Thursday, April 29, 2010
Incubation Observation & Other Thoughts…
(Watch for Comments at the bottom of each Blog; there may be one or two. The one added to yesterday’s blog, "Splendids," is particularly interesting. There is a Comments button at the end of each blog and it tells you how many, if any, comments there are).
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll recall our attempt to incubate two Bourke eggs. We were successful right up to the point where the eggs were even piping. It was very disappointing to lose the little chicks after getting them so close to hatching.
The cause, we had decided, might be that we didn’t have enough humidity present toward the end of incubation. More humidity is needed just before hatching. A dish of water was present, but we heard a recommendation to hang a wet washcloth near them in the last few days and keep checking it since it would dry out from the heat lamp.
Maybe that would have made a difference, or maybe not. Sugar, the hen who abandoned those eggs after becoming egg-bound with the 3rd egg, recently laid three eggs. It took her a while to recover from the ordeal we put her through to help her release the over-sized egg. At least she survived.
Sugar kept the three eggs from this clutch warm right up to the point of hatching, but these did not hatch either. After 21 days I was concerned, but left them under her for over 30 days. I wanted her to abandon them herself, but she was more persistent than any other hen I’ve ever had and remained on them – she was very determined, but in the end it did her no good.
Once the eggs were removed from her nestbox, I opened them. One was infertile, but the other two held dead chicks, fully developed and ready to hatch, but apparently they could not. Was it genetics, or something else? Unless she succeeds with another clutch someday, I may never know.
As I sit here typing, I see Sugar and Spice mating again. Spicy’s picture is in the column at the left. He’s the very tiny, newly hatched baby being hand fed. At the time, his mother was mated to a much younger male (the only one available), and he wasn’t very good at helping feed the young. To compensate she was only willing to feed the first two eggs that hatched. When we lost the third baby, I paid close attention. Realizing she wasn’t feeding the fourth baby, I removed the newly hatched Spicy and hand fed him. He was my first experience at hand feeding. By the way, his father grew up the following year and the pair successfully raised three or four babies in most clutches thereafter.