Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Eggs are Incubating.

Our fertile silkie chicken eggs arrived last week.  Yippee (how exciting) and Yikes (what am I doing)?!

I've surprised myself by being quite anxious about these little chicken embryos and the responsibility of it all.  And I've been having dreams. The other night I woke up in a sweat having dreamed that one of the eggs had exploded and there were bits of skeleton all over the incubator and the eggs had no shells on them just black cacky stuff and teeny skeletons!  I'm manically checking the temperature gauge on the incubator and ticking the monkeys off if they run around nearby.  No balls in the house (never a good idea anyway), no rough stuff in the lounge room, no opening of the drawers of the cabinet the incubator is on and of course no touching the incubator!  Oh and no shouting - only whispering nice, words of encouragement to the eggs!   The monkeys of course are completely disinterested in the whole thing!  Who am I doing this for again?  Hopefully, they'll at least feign an interest if and when they hatch. 

The eggs were  posted out by Shani at Shrimani Farm.  Here I am with shaky hands unpacking them and putting them in an egg carton pointy end down to settle for 12 hours.  I had previously set up the incubator to make sure the temperature was right and remained stable at 37.7º.  With a pencil I've marked a 'X' on one side and '0' on the other so I know what I'm up to with my turning.  I'm keeping a record so I don't get confused.   I need to turn the eggs at least twice a day - and I'm managing three turns approx 8 hours apart.

But on day 3, I started to pay attention to the humidity level and got myself in a flap because it appeared to be way too high.  I had foolishly put a blanket around the bottom of the incubator and didn't realise I was blocking some air holes.  I had also filled two of the water chambers and I think I should have only filled one.  Now I know it's my own stupid fault but the instructions with this incubator were inadequate - nothing about how much water and they recommended sitting incubator on a blanket (on not around!)  Anyway, excuses, excuses.  I felt a bit sick in the tummy and posted my mistake on the Backyard Poultry Forum  and the helpful chicken fanciers (snicker) who responded thought it'd be OK.  This is an invaluable guide on all things chickens.

Anyway, for a couple of days I was faffing about and cranky with everyone.  Not only couldn't I manage to get the humidity levels right, but the temperature was sitting on 36ºC when it should be 37.7º.  All the advice is to leave the gauge alone.   And then it occurred to me to check the thermometer with the wizzy temperature gauge Monkey Man has at the front door.  Of course the hydrometer was wrong all this time!  The humidity in the incubator was sitting where it should be between 50-60% and this gadget gave me a more accurate measurement of the temperature.  One piece of advice I have learned for next time (HA!) is that you should run the incubator for a few days with some unfertilised eggs from the fridge.  I did do a test run with the incubator but not with anything in it so there's a lesson.

So now I've managed to stabilise things I think.  It's day 7 and there's 14 more days to turn and fret.  It's all a bit tricky this incubating business and I'm not expecting a huge success, but I'd be rapt if we ended up with a couple of healthy chooks at the end of it all.  And I have a back up plan if by some huge luck we end up with too many.   Roosters go to our neighbour with relatives on a farm and extra chickens go to a friend's family who are also wanting some silkies.  Wish us luck and check back for updates.


  1. I love this post! Worrisome but fun! I have hatched eggs in a classroom. It is worth the trouble. Because hatchlings imprint on the first thing they see, which was our hands, they would come running whenever we put a hand in the box. The Little Monkeys will be hooked! Some I hatched accidently 'cooked'. I used a polystyrene broccoli box with a light bulb. During the first day the children and I experimented with the lid and found that having it half covered was ideal. Someone came in after school and put the lid on. Not nice and a class full of 6 y.os who were much less concerned than me!

  2. Hatching eggs can be a bit stressful, but sounds like everything is going along just fine. It's amazing really how intuitive things are like keeping the eggs warm, and turning them regularly are, when you're a chicken. Not always so easy for us monkeys to duplicate. Can't wait to see your silkies hatch though! Fingers crossed, good luck!

  3. Good Luck, when are you "due"? I have Silkie eggs from a local girl that went in the incubator yesterday. I am addicted to it, I have 2 incubators and they're rarely empty. Plus I have a couple of broodies with chicks.

  4. Hazel, that must have been very distressing! Thanks for your message Curbstone Valley Farm. It's good to hear reassurance from people who've done it before. Greenfumb, I'm up to day 7 so still a couple of weeks to go. I'll look forward to checking in on yours when they hatch too.

  5. Good luck with them. It' so fun when they hatch and there are baby chicks to get to know.

  6. Silkies are the prettiest chooks. We had two years ago called Henny and Penny. Our Light Sussex rooster was a sweet natured and hopeless male but he would occasionally try his luck. The two little girlies would just do a "turkey" fluff effect to double their size to half of his and he'd back off, size had no relevance or power! The eggs were the most delicious I ever tasted and by upping the number to make the equivalent of four regular size eggs, I could make a sponge cake which headed skywards and tasted fantastic.


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