Care of hatching eggs

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Robbie
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Care of hatching eggs

Post by Robbie » Sun Jan 03, 2016 11:59 am

Selections from: Bulletin #2072, Hatching Your Own Chicks
Maine Poultry Facts Developed by Professor Emeritus Robert O. Hawes http://umaine.edu/publications/2072e/

Nutrition plays a major role in egg fertility and hatchability. Some feed companies offer a “breeder ration” that will be slightly higher in protein than the ordinary layer rations and also higher in certain amino acids, notably lysine and methionine. Vitamin/mineral mixes may be purchased from the poultry supply houses to supplement the ordinary layer rations—these are useful when keeping purebred, exhibition stock. Breeder birds should not be fed high amounts of fattening feeds such as whole corn or rations designed for broilers. This is especially true for waterfowl. Birds on range or on grass runs will generally have a higher rate of fertility and more vigorous embryos due to their increased exercise and their access to plant and insect material.
Making the mating
Sperm cells can be successfully stored for days or even weeks in the female oviduct. In domestic fowl, fertility levels will start to decline about seven days after a successful mating or insemination. Fertility may persist for as long as three weeks in chickens, but on average lasts ten to fourteen days. When switching males in a pedigree program, spermatozoa from a new mating will tend to dominate over those of the first male; however it’s best to wait two weeks before saving eggs from the new male. Turkeys have a much longer fertile period and one insemination may last as long as four weeks.

Care of Eggs
For home production, a successful hatch starts at the nest box by providing females with clean, dry nests. In the northeast, soft pine shavings are the general choice for nesting material, while chopped hay or straw also works well. Don’t allow birds to roost in the nests at night, and remove any wet or soiled nest material immediately. Waterfowl eggs are especially difficult to keep clean.
Even so, you shouldn’t wash eggs unless it is really necessary. Slightly soiled eggs can be cleaned with dry sandpaper. If the egg is valuable and washing seems necessary, use a mild detergent and a water temperature that is warmer than the contents of the egg. Using warm water will cause the contents of the egg to expand and prevent the entrance of bacteria. Heavy scrubbing damages the cuticle and may push bacteria into the pores of the shell, which can lead to infection when the egg is incubated. Don’t submerge eggs in the wash water, and do allow them to air dry. Washed eggs should not be held more than a few days to reduce the entrance of bacteria. Eggs that are heavily soiled could be boiled up, chopped, with shell, and fed back to the flock. (No, this won’t cause egg eating; they don’t recognize the cooked egg as their own.)
Collecting eggs
Broodiness in a hen is not a virtue to be prized if you will be using an incubator. When a hen becomes broody, her estrogen levels drop, which will slow—or even stop—her egg production. A broody bird could be out of production for a few weeks. Broodiness not only reduces egg numbers, but fertile eggs will start developing if warmed for only a few hours under a broody hen. Development starts at temperatures between 68°F and 70°F: this initiation of development will reduce the viability of embryos during storage, leading to higher mortality when the eggs are placed in the incubator.
Storing eggs
After collecting, store eggs in cartons or cases, large end up, at 50°F to 60°F with a relative humidity of about 75 percent. Hatching eggs should be incubated within a week to 10 days after they are laid. Hatchability declines rapidly when incubation is postponed for more than 10 days. Some work has shown that eggs do better at temperatures of 58°F to 60°F for holding periods up to seven days, but that temperatures of 50°F to 54°F are better if eggs will be held for more than seven days. When the eggs are stored for more than seven days before incubation, turn them daily so the yolks won’t stick to the shells. Begin by propping up one end of the case or carton; each day, change the position of the block, or turn the container end for end.

If you will hold the eggs for several days, place the full egg cartons in a plastic bag to reduce evaporation, leaving the bag unsealed. Some claim that eggs should be warmed at room temperature for 24 hours before being placed in the incubator. For eggs held more than seven days there is an advantage to warming them, but for less than seven days the results are less positive.

When selecting eggs to incubate, choose those that are a typical, elliptical egg shape. Reject eggs that are unusual in shape, such as those that are long and narrow, round, or flat-sided. Likewise eggs with thin and brittle or pebbly shells should be rejected.
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baronrenfrew
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Care of hatching eggs

Post by baronrenfrew » Sat Feb 06, 2016 10:25 am

One note to add to this. Mark eggs with a pencil and not pen or marker... the ink will go through the shell and poison the egg/embryo.
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Farrier1987
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Care of hatching eggs

Post by Farrier1987 » Sat Feb 06, 2016 10:59 am

Thanks for that good information. I brood, not incubator. I have set eggs that are still warm, laid that day. Do you know if they need to cool down and then get rewarmed? I have also set eggs that were in the fridge for a day or so, and they hatched, thought I am sure this is not a preferred way. And yes, mark the eggs with pencil when the hen is setting in the box, as other hens will go lay eggs there too. You started with seven eggs? A day later there are nine, how do you tell which are the originals? Look for the un marked ones. Crayola crayon works too, no poisons, but not too much, will seal pores.
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Killerbunny
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Care of hatching eggs

Post by Killerbunny » Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:08 am

I have also set eggs that were stored in a fridge and it worked just fine! I don't do it routinely but my old girl stopped cooperating so I grabbed some extras from the fridge.
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Care of hatching eggs

Post by Ontario Chick » Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:25 am

Farrier1987 wrote:QR_BBPOST Thanks for that good information. I brood, not incubator. I have set eggs that are still warm, laid that day. Do you know if they need to cool down and then get rewarmed? I have also set eggs that were in the fridge for a day or so, and they hatched, thought I am sure this is not a preferred way. And yes, mark the eggs with pencil when the hen is setting in the box, as other hens will go lay eggs there too. You started with seven eggs? A day later there are nine, how do you tell which are the originals? Look for the un marked ones. Crayola crayon works too, no poisons, but not too much, will seal pores.
Eggs do not need to cool down, if you are setting them the day they were laid.
If eggs cool down they go in to dormancy, so the hen has enough time to collect a clutch and start to develop when the hen sets on them in earnest, that way they all hatch at the same time, more or less. ;)
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Farrier1987
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Care of hatching eggs

Post by Farrier1987 » Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:42 am

Also meant to mention that Robbie's advice on boiling and mashing up the eggs is really good the first few days after they hatch. That along with my chunk of upside down sod and a little water is all they need when the mother hen is showing the way. I try to stay away from chick starter when I can, specially the medicated kind. And yes, I lose the odd chick, but that's why they have more than one at a time.
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Farrier1987. South of Chatham on Lake Erie. Chickens, goats, horse, garden, dog, cat. Worked all over the world. Know a little bit about a lot of things. No incubator, broody hens.

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