I am way behind on posting this update, but better late than never. Back in the spring our friend Dennis (the one we met when he adopted our rooster) came on April 11th to start incubating some fertilized eggs he had from his ducks and chickens. This was the best homeschool project ever!
Dennis has been such a great friend to us. He brought over learning materials like a poster and this neat Chick Life Cycle Exploration Set that shows what the inside of the eggs look like from day 1 to 21.
We mostly left the eggs alone in the incubator other than adding water on occasion to keep the appropriate humidity levels. Once a week Dennis would come over to candle the eggs. This is what it’s called when you hold a light up to an eggs to see a glimpse of what’s inside. Egg production companies do this to look for abnormalities before packaging edible eggs into a carton for groceries stores. We did it to see the developments that the embryos were making. It was awesome! Getting to see the shadowy movement of a duckling inside of an egg is coolest thing.
The incubator has an electronic feature that automically rotates the eggs to mimic what the mother does when she’s hatching eggs. On day 18 we took out the rotator tray out because this is when the eggs need to be on a flat surface ready to hatch. The final three days of the incubation process are called “lock down”.
I had a count down on my phone and we were eggstatic (I couldn’t help myself) for hatch day!
The first “pip” finally came on Sunday (day 20) at 4:00 in the afternoon. We could hear chirping and even see some eggs wobble or a little beak poke through, but we would have to wait 20 hours from the time we saw the first pip to the time that egg actually hatched.
That meant 20 hours (with a tiny bit of sleep) where we obsessively crowded around the incubator to see the action in hopes of watching a chick hatch. This was way better than Netflix!
Sometimes we woke up to find a chick or a duckling had hatched in the night, but we were present for many of the hatchings. When the chick first cracks the egg it will turn inside the shell and peck until it creates a “zip”. Once the zip is almost full circle it will push and hatch out of the egg! This takes a ton of time and energy. It’s an important part of the process though as the chick is absorbing the yolk for nutrients and building its strength. It’s so hard to watch a chick struggle. Our nature wants to help the weak, but this is more harm than good which is also a lesson for me as a mom (I’m still learning).
I took tons of videos and time lapses of the whole process, but the files are too large for the blog. I have them on my facebook album though if you want to see the time-lapse of chick or duck hatching!
When the chicks are born they have a little “egg tooth” that is used to crack the egg open, but they loose it after a couple of days. The whole process is miraculous and fascinating.
Chicks are ugly when they first come out (in my opinion). They are all slimy and scrawny and can’t really stand upright. They get the hang of walking around pretty quickly though and then they become very playful and curious. You are supposed to leave them in the incubator until they are dry and fluffy. I was worried that their rambunctious behavior would disturb the unhatched eggs. Dennis said that’s actually a good thing, because the unhatched eggs hear and feel the activity and it gives them an insentive to come out! This was true for our little brood. Once the first egg hatched the chick went wild chirping and knocking all the other eggs around. Then more chicks hatched. They tended to hatch in sets. It was a bit of a domino effect.
In the end we hatched 12 chicks and 5 ducks, all various breeds, colors, and sizes.
The first pip was a Sunday May 2nd at 4:00 pm and we had activity all the way until the final hatch that Friday May 7th. So there were 5 full days of observing the hatches, caring for the new baby chicks, and having an amazing learning experience. We took care of the chicks and ducks in the brooder in our laundry room for the first two weeks.
We had so many visitors wanting to meet our fluffy friends. Our cousins who also homeschool got to come over and they actually adopted several of the chicks!
Dennis took the bulk of them back to his farm, including all the ducks. The ducklings were so stinking adorable, but they were messy and eat a ton so they were ready to go.
For those wondering why we didn’t keep the chicks or ducks it’s because we don’t have room for them. We live in a neighborhood and don’t have acreage or a pond. We are blessed to be able to have a coop and 9 hens, but we are all set! There was one thing I wanted to do though before we said goodbye to the babies… PHOTOSHOOT!!!
The lighting in the laundry room was not great, but I got out my professional camera and a makeshift backdrop and started clicking away.
Can you blame me?