Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hey all. I'm here to report some sad news. If you've been somewhat following along, you'll notice that I've been incubating three bantam Sultan chicken eggs in the incubator. On June 12th when Pip was hatching out of egg 1, I definitely saw movement and heard peeping from egg 2. I thought I might've seen movement from egg 3 but I wasn't 100% sure. I followed what was probably some very bad online advice which was to wait for the hatched chick to dry and fluff a bit before moving them to the brooder -- about two hours. HORRIBLE ADVICE. Under no circumstances should you ever open the top of the incubator until all eggs have hatched. Chick might look bored, might look frustrated. May seem overly tired. I gave in because the chick started pecking at the top of the incubator plastic and I anthropomorphized this simple gesture to mean "Aww look! He hatched first out of the egg --- now he's trying to hatch from the incubator!"


Fatally wrong. I opened the lid to remove Pip (and I swear it was only for a half a second) but in that time, I lost enough humidity to cause damage to the other two eggs. Shortly after removing Pip from the incubator, eggs 2 and 3 stopped moving and peeping. I started to think that maybe they were resting. There were still no actual pips or breaks in either egg. Since Pip had actually hatched a day and a half early, I figured that sometime in the next 24 - 36 hours, the others should follow suit.

When I woke up yesterday morning, a full 24 hours after Pip hatched and 12 hours since I'd heard or seen movement from eggs 2 and 3, I started getting very concerned and started checking the internet. To my complete shock, while searching for terms like "incubating egg stopped rolling and peeping," I wasn't finding anything relevant to my problem. I posted threads on chicken websites, even one on Yahoo! Answers but still didn't have any luck. I couldn't find any information about chicks suddenly being quiet after peeping and rolling. Were they resting? Had they died? And why wasn't anyone answering me??!!

Finally, early yesterday afternoon I came across a website loaded with information about my very problem. While reading and absorbing as much information as I could, I began to notice that I simply hadn't searched for the right terms. The information WAS out there ... plenty of people had the same problems with their hatches. The thread was called "To Hatch or Not to Hatch" and I saw that had I searched a term like "Should I help my eggs hatch," I would've gotten thousands of responses.

The thread described how to manually assist a hatch and most said to not wait more than a few hours after the egg initially falls silent. By the time I tried to assist eggs two and three, it had been a little over 24 hours.

I was very saddened to see that eggs two and three held two perfectly formed, full-term chicks who looked no different than Pip did when she was hatched. They were darker than she is, both with some yellow and some black feathers. I felt so sad but I learned a huge lesson: when I was hatching the eggs myself it was very evident that the membrane and the chicks themselves were very very very dry. Unlike Pip who seemed to almost "ooze" out of her egg, these two would've had a very hard time breaking thru that membrane. I am guessing that in my attempt to "save" Pip from the incubator, I released too much temperature and humidity at too vital a time and because of that, I lost the rest of my hatch. Lesson learned --- I only wish I would've thought ahead to read up on what to do in an emergency. :-(

Here is a picture of the cool little Pip. I've placed ads on Craigslist and I've had many responses --- not for Pip, silly, but for two MORE day-old chicks so Pip can have some good times in the brooder rather than being all alone. I'll keep you all posted on the future adoption and check back periodically for more in the adventures of Pip!