It is very important to keep the eggs warm. Hens keep them warm by sitting on them. We decided that the eggs would probably crack if we tried to sit on them, so we are using an incubator instead. We need to make sure the eggs stay between 98 and 102 degrees. 100 degrees is the optimum temperature, but Farmer Ricky says that if the eggs are kept a little bit cooler it will take longer for them to hatch. If they are kept a little bit warmer, they will hatch sooner.
Farmer Ricky also told us to turn the eggs three times a day. As you can see, we have a list put on the wall near our eggs to help us remember when to turn them. We marked the eggs with X on one side and O on the other to help us make sure we are turning them and to see if the eggs have been turned all the way. It is important to turn them to keep the yolk from attaching to the side of the egg and to exercise the chick.
We are also going to be “candling” the eggs to determine whether or not the chicks are developing. This was our first attempt to do so. We didn’t see much of anything being that it was the first day, but it was good to have the children look at them for comparison. Our chicken eggs are brown, so it will take a few more days before we are going to really be able to see the development during our candling session. (I save a few great links on candling eggs in my tumblr account. If you are interested, pop on over and check them out.)
Don’t worry, I’ll post another update when we actually have something to share from our candling observations. If you are going to hatch eggs, it is definitely worth candling them to provide more observation opportunities to the children as the eggs start to develop. 21 days is a long time (approximately for chickens) for children to just watch and turn eggs!
As you can see, our incubator is not very big or very “high tech.” This version called a “chick-u-bator” was most appealing to me because of the clear dome lid. Many incubators have a very small observation window, and I wanted to make sure that the children had an opportunity to all observe all of the events as they happen.
My friend Carol (who also runs a home daycare) is also hatching eggs right now, and she had the great idea of putting the incubator in a glass aquarium. This provides additional safety for the eggs and it also helps to keep the temperature up.
As you can see, we have a few eggs sitting outside of the incubator. Farmer Ricky said that if we find out that some of our eggs are not developing, we will be able to place these eggs in the incubator as long as we continue to turn them at least once a day. We are turning all of the eggs three times a day. We will be updating you on our observations as the chicks begin to develop.
On a side note for local folks: The Marquette Food Co-op is hosting an upcoming training: