Thursday, February 24, 2011

Incubator update

You may remember that we started 31 eggs in our new incubator almost two weeks ago. From the very beginning the big question has been: how many are fertile?

The process that's used to figure this out is called candling. It involves holding the egg to a bright light in a dark room, to get a view of the contents. There are lots of websites with photos showing eggs at different stages of development, but there's a big difference between reading a book or looking at some pictures and figuring it out yourself with a flashlight in one hand and an egg in the other.

Kim and I gave it a try the other day. I was in charge of the record keeping, light switch switching and second opinion proffering, while Kim did the candling. What we were looking for was the air sac at the bigger end of the egg. In the photo you can see it on the left. That sac will get bigger as the embryo continues to develop. We were also looking for veining (visible at the top in the photo) and a dark mass that could be the embryo.

The air sac turned out to be a really easy thing to spot. Quite a few of the eggs had visible veining, and in some of those the embryo was very distinct. It was thrilling, actually. We were especially happy to find that most of the Australorp eggs were fertile - there was a time, after all, when we thought that Hector might be a gay, mute rooster. But he's doing his job - good Hector!

By the time we were finished we had decided that six of the eggs weren't fertile, so we took them out of the incubator and disposed of them - gently, since they were likely to be smelly if broken. So we're down to 25 eggs. There are still things that can go wrong before the hatch date of March 4 or 5, but we're excited to have made it this far.

Image from here.


~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

Great picture Miriam, and I'm excited too!!

Enjoy your weekend!!

Rae said...

Very cool. I'm excited for you! We got our first chickies earlier this week, and LJ is hoping to hatch our own eggs in the future. Can't wait to see the pics when yours hatch! Happy Friday!

Toni aka irishlas said...

So exciting! I can't wait to see the peeps!

Have a great weekend, ladies!

Doc said...

I just knew Odd Hector had it in, was er.... well you know what I mean. Have a great weekend

Paula said...

I actually know first hand the thrill of candling. Years ago when I lived in Florida, a mallard pair were hanging around my front yard. When I got home from work, the birds were gone, but they'd left behind an egg by the front walk. I brought it in, and called a bird sanctuary or the library (I forget which) to find out what to do (I wasn't online back then). I set up an incubator, and turned the egg, and candled it, and lo there were a lot of veins all round and a dark spot, which I took to be the embryo. I kept taking care of the egg and a couple days later candled it again, and when the dark spot went swimming around inside, I nearly lost my lunch.

More power to you guys; I'll never do it again!

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