Expert Tips for Incubating Chicken Eggs
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Preview the progress
Candling is a process that allows you to determine whether your eggs are developing correctly after seven to 10 days of incubation. Candling takes a bit of practice to get right, but it is a great way to monitor the progress of your eggs.
Although you can purchase devices designed specifically for candling eggs, all you really need is a bright (preferably LED) white-light flashlight and a dark place. Ideally, the end of the egg should “seal” against the light – if your flashlight lens prevents this from occurring, you can make an adapter tube out of cardboard, or cut a hole in the lid of a cardboard box sufficiently small that it will cradle one end of the egg and hold it upright. A lamb nipple with the end cut off and pulled over a good pen light also works well. In any case, illuminate the egg (from below in the box setup) and look for a web-like network of blood vessels surrounding what is obviously a chicken embryo (by seven days you may notice embryo movement).
Clear space and a yolk, or a ring of blood (vessels are good, the blood ring is just a single ring), indicate that the egg was not fertilized or that it died during the early stages of development. Note: It’s not unusual to lose up to 50 percent of the eggs you initially set depending on the quality of the eggs, the incubator model you use, and your diligence and skill. Eggs that aren’t developing properly should be discarded because there’s a higher risk that they could explode in the incubator – that’s a mess with which no one wants to contend.
Once the chicks hatch, you can leave them in the incubator or hatcher for a day or so before moving them to the brooder. Newly hatched chicks obtain sufficient energy from residual yolk that all they really need for the first couple of days of life is a warm environment – so there’s no need to rush them to the brooder.
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