Tag: chicks

Chick Update

So, if I am not mistaken, it is day 17 of chick gestation and things seem to be going well.  The temperature has gone a little sketchy only a couple of times [last weekend being one of those] and the humidity has been sometimes difficult to keep above 55%, but the proof will be in the pudding and we should be serving that up on Wednesday of this week!!!!!  Cinco de Mayo is their scheduled B-day, so I have lots to do this week to get ready.  I need to:

  • buy some baby chick feed
  • create some sort of brooder
  • create a water station they won’t drown themselves in
  • get a light set up that won’t cook them
  • order their coop

When we go back to school on Monday , we will need to begin steadily raising the humidity, because everything I have read says it needs to be high for them to hatch.  On Monday or Tuesday we will need to take out the egg turning mechanism and replace it with lots of wet paper towels in case they hatch during the night.  Once they begin hatching, we have to leave them alone until they all hatch.  We can’t help them, because it is part of their developmental process to get out of that egg.  They can stay in the incubator after hatching for up to 48 hours with no introduction of food or water, but they won’t need to stay that long.  I will be taking pictures, so that is something else I need to do this weekend:  charge my camera battery.

I am clearly more excited than most of my students, but that is okay… this is more than a lesson, it is one of those things I have always wanted to do :).

We candled the eggs with a flashlight and a cone of cardboard in the supply closet about a week ago, but it is an inexact science at best.   We could see a big blob in about 50-60% of them, and some we weren’t so sure what we were seeing, but in one we actually could see a heartbeat and the outline of the chick [which is actually scary to me since maybe we should have been seeing that in all of them and maybe only a handful or, God forbid, one is developing].  Since we are dealing with four different kinds of chicken eggs with differing shell opacity, weight, and color, it definitely affects how much you can see.  Our flashlight also left a lot to be desired in brightness and focus, so it was not as definitive an exercise as I had anticipated.

This photo is lifted from the Internet as we did not take pictures of our candling.  I am not sure what kind of light this is, but if we had put our eggs onto the flashlight we had, we would not have seen this.  We had to go into a completely dark supply closet one or two students at a time and check one or two eggs at a time until we did all 23.

I am hoping we get at least 12 chicks out of this, that is my goal, but I would be happy to witness just one hatching.  It is all a learning experience, and anticipation, like always, is half the fun.

Chicken Lottery

Four days ago, on April 14th [tax day eve], my students and I placed 23 eggs into an incubator in the classroom and began studying embryology.  This is my very first foray into hatching chicks and so I am as excited or more excited even than my students.  Between researching the unit and entertaining a guest speaker this week, I am learning right along with my class.

Here are some random and interesting facts that I have learned.  We need to keep the incubator temperature around 100 degrees.  A hen’s normal temperature is 107˚.  The humidity in the incubator must be kept around 50% until a few days before hatching, when it should be raised to between 75 and 85%.  Most of the eggs you buy in the store are not fertilized– if you find a red dot on the yolk, then that egg was fertilized.  Once fertilized the eggs can hang out for days with the embryo in sort of a state of suspended animation until someone decides to either incubate them or sit on them.  Once they reach an internal temperature of 85%, development of the baby chick will commence.  Chickens need Roosters in order to lay fertilized eggs.  Chicken sex, however, is not what you would think it would be… it is really just an exchange of fluids between the rooster and the hen.  After they are born, baby chickens can live for like 48 hours with no food or water, but once removed from the incubator and mom, should be given baby chicken mash and plenty of water.  The water, however, should be offered in such a way that the baby chicks will not drown themselves, for instance in a shallow pan filled with marbles where they can drink around the marbles.  For some reason, perhaps their recent exit from a watery environment, the chicks are drawn to the water and will fling themselves into it and drown during the first days of life.

The chicks are due to be born on Cinco de Mayo, so we keep teasing they will be ‘Latin chicks.’  Of the 23 eggs, statistically, about 50-75% of them may end up with chicks developed and capable of pecking their way to freedom.  So, I wonder, almost daily, how many we will end up with and what they will look like.  The eggs were taken from four types of chickens:  Rhode Island Reds [whose chicks are sort of calico brown and yellow], Delewares [who produce the ubiquitous fluffy yellow chicks], Barred Rock Hens [dark brown chicks], and Bantams [I think also yellow chicks/white adults].  So, we could have any combination of breed and gender.

If you know me then you know that one of the items on my bucket list is to raise chickens, so I plan to take three hens home at the end of this project.  I live in a neighborhood and have no place to put three chickens, but I plan to order a portable chicken coop that looks like an A framed chalet.  I found it on the Internet and one of the places you can purchase it is, wow, Amazon.com.  You can really find nearly anything on Amazon.

It’s Sunday and I actually went in to the school three times yesterday to check on my eggs and make sure they are still at the right temperature and humidity.  Last week was spring break and it flew by, but now that we are hatching eggs, the time is creeping slowly by.  We are only on day four and today the embryos are about the size of butter beans.  We may get to candle them this week in order to see which are developing the way they are supposed to.