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  Helping a chick hatch . . . some observations
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  Post new topic   Reply to topic The United Peafowl Association - www.peafowl.org Forum Index » Incubation, Hatching, and Peachick care     
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RunDanRun
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 12:17 am Reply with quote

I've been hatching out peachicks for about five or so years now . . . not that long, but I've come to notice a few things that are open to discussion here, but it seems like it's been of help in my hatch success this year..., so I thought I would share my observations.

Okay, we've probably all heard the saying, "never help a chick hatch or it will ruin it's development." Well, at least that's what I've always understood. Smile

Here's what I've been doing THIS year (after a disastrous hatch last year). Last year, MANY of my hens' eggs were fertile, but the chicks died inside before they could pip or hatch out completely. VERY frustrating.

So, this year, after 28 days, I pick up the eggs and tap on the shell, listening for a whistle/cheap in response. If it hasn't pipped yet (broken a portion of the shell), the egg is watched closely. If not pipped by 29 days, I pip an opening for it using a fine screw driver (like one you would use for glasses, but a flat edge). I then use the blood test (read on) to determine my next move.

IF the egg is pipped at any time, I give the chick 12 hours to break through and show significant progress. Typically, the egg lining is a bit bloody (dark red), letting me know the chick isn't ready to hatch out quite yet..., BUT if the lining IS NOT very bloody (has light blood film instead of a dark blood), then I take that as a sign that the chick is ready to (and must) hatch shortly or it will risk dying in the shell. In this case, I start chipping away the egg, up to 3/4 all the way around . . . I do make sure that the head can get clear of the shell (by chipping a little wider at that spot) as well. If the chick doesn't break through and "hatch" itself in an hour, then I go ahead and crack the remaining last 1/4 so the chick can easily get out. I typically put that top end against another egg to make the chick push at least a little, but that's about it.

Now, a if chick pips early (like at 26 days or 27 days), I'll give it a day and then start the process (using the blood color as a guide). If it's not out within 24 hours (even despite significant progress), I'll start the chipping process.

I've lost only two chicks this year in shell -- one because I chipped but didn't crack the last 1/4 and the bird didn't make it out; the other because I misread the date and didn't chip into the egg at 29 days. It also died in the shell.

Now, I don't do this to all my eggs as most chicks hatch on their own, but there is a pretty good percentage of chicks that seem to need this kind of help for some reason.

The key SEEMS to be the color of the blood when the interior lining is broke/contacted. A dark red blood seems to indicate more time is needed, while the light, filmy blood seems to indicate a hatch needs to occur, one way or the other, relatively soon.

I DO have a theory on this...when you incubate an egg, the shell doesn't get thinned as much as when resting under a hen...which is constantly moving and rubbing the egg, contacting the egg at its widest point (the pipping area) and as a result, thinning the shell in that particular area, making it easier for a chick to hatch out. Also, once pipped and the hatching process has started, the hen's weight would also help with the cracking of the egg shell. Incubating doesn't provide that same kind of friction/thinning or weight. That's my THEORY. Smile

Well, that's what I've found...feel free to disagree, agree or ask questions.
Smile
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D C T
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 12:00 pm Reply with quote

The NORMAL incubation period for a peafowl egg in warm climate is TWENTY SIX days. Exclamation
although last year I had some 29 day peachicks due to weather and the fact that those
eggs were under a bantam on bare earth so must have been too cool. And most of
those peachicks died and the one survivor had a really bad time with not absorbing its
eggyolk.
The use of a candler is ESSENTIAL in deciding when and how to "assist" a hatching Idea
If blood vessels can be seen around the edge of the airspace the peachick is NOT
ready to hatch. The only exception to this is if the peachick is a head between the
legs malposition baby which will certainly die if not given very skilled assistance that
needs to begin about two days before peachick is due to hatch.
--------
Firstborn (hatched in 1992 and still with me) pipped the eggshell at day twenty four and
a half. On day 25 I took her out and dried her with a hand held hair dryer set on "Low".
She was from a very small but perfectly shaped first egg of my pet, Twister. The
incubating chickens let the eggs get cold at mid term which killed the peachick in
Twister's number two egg and certainly weakened Firstborn even if she did pip early.
Firstborn was "as limp as a wet dishrag" as my Pennsylvania grandmother would have
said. I treated her for straddle legs just as soon as she was able to think of walking.
------
Hen's weight cracking the shell???????? hmmmm.... Confused Actually this is FATAL.
I have seen dead crushed chicks and peachicks way too amy times.
This is the reason that if the peachick is not destined to be raised by the hatching
mother I remove the egg about three days before it is due to hatch and put it
in a cheap styrofoam Hovabator after rinsing in warm water to remove mites
and candling to see if it is alive and checking for malposition.

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RunDanRun
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 1:05 pm Reply with quote

Hmmm. 26 days? What temperature do you have your incubator set at? Mine is at 99.5 and typical hatch is 28 days (and that seems to be what I've also found online about others' experiences). Climate would only seem to matter if you hatched your eggs outdoors by a hen in a pretty warm climate — I use bantam chicken hens for a week and then move my eggs indoors to an incubator.

As far as the candling is concerned, I agree, though evidently you have a much more powerful light/candle than I use since I can't tell what position the chick is in. What do you use?

However, my point being that if at 28 days I haven't seen a pip, I go in. If the chick pips earlier than 28 days, if it's not out in 12 to 24 hours, I also look to assist, using the color of the blood to guide me as to whether to continue the assist or be patient for another half day. And if it pips at 28 days and isn't out in 12 hours, again, I'm looking to assist. So far, this seems to have a increased my survival rate in my chicks.

Yes, feel free to disagree with me concerning the possibility of the hens weight aiding in the hatching process (one might wonder how they ever reproduce in the wild : ) However, that hasn't been my experience. What I've noticed, though, is when a hen is startled out of her setting position, she's not very careful about her footwork. I've seen this when a young peacock went running through where my peahen was nesting. She could easily step on and crush a weakened egg (that was a half-hatched chick or even a hatched young chick). Of course, you've obviously had another experience and I'll take your word for it -- I will likely only let a hen hatch out her own chicks IF it's the end of the season (because it is cool to see how the chicks follow her around and perch with her under her wings in the evenings . . . don't get that with incubated eggs. Smile

Well, thanks for your insights!
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casportpony



Joined: 11 Sep 2009
Posts: 29
Location: Gilroy, CA
PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 2:57 pm Reply with quote

Thank you all for posting your thoughts and experiences as this information might prove to be very helpful. This year is my first attempt at hatching peachicks and my first ever pea eggs are sitting under a very broody Royal Palm. Today is day 25 and when I candled the eggs about ten days ago, four of the five looked viable.

A few questions...
1) When you say that eggs hatch sooner in warmer weather, what does that mean, exactly? We've had a couple of days of 90 to 105 degrees, but it's been mostly 80's the rest of the time. By early am it's been high 40's - 50's.

2) When you candle, what signs do you look when trying to see if the head is stuck between the legs? Before I read some of these posts, I had no idea that this might have been a reason for some of my chicks, keets and ducklings not hatching.

3) Has anyone ever let a turkey hatch and/or raise peachicks? Sure wish I had an incubator right about now.

As for other eggs, my three peahens are working on two different nests. One has 10 eggs in it, the other has just 1. I also have another eight eggs that I'm going to put under a couple of ducks.

In many ways this is just like waiting for foals to be born...

Kathy
Gilroy, CA
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RunDanRun
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:23 pm Reply with quote

Hi Kathy,

I can't really answer your first two questions, but I know peacocks and turkeys sometimes don't work too well together as (this is second hand knowledge) I've read peacocks can get a disease called "black head" from turkeys. Now, what I DON'T know is if that is limited to wild turkeys or if it includes domestic turkeys OR if all you have to do is treat your peafowl with some kind of medication to keep it from occurring. However, before you proceed, please investigate. Smile

Wait a minute, you mentioned you have your eggs under a royal palm . . . that's a turkey, right? Without an incubator, you're stuck until they hatch (unless you have some other broody hens). You MAY want to try the hair dryer on low setting thing that D C T did and get the chicks into a protected area away from the turkey as soon after the hatch as possible. After my chicks have dried in my incubator, I place my chicks under a heat lamp in my basement, along with medicated feed and water, BUT I only use a 60W bulb in the lamp and it's about 8 or so inches off the ground . . . the chicks move under the lamp and then away from it if it gets too warm (and also as they get older as they don't need it as much).

HOWEVER, BEFORE YOU DO ALL THIS, please check with others more knowledgeable about turkey diseases and peacocks . . . this is just something I've been told several times, but since I don't have turkeys, I have never witnessed it myself or investigated for a cure, but I thought I should say something to encourage you to pursue that information.

Dan
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D C T
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 5:37 pm Reply with quote

The temperature in the Hovabator where eggs go for last three days of incubation
is around 96 degrees because the babies are generating their own body heat.
-----
When my very first peahen mother, Firstborn, settled onto her eggs I was VERY
careful to mark it on the calendar because I had been in a heated debate with a
person over the ocean in England who was insisting that it takes TWENTY EIGHT
days to get the job done. She was right about how things are in that rainy chilly
climate but I was right about how things are in Georgia USA. I even phoned a
UPA member up in Canada who confirmed that it takes 28 days up there.
-----
Due to acute cash shortage I do not have super candlers--if they exist but I
do have years of experience at reading the shadowy forms in the egg.
The biggest hint from those shadows is the location of the movement.
I see no head movement while the base of the neck (located nearest the
big end of egg) moves very slightly as the poor thing tries in vain to move
the head while not being able to breathe. This is why two days BEFORE hatch
date is the time to do this very tricky rescue procedure....and why one MUST
need to know that hatch date. But careful observation of the blood vessels
is part of this. Sometimes the peachick will die anyhow but without the
intervention 100% of these will die.
But I have left out other malpositions such as head pointed to the left which
is even more likely to be fatal....and chick completely backwards in egg.....
or backwards with head between the legs....all waiting to show me that I
can NOT win them all

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D C T
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 5:53 pm Reply with quote

about blackhead.......
I have been told that the organism for blackhead rides inside cecal worms and
that is how this disease travels. So if peafowl eggs were incubated by turkey
and then removed to Hovabator at day 23 they should be safe from blackhead.
But since I use chickens for this I do not know how it is to get eggs from under
a turkey. But I do refer to most of my setting hens as "hand biters" Confused
....and right now I have a shortage of hand biters gaah
that is so severe that I am using my red hand biter to incubate some chicken
eggs :egg

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lhROW
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 9:50 am Reply with quote

I don't have tons of experience, as this is only my second year hatching eggs... But I've learned a couple things that might be useful.

When you are putting in the air hole -- into the air sac area of the shell -- it helps to candle and see where is safe to put the hole(s). I use a dremel tool, which is easily controlled and makes a small, neat hole that isn't likely to spread or make more cracks. Putting in holes can be problematic with a strong chick, because a really strong chick can burst out too soon if there are cracks or weak spots, even though it may not have been able to pip through or crack the shell with its beak.

If you think about it, there are several things going on, more or less independently. The chick is pecking with its beak, and pushing with its legs. It's also rotating inside the shell (or supposed to be). Any of those three things can go wrong. Sometimes the legs can move but the beak can't reach the shell, and sometimes the beak can reach the shell to peck, but the legs can't push strongly, or the beak can only reach one spot because the bird can't turn. So depending on the problem, the attempts to help can inadvertently create more problems. Confused

Last year, I had a very strong chick that was stuck, not turning well, and I chipped the shell a little bit for it so it would get air. That chick's legs were so strong that when it pushed, it extended those cracks immediately, and popped out too soon. It had a messy navel, and almost died.

Sometimes the chick pips into the air sac internally, but just can't reach the outer shell to get air, and then the air sac supply runs out inside. That's where putting in the air holes really helps. I lost chicks last year because I didn't do that for them.

The chick I rescued yesterday had pipped through the side of the shell, and had never pipped internally into the air sac. It was barely able to reach the hole in the side of the shell, and never turned at all. I had one get stuck like that last year, though it had pipped at a better spot, and after waiting appropriate periods of time and candling, and proceeding exceedingly carefully, I managed to extricate both chicks. The one from yesterday is having some problems with its feet -- hard to say if it's from malpositioning, or genetic -- and those aren't mutually exclusive, either.

Last year, I had one suffocate that had been progressing -- when it turned, its body covered up the hole and it could no longer get air. I had not put air holes in the air sac, since I thought that chick was doing fine on its own. To this day, I wish I had figured out to get it more places to get air. I think that chick would have been perfectly healthy, and just had an accident while hatching. I don't think that would have been genetic, it just had bad luck.

As to thickness of the shell, my guess is that is related to a lot of factors: maternal health, the calcium supply available to the hen, and probably genetics. The hardness may also depend on whether the egg has been in a moist or dry environment -- I live where it is very dry. Last year, the humidity had been in the single digits and the temps had been in the triple digits. The feral egg shells were incredibly hard and tough -- no wonder those chicks had problems getting out.

I don't know if eggs hatched under hens need less rescuing than eggs hatched in incubators -- I know the success rate is supposed to be higher if eggs are started under hens, but I thought that related to viability early on, rather than the hatching process. I am not sure that more eggs in incubators need rescuing -- it may just be that for this particular species, hatching could be difficult in general, and a limiting factor on the breeding population.

Another thing to consider (and one reason I'm actually not sure I should be rescuing at all) is whether over several generations, rescuing chicks now results in perpetuating less vigorous birds later, or creates later generations of birds with congenital disposition to poor hatchability. Many of us don't have the heart to cull weak birds, or refrain from breeding a bird that had trouble hatching (and after all, who knows if it was a genetic weakness?), and we may inadvertently weaken the breeding stock with our efforts to help the struggling babies.

I've had a couple chicks now with significant positioning problems -- I don't know what causes that, but I can think of a few possibilities, none of which I can prevent. Sad

Dunno if any of this helps...

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jimmoss



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:13 am Reply with quote

our first egg is in 2nd hour of hatching in incubator. it has a good hole for air--how long is normal hatching in incubator?

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D C T
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:22 am Reply with quote

If a pipped egg fails to finish hatching with 24 hours I will help chick out UNLESS
blood vessels make it plain that the chick is not ready to come out.

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jimmoss



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:35 am Reply with quote

thanks--it seems to be doing fine--some outside shell falling of--more and more cracks--and can hear it very well

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