overnight.  The humidity level was very low at 30%.
 
We quickly opened up the incubator to let the heat.  This should decrease the internal temperature inside the eggs.  Then we took a sample of eggs to candle to make sure the embryos were OK.

We checked white eggs : #8, #6 and #2 and brown egg #4.  All had some movement.  Whew!

Once the temperature had reached 99°, we added warm water to the incubator reservoir, and closed the lid.  We closely monitored the temperature all day.

So, why did this happen? 

Our prediction: during the night, the water evaporated in the incubator and the temperature rose.

What can we do to make sure this doesn't happen again? 
1) Make sure we have water in the reservoir at all times, especially before bedtime.  During the night the incubator doesn't get checked as often as during the day.
2) Make sure the temperature of the incubator is at 99° before going to bed.  If it's running a little high (100°), turn down the thermostat a little.
3) Check the incubator in the middle of the night.

Day 8

Tuesday May 18th

Incubator Temperature: 99°
Humidity 64%
Turning Eggs:
X @ 7:15 am
O @ 3:00 pm
X @ 11:00 pm

Day 7 - Candle Party Part II, the brown eggs

Monday May 17, 2010


After being frustrated trying to candle all 25 eggs yesterday, we decided to hold off and candle the brown Australorp eggs today.


Brown eggs are really hard to candle.  Brown shells block the light shining through.  Some of the lighter brown ones are easier to candle, but many are darker brown and are hard to see much of anything.


Candle results for the brown Australorp Eggs
Eggs positive for growing embryos: #3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13
Eggs with no signs of life: #1, 8, 12
Eggs where we can't tell for sure: #2, 7


# 8 brown egg shows a blood ring.  It's a sign of a dead and probably abnormal embryo from a fertile egg.


We'll candle all the eggs again on Day 14 to confirm our results.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 6 - Candle Party

It's Sunday May 16th.  Today's the day that we're candling all the eggs.  We're so excited!

After washing our hands, Molly, my egg helper, gets all the white Leghorn eggs quickly into a clean egg carton.  We close the incubator leaving the brown eggs behind to stay warm.  We hurry off to the dark closet with flashlight in hand, and our notebook.

We work quickly candling the eggs starting at #1.  As we shine the flashlight into the egg, uh, oh #1 looks like a dud.  No veins, just a light colored yolk.  We move on to #2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.  They all show an embryo growing!  # 8 is a favorite as it's so easy to see the baby chick growing.

# 10 and #12 are also duds--with no signs of life.

#11 has an embryo too!

So out of 12 Leghorn eggs, 9 are growing and 3 are duds.  So if we do the math, that's 75% of the white eggs are growing embryos and 25% are duds.

#11 Leghorn egg showing great growth!
See the eye behind the X ?

We quickly return the white eggs to the incubator and take about 4 of the brown Australorp eggs to candle.  Wow!  The brown eggs are much harder to candle!  Do you know why?  It's their brown shell.  It doesn't let the light through as easily.  After a few minutes struggling to see inside the brown eggs, we decide it's taking too long and we're worried the eggs are cooling off.  So we decide to candle the brown eggs tomorrow.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 5

It's Saturday May 15 and it's Day 5 of the hatch.  We know from our ChickQuest book that we should start seeing some signs of life in the eggs if they are fertile.  


We decide to candle a few of the eggs.  Candling eggs allows you to keep track of the progress of your egg incubation. First we wash our hands, then we take an egg into a dark room.  Then we shine a bright LED flashlight at one end of the egg.  This allows us to see into the egg.  




 Yay!  #4 white egg shows a beautiful spider pattern of veins that tells us the embryo is growing!


Here's a great site that has lots of info about candling eggs: 4-H Embryology 

Days 2-4

It's all about temperature, turning and waiting.

The temperature in the incubator seems to fluctuate a lot.  Too cold, the embryos won't grow, too hot and they will die.  We are fine tuning the temperature by turning the dial on the incubator. We turn the dial ever so slightly to increase or decrease the temperature.  Having a thermostat would make things much easier.


Turn, Turn, Turn. We turn the eggs 3 times a day so that the embryo doesn't get stuck on one side of the egg shell.  We are careful to wash our hands before touching the eggs.  They can pick up bacteria and die.

Waiting.  It's hard to wait and wonder if anything is growing in the eggs. 

Day 1: Tuesday May 11, 2010

The eggs have arrived!  We're ready to start ChickQuest!

With a soft pencil, we carefully numbered each egg and marked an X on one side and an O on the other.  This is so we can keep track of which side we have turned.


We weighed each egg and recorded that on a piece of notebook paper.  The white eggs weighed less on average than the brown eggs.  The smallest eggs weighed 2.0 oz and the largest was a brown egg ( #9) that weighed 2.5 oz.



We loaded the preheated incubator with the 25 chicken eggs on Tuesday May 11, 2010.  We were nervous and excited.  We felt like a surrogate mother to 25 embryos.  The temperature was 99 degrees and the humidity was 65%.  Here we go!

The Cast of Characters...














The incubator.  This is a forced air Little Giant that we borrowed from our friends, the Hanges.  The eggs will incubate in here for 21 days.  We will turn them by hand 3 times a day and closely monitor the temperature and humidity.  We're finding how hard it is to imitate a hen!















The eggs!  We have 12 white Leghorn eggs that were  donated to our 4-H club by the County Extension office.  We also have 13 Australorp brown eggs.  These eggs came from the Hange family.













Thermometers.  In order to maintain a constant temperature of 99.5 degrees  we have 2 thermometers in the incubator.  The one on the left reads the air temperature.  The one on the right is set up in a "water wiggle" that we made.  The water wiggle is a ziplock bag filled with water and rolled up.  We placed the temperature probe inside so it's very similar to what the temperature is inside the egg.  




This is the hygrometer.  It measure the humidity inside the incubator.  We calibrated the hygrometer and found it runs about 7% high.  So we make sure to subtract 7% when we write in our log book.  We can increase humidity in the incubator by adding small amounts of warm water to the incubator base where there are a number of channels that can hold water.  We usually add about 2 - 4 ounces of water each day.


This is the ChickQuest 4-H project book. Read more about the project here: 4-H Science Alive: ChickQuest















Inside the ChickQuest book. This is where collect the data each day on our incubating eggs.  It tracks the day, how many times we turn the eggs, the temperature and humidity.  It also has cool pictures of what's happening each day as the chick develops.





Sunday, May 16, 2010

Welcome!

Welcome to the Douglas Family's blog about the 4-H ChickQuest project. We are incubating 25 chicken eggs in an incubator in our home. This is the first time we have ever done this....so follow along to see what hatches!