Easter Chicks

Happy Easter! To me the coming of Easter also signals the coming of spring. This spring has been a little off to say the least. Normal seasonal events have changed and evolved but we are adjusting. The kids still enjoyed coloring eggs and hunting for their Easter baskets exactly like they have in previous years. Rather than having a large family celebration and egg hunt we will be having a small egg hunt in our own yard this year.

kimg0768I usually hatch chicks with the 4th grade but this year due to our home-boundness (I may have made up that word) we are hatching chicks at home. It has been fun to share the incubation process with my children, and nieces and nephews. They have followed along with daily growth, listened to various chick stories, and made scientific hypothesis as to how many chicks would hatch.

We placed 37 eggs in the incubator on our first Science Saturday. Our second Saturday was held via Google Hangouts and we read a chick book and worked on a few pages from a Chick Hatching booklet I found online. For our third Science Saturday which was day 14 of chick development we candled the eggs to see if they were developing. We took 5 eggs out of the incubator that were not fertilized. The kids really enjoyed seeing the veins through the shells and the chick developing. Day 18 was not on a Saturday but it was the day the eggs needed to be taken out of the egg turner so we held that science lesson via Google Hangouts.

I was a little worried that the eggs might not hatch at all because my incubator is getting a little old and the temperature was fluctuating more than normal. The last two years I have had to turn it up so the interior temperature would remain at 99.5. It was acting the same way except for one day it got really hot inside. I noticed the thermometer was reading about 102 which is almost hot enough to cause chick death. It took awhile for it to level out again and I was worried we would not have any eggs hatch. I re-candled them on day 18 to see if they had developed any since I candled them before. I took 2 out that looked as if they stopped developing but I was hopeful because it looked like more development had taken place. My darling husband said it was because I had “hard boiled” them.kimg0767

On Friday which was day 20 of chick development we had a sleepover with a few of my nieces and nephews so they could watch the chicks hatch. One chick hatched before they we here and I was thrilled that I hadn’t cooked them. Everyone was super excited to watch the “miracle of life” as my sister said. Everyone was able to watch a chick hatch and to transfer a fluffy chick from the incubator into the brooder box.

Before they left Saturday afternoon 10 chicks had hatched. This morning we have 21 healthy chicks and one more that is struggling to hatch. Percentage wise this may be our best hatch-out yet. 21 chicks out of 30 viable eggs gives me a 70% success rate which I think is pretty good.

kimg0765We are helping the last one to hatch by peeling back it’s shell a bit at a time hoping it will pop out soon. Every once in a while we help a late hatcher come out of it’s shell but many times the chick is malformed or will die the next day. I hope it will be healthy so we can add it to the box with it’s siblings.

The kids had fun with this project and I was glad we were able to enjoy it as a family. Although I didn’t actually plan for the chicks to hatch on Easter it is nice to hear Easter chicks peeping in the house.

I hope everyone has a Happy Easter!

Ducklings Are Here!

We have new additions to our little funny farm. The ducklings have hatched!

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My sister brought me three dozen duck eggs a little over a month ago for me to try hatching duck eggs in our incubator. I did a little research and Lucian and I loaded them into the egg turner.

A few fun facts about duck eggs:

  1. Duck eggs require a little more time to hatch then chicken eggs. Chicken eggs hatch at 21 days whereas duck eggs hatch at 28 days with the exception of Muscovy ducks which take 35 days.
  2. They require extra moisture. Starting at about day 10 until day 25 the eggs either need to be sprayed with water or dunked to keep them moist enough. Think wet duck feathers setting on eggs in the wild.
  3. Duck eggs need to be cooled off a bit each day starting at day 10 until day 25. I let them cool a bit at the same time I wetted them. Two birds with one stone.
  4. Ducklings take longer to hatch then chicken eggs. I was concerned about this. I had about 7 eggs with cracked shells for DAYS! Chicks usually hatch within a day after the shell starts cracking. Apparently duck egg shells are much harder than chicken egg shells.

I started out with three dozen eggs at day 10 Lucian and Fiona helped me candle the eggs. There were 7 that were not developing so we tossed them. I candled them again at day 25 when I needed to take them out of the egg turner. Several were questionable but two were mostly blank so I left the two out. Exactly on day 28 I had a massive hatch-out of 6 ducklings almost together. After one hatches I believe the others here it cheering them on and the rest really start pushing. Two more hatched later that night and another two, with a little help, the next day. I only had one that started to hatch and didn’t make it. Ten healthy ducklings!

Lucian loved watching the ducklings hatch. We watched the first one together and he was cheering it on.

“I can see it’s feathers.”

“You can do it! Come on push!”

Fiona wanted to watch them all the time with her little nose pressed against the plexiglass of the incubator. We all love our little flock of ducklings.

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Chick Season!

Spring in Wisconsin has finally arrived (I hope) and that means it’s chick season.

I’m going to step away from my own children for a moment and move on to a few others.

Every year I work with a local school to set up my incubator and fertilized eggs in their classroom as part of a science/agriculture unit. Every year for a few weeks the 4th grade classroom is the most popular classroom to visit but this year was amazing.

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Not only was there an amazing hatch-out but it turned into an inter-grade cooperative unit. The 4th grade set up stations, presentations, and reading centers for the rest of the elementary school to visit and learn about the incubation process.

They read books about chickens, ducks, and geese to the younger grades and presented videos on chick development. When the chicks started to hatch each group came in to see the new chicks and watch the rest try to hatch.

Not only did the students learn a great deal about development but a few life lessons were thrown in there as well. They learned that unfortunately not all the chicks hatch and even some that do may not make it. It can be hard for them but I believe this unit is a great enrichment tool for them and I am glad each year that I have the resources to add a little of my farm life to theirs.

In the end I brought home a box full of 26 chicks for my kiddos to enjoy.

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We currently have duck eggs simmering in the incubator and I hope to have a great post about them in 18 days.

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