Incubating Eggs: Day 18
Written by Calliope Pappadakis   
Sunday, 26 June 2011 00:00

Eggs Day 18Our French Black Copper Marans are on Day 18 of Incubation, which is a pretty special day. At the end of Day 18, the eggs come off their automatic egg turner and are placed on the mesh below so that they can stabilize and prepare to begin pipping and making their way into this world. I am beside myself with excitement. In just a few days, we'll have at least 20 chicks peeping away, bringing new life to our micro-farm. In a few months, our egg-layers will begin providing us fresh, organic, dark-chocolate colored eggs. This specialty breed is a dual purpose bird, known for its egg size, color, and quality meat. Marans are docile, adaptable, and originally from a rainy and wet climate in France, so we think they'll do terrifically here in the valley. First, we must get through the most fragile part of the process: incubation + birth.

The contents of the table may seem rather curious: flashlight for looking into the incubator. Alcohol wipes for hands and thermometers - conditions should always be sanitary. Mason jar with turkey baster: to add water to the incubator. Thermometers of sorts - 4 altogether. Catalog with feed descriptions/ingredients. Incubator instructions. Small red frisbee used as a holding plate for thermometer and case. Also take note of my lab coat: it's important to wear smock-like garb when handling the eggs. A night gown does the trick, too.

I added water to the small holding cells in the bottom of the incubator and will probably add a shallow dish of warm water - they need 80%-90% moisture during the last few days so they can move around their eggs and begin pipping their way out. I wiped off the mesh to avoid wetting any of the eggs. As the chicks make their way out of their shells, they will hang out on the mesh for 2-3 days and wait for the rest of the brood to arrive. Since our eggs came from several different mamas over a period of 2-4 days, they will not all hatch on the same schedule.

Eggs Day 18

 

These 6 separated by our paper divide did not show much form when we candled the eggs, so we are keeping them separated so we can identify them later if they don't hatch. From what we've read, it is suggested that you later crack open the eggs, hold your nose, and examine the contents so you know the sorts of things that happens when the embryos don't form. There are some reference documents to figure out exactly what the contents indicate. I'm not so excited about this part. 2-3 of these 6 showed a small form, which may just be a blood spot, but since it's our first time, and we are treading carefully on unfamiliar ground; we don't  want to get rid of any of the eggs until we are certain they are duds. We also don't want to leave them in their two long where gases can build and bad eggs can crack and spread infection.

6 duds?

 

The eggs feel heavy, warm and alive. I can hardly believe that sweet, feathered creatures will soon emerge from these lovely dark planets.

Lifting the eggs on Day 18

 

Wee! Who will pip first?

Taking eggs off the automatic turner

 

I was never so careful making omelets or baking a cake...

Day 18 Eggs

 

By Wednesday, we should hear small cheeps coming from inside the incubator. The Earthy Cowboy is constructing a DIY brooding box under the dining room table. They'll run free in that enclosure under the warmth of two infrared lights until they are about 4 weeks old. Stay tuned for chick pics!

All the babies ready to pip