Well, we aren’t actually counting the chickens … just candling eggs to make sure the ones in the incubator are viable – having rotten eggs explode at 100 degrees Fahrenheit is really, really smelly.
The Reluctant Farmer received a Hovabator for his birthday, and we gathered up some eggs to put in for a ‘first run test’, now that the hens are once again laying eggs. The eggs have been in the incubator for a week now, and the Hovabator is wonderfully stable – it’s much easier to keep the temperature right at 100 F than it was in the home made Eggabator (although it did work, to TRF’s credit), and the mesh wire floor over the water reservoir is easy to work with. We did run a piece of tubing through one of the holes in the lid so that we can fill the water reservoir through the tube, rather than opening the lid, as it takes a while to warm back up once you take the lid off. We also roll the eggs around by tilting the entire incubator gently, rather than precisely turning each egg by hand. Yes, we risk a few cracks, but so far, it’s working. (I’m quite certain the automatic egg turner add-on is on The Reluctant Farmer’s wish list for future gift-giving occasions.)
Today the eggs have been incubating for a week, so I got out the flashlight (cowled with a rubber band for a better seal against the egg), found a dark corner, and checked the eggs. About half were duds, which wasn’t really a surprise – we used some eggs that had been stored in the fridge, which usually bodes ill for hatching, and we only have 2 roosters right now for quite a lot of hens.
However, candling showed quite clearly the eggs that were empty, one that was filled with some really unpleasant looking splotches (that one takes my vote for “most likely to erupt in a sulfurous mess”, so I’m glad to have found it), and one with the telltale red ring indicating an infection in the chick (something I didn’t know about until I read this wonderful posting). The coolest thing, though, was seeing the little unhatched chicks moving around on their own inside the eggs! I had no idea they did that – although it makes perfect sense. It’s neat to watch.
So, we have 7 eggs with confirmed chicks inside, and 2 more that were too hard to see, so we left them in and will check again later.