Our school has now purchased an incubator and brooder so we may attempt to hatch eggs. We have 7 hen’s eggs and have placed them in the incubator this morning. This means that in 21 days time we will hopefully have little chicks hatching!
We will be keeping you updated each day with what is happening with the eggs and inside the eggs.
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Today is Day 1 and inside the egg the chick begins to develop as a small dot in the yellow yolk and the nervous system is starting to develop. The eggs must remain undisturbed in the incubator for the first 7 days. The incubator heats up to just over 37 degrees C and automatically turns the eggs; just like a mother hen would do.
This picture shows you the inside of the egg on day 1.
On day 2 of incubation the heart and blood vessels are starting to form as are the eyes and ears. The heart begins to beat!
Today the spinal column begins to form and there are little buds appearing that will grow into the wings and legs. The incubator is turning the eggs one way then another every 45 mins. The incubator also keeps the temperature constant. This means we can leave the eggs alone as touching and fiddling with the eggs at this early stage can affect the developing chick.
Today the chicks continue to develop and the hearts are beating. We have toppled up the water in the incubator to make sure that the humidity (or how damp the air is) is at the correct level for the eggs.
Over the weekend on Day 5 and Day 6 the embryo starts to look more like a chicken as the shape develops and the eyes are visible. The legs and wings are now taking shape and the tiny digits on the feet are starting to grow. The tongue and many of the major internal organs are now forming too.
Inside the egg the chick has formed its beak and its eyes are now developed and open. The comb on the chick’s head begins to form. The incubator is turning the eggs automatically but we noticed that one of the eggs was not turning properly so Mrs McAllister opened the incubator and moved the egg as it was catching on the water container. The eggs are being turned through 180 degrees every 45 minutes; first one way then the other.
On day 8 the skull is covering the brain and the wings and beak are becoming more defined. Feather roots are also starting to develop on the skin.
Tomorrow we are going to ‘candle’ the eggs. This is when we use a special light to look inside the egg and hopefully see the shadow of the developing chick growing inside!
The toes separate and form today and inside the egg it is looking more like a chick and the mouth opening appears.
We candled 3 of the eggs and saw a dark shape within the egg. As the days go by and we continue to candle we should see the dark shape growing. Seeing a dark shape at this time is a good sign as it is the shadow of the chick as the light passes through the egg.
We have also topped up the water to make sure it remains quite humid in the incubator.
As you can see in the photos the chick is forming quite fast and the beak is hardening.
Today we had a power cut! The temperature has dropped a little but the heating is back on and we will leave the eggs alone for today to make sure they have time to settle again after the temperature change. Temperature changes are normal and the incubator was set yesterday for a cooling period each day of 2 hours to simulate the mother hen leaving the eggs for a short while to get food and stretch her legs! So we are hopeful that the power cut will not have adversely affected the eggs.
Day 11 And 12
Can you see the tail forming on the chick in the photos? The white of the egg or the albumen is the food store for the embryo during incubation as well as acting like a cushion for the yolk. The yolk, the yellow part that you can see next to the chick, is the food supply for the first few days after the chick has hatched.
The skeleton of the chick has now begun to calcify and harden and over the next few days the chick will turn in the egg so that its head is at the blunt end.
Look at this amazing picture of a chick at day 14! The eyelid has formed and completely closes the eye and the feathers and toes can be clearly seen. Mrs McAllister checked the chicks today and ‘candled’ the eggs again- unfortunately 2 of the eggs have no sign of a chick growing and the others are being monitored. This is normal that not all eggs develop fully.
Day 15 and 16
The feathers are growing in quite quickly and the toenails also begin to grow. The veins inside the egg reduce in size as the chick grows. The remaining egg white has been absorbed and the air sac at the blunt end of the egg is quite big.
Day 17 and 18
The chick is well developed but not quite ready for hatching. The yolk now begins to retract into the chick’s tummy. Everything the chick needs to survive is contained within the egg- food and air!
The yolk has almost completely been absorbed into the chick and the head is at the air sac end and its feet at the pointed end. The yolk is the food for the chick in its first few days after hatching. Can’t wait to get to school tomorrow and check on our eggs!
Day 20 and 21
These we the days when the chick should start to break through the he egg and then hatch. Unfortunately it seems our eggs did not handle the power cut and resulting temperature drop very well and we have no eggs containing chicks.☹️
We have now ordered some new eggs to put in our incubator and they should arrive next week. The cause of the power cut has been identified so we don’t have to worry about the loss of heating in our incubator this time.
So another 3 weeks and we’ll see if we have any chicks hatching –