Chickens / Incubation

Setting the First Wave

My Basque Hen (Euskal Oiloa) eggs arrived from Skyline Poultry on Wednesday.  They had traveled far out of their way and through the ringer, making what should have been a three-day journey take five days.  However, due to the packing method, all of the eggs arrived intact.

I candled them later in the evening and found that the air cells were a bit wonky from shipping.  Some had a large, clearish area which looked a bit like the outline South America where a small, round air cell should have been.  Air cells and the other structures of the egg can be reformed to some extent by allowing the eggs to rest wide-end-up for an extended period of time before incubation.  If the damage is severe, you can delay turning the eggs for up to six days after setting the eggs in the incubator.  I opted to allow mine to first rest for 24 hours in my 60-degree, 70%-humidity shower storage area.  Then, I set the eggs and will not plug in the automatic turner for 48 hours, giving them a full 72 hours to reform.

I also received eggs from my swap partner on Wednesday.  Although these endured only two days of travel, they unfortunately did not fare so well.  Poor little eggs!

Kindly, she included extras, so I still ended up with six, beautiful, intact eggs.  They will be a mix of Orpington and Marans hens under Orpington, Ameraucana, and EE roos.  So, I have a very good chance of hatching pure, mixed color Orpingtons and “olive eggers” (dark-green-egg-laying Marans X Amer. or EE crosses) from these beautiful eggs.

When I candled these, I found the air cell  and yolk seeming to bob freely around the egg!  There must have been damage to the chalaza which holds the yolk in place.  I don’t know if these will hatch, but I am certainly giving them a shot!

I have two incubation options for my eggs right now.  I can place them in my incubator or with my untested little broody – my little Phoenix hen, Phoenie (fee-nee).  Whatever the broody hatches, she will want to raise – like any mother – and so I wanted to ensure that she would hatch chicks I planned on keeping.  Thus, I had decided to give her some of the Basque Hen eggs.  However, I could not convince her to stay in the beautiful 4×4 coop I had prepared for her.  She just wanted to go back to the big coop where she feels comfortable.

The brooding Phoenix

The prepared 4x4: Little feeder of feed & scratch mix to dry her droppings, water, nest box (I later removed the top), and pine needles to try to deter mites.

I could put a lid on her nest box to make sure she does not abandon her eggs, and I may resort to doing that, but it would be challenging to schedule someone to let her out and make sure she got back in each day.  So far, the other hens have been leaving her alone, but she has been getting back on the wrong nest.  Given, these nests both contain only two wooden nest eggs most of the time.  But this is not a mistake I want to subject my Basque eggs to.  So, I decided to give the Phoenix the six swap eggs plus one of my Speckled Sussex eggs as insurance that at least one should hatch.  Also, sitting hens do better with an odd number of eggs because they are easier to arrange into the oval they like.  Thus, the Basque eggs are in the incubator, and the swap eggs are under Phoenie.

And there are more eggs arriving today or tomorrow!!!  (Insert slightly insane laugh here.) 🙂


3 thoughts on “Setting the First Wave

  1. Pingback: Candling Update « Scratch Cradle

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