I started forty-five eggs in the incubator on the 15th of August. After two weeks I candled them and tossed a dozen of them. About half of the remaining eggs were "maybes" but I kept them in the incubator just in case I was wrong.
The peeping started Monday night. By Wednesday morning, there were seventeen live and fluffy chicks. But I had to preform some chick-fixing in order to save seven of them. It seems that for whatever reason (my fault, incubator fault, nature's fault, etc.?) at least nine of them had problems with the attachment of the umbilical cord to their abdomen. When they freed themselves from the shell, the spot where the cord meets the body wasn't totally formed or developed, so there was muscle poking out. Not much, but every time the chick peeped, it was forced out. I pushed the "stuff" back in and put a teeny-tiny bandage over it. Seven of them got a bandage and two of them I just left as it wasn't that big and had started to dry up on it's own. During the night one of them had the same problem but I didn't see it until the morning and there was already too much of his insides pushed out and dried out. I put him down because there was no way I could get all that back inside without doing more damage. I put down another as when he kicked his way out of the shell, most of his intestines were already outside of his body.
There was also one other that had started pecking out of the shell, but after a while there was no movement or sound and even a little "goo" oozing out of where the shell was pecked opened; another of the same problem I suspect. I gave it another few hours then determined it was really dead and tossed it.
So out of forty-five eggs, I got seventeen live chicks. A 38% hatching rate isn't very good, but it beats a sharp stick in the eye. Except half of them had some serious development issues. I did have a problem keeping the moisture up in the incubator this time and I also didn't get the eggs out of the egg-turner until almost 36 hours before the first one hatched. Could that have been the reason? Anyone have this problem before? I'm assuming it wasn't just a fluke as there were so many with the same problems. I just hope that they heal up and can become productive laying hens or soup stock (roosters).
I definitely think I'm going to have to call it quits for the 2012 Egg Incubation Marathon. Although we finished with a total of 28 homegrown chicks this year (plus two wild turkey poults), I'd have to say that the outcome was less than desirable.
But just like the garden.....there's always next year!