Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 3/ Day 4 Candling

Today is day 4 of our chicken's development.  This was one of the days we had slated for candling our eggs.  Candling is a way you can study the embryonic development of an egg.  It is done by placing a bright light source of light behind the egg.  If you do it right (and your eggshells aren't too dark- the "chocolate" colored Maran eggs were extremely difficult to see through), you can see right into the egg!  In the olden days, eggs were candled using a candle.  Eden thinks that might be how they came up with the name.  ;)
Here is another fun blog post about candling.

Eden and I built a candling box and it worked okay, but we had way better results with Brandon's LED Maglite.  I cupped my hands over the light in a dark room and left a small space for light to escape from my hands.  I set the egg there and voila!  It worked like a charm!

I did a couple of eggs from each incubator yesterday and I could make out very distinct (and wiggling) embryo and blood vessels!

Easter Egger blue egg with embryo and blood vessels visible.  Day 3.
This morning I did the entire bunch.  This is how that went...

Of 52 eggs, 25 had clearly visible, viable embryos.  

12 had good looking air sacs and looked like they would probably end up being viable, but I either couldn't see through the dark shells (9 of these were from the Marans with the chocolate eggs) or the embryo was hiding.
Air space is visible at the bottom of the pic.

11 looked completely clear (I kept them in the incubator for now and will recheck them in a couple of days).

Looks clear to me.

1 had 2 cracks in the egg that were not visible until I candled it.  It looked clear and I removed this one from the incubator.

2 had what I considered to be very distinct blood rings (based on photos I found on the internet- this is my first actual experience with this) and I saw no embryo or vasculature.  I also removed these 2 from the incubator.

I wanted to reconcile what I was seeing by candling with what was actually in the egg so I opened the 3 "bad eggs".  I tried to get photos, but I couldn't get the camera to focus at all on what I was seeing. 

The egg with the cracks that looked clear to me had a nice little embryo and lots of good blood vessels.  If the cracks hadn't been there, it would have likely been a lovely little chicken!  

The 2 with the "blood rings" made me a little bit sad.  Both of them, when opened, looked healthy and viable!  The blood rings were actually a circle of blood vessels and in the center of it was heavy vasculature and an embryo.  All I could see when I candled them was the ring.  It was a dark, heavy line of red and no other blood vessels were visible.  I will not be so quick to toss eggs with blood rings next time!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Homeschool Science Is Cool!

I confess, I am currently very bored with homeschooling.  We took the month of December off and I have had a hard time getting back into the swing of things.

But... perhaps there is a chance the excitement could come back!

When we went to the VA State Fair this past year, Eden and I both had such a good time watching the baby chicks hatch.  We already know what to do with chicks.  We know we love chickens.   I really wanted some more.  Brandon was on board with that!  Watching the babies made me really want to hatch some of our own (especially since our roo is so beautiful and has such a good personality)!  Brandon was also on board with that!

So, I decided that we would turn this hatching chicks thing into a science project.  What a fun way to breathe life (literally) back into our school year!

We borrowed an incubator from our neighbor.  It is a Little Giant still-air incubator with an automatic egg turner.  They have had some pretty good results hatching with this incubator.  Because I like to make things difficult, I decided that we would build an incubator, as well.

Little Giant- holds 41 eggs

The homemade incubator is made from a styrofoam shipping container.  I got instructions from various websites and YouTube videos, but it all boiled down to 2 things, Temperature and Humidity.  Here is what we did.

Shipping container minus lid.

I cut a hole in the lid to make a window.  This is essential to view the thermometer/ hygrometer
and for watching chicks hatch!

A friend gave me a plastic lid to some discarded appliance and I duct taped it in place. 

We added a light fixture (also with duct tape) and put a 25 watt bulb in it.  The wire is to keep anything from touching the bulb.  It also forms a raised floor so that nothing touches the water in the bottom of the box.

We added a thermometer/ hygrometer to keep track of the temperature and humidity. 

We decided to collect some of our own eggs for hatching, but there are some fun breeds out there and I couldn't resist buying a few (26 is a few, right?) hatchery eggs, too!

Today we set all of the eggs (52 total) and now we wait!  21 days until fluffy cuteness descends on the Rollogas house!  I am alternating between excitement and sheer terror when I think that it is possible that *all* of these eggs may hatch.  We are hoping that half of them will hatch.

Loaded up!

Loaded up!
Eden has had a hand in building the incubator, loading it up, monitoring temperatures and turning eggs.  I'll carry you with us through the next 3 weeks as we learn about chick development and such!