The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Chick hatching photos

Brinsea Mini Incubator

7 am on day 21 --- two eggs are pipping.  I knew the head developed on the blunt end of the egg and somehow expected the first cracks to show up at that tip, but both cracked areas are instead about a quarter of the way down the shell.


The first signs of pipping are exciting, but then...nothing happens.  I wait, and wait, and wait, nearly figuring the chicks died until I notice the membrane below the cracked shell undulating as the chicks breathe.  Around lunchtime, the monotony is broken when one chick gets inspired by the sound of Mark's voice and peeps up a storm.

Chick pecks hole in egg

2:25 pm --- One chick has pecked through the membrane and I can barely see a beak moving inside!  The chick doesn't seem to be pecking at the shell so much as whacking its whole face against the boundary of its miniscule world.

Beak pushes through shell

3 pm --- While I wasn't looking, a third egg started pipping.  But there's now no movement from anything except the chick that showed off its beak half an hour ago.

Hole in egg

4 pm --- The most active chick finally decides to get to work.  Slowly but surely, it knocks against the side of the egg, turning its head so that the crack progresses around the egg's circumference.  After 45 minutes, the opening is half an inch long --- is this going to take all month?

Chick cracking egg

4:45 pm --- Rest, who needs rest?  Suddenly, the chick is pecking like mad.  (I turn the incubator around and notice a fourth egg has begun to pip.)

Radiating eggshell cracks

A thin line of blood appears on the egg's membrane where the chick scratched itself, but the little trooper keeps right on going.

Cracked egg

One hard whack rolls the egg over so that the chick's head is pounding against the floor, at which point the youngster begins to push and strain against the three-quarters severed lid.

Shell cracked in two

Chick pushing out of shell

5:10 pm --- Plop!  Out it falls onto the floor of the incubator.

Hatching chick

After all of that commotion breaking out of the shell, you wouldn't have thought it would take another half hour for the chick to figure out how to get its head out of the lid.

Chick in shell

Struggling chick

A massive flapping of incipient wings and the chick is free to drape itself across its unhatched siblings.  Two in-shell chicks join in the crazy peeping.

Newly hatched chick

No signs of further chicks out of the shell this morning.  Now I'll have to make the hard choice --- open up the incubator against everyone's advice and take out chick #1 and check on the chicks who haven't poked through yet, or leave them all another day?

After they all fluff out, we'll move our chicks to a brooder and treat them to clean water from our chicken waterer.  Don't worry --- a newly hatched chick can go three days without food and water, so our early bird won't suffer.

Incubation Handbook

See scads more cute chick photos (and learn how to become an expert at incubation) in my 99 cent ebook.

Permaculture Chicken: Incubation Handbook walks beginners through perfecting the incubating and hatching process so they can enjoy the exhilaration of the hatch without the angst of dead chicks. 92 full color photos bring incubation to life, while charts, diagrams, and tables provide the hard data you need to accomplish a hatch rate of 85% or more.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Congratulations, chicken parents!
Comment by Heather Mon Apr 18 09:45:13 2011
It was quite an experience watching it come out of the egg.
Comment by anna Mon Apr 18 16:37:01 2011
Thank you so much for sharing this adventure. I can't wait to get moved onto my own farm and have my own hatching chicks. I will be showing this to my grandson on Saturday for sure. Thanks again. :)
Comment by Grace2882 Mon Apr 18 16:39:38 2011
I hope your grandson enjoys the pictures! That's why I posted so many --- I wanted folks to be able to feel they'd really experienced it.
Comment by anna Mon Apr 18 19:27:30 2011
So coooooooooooooooooool!!!
Comment by J Mon Apr 18 23:54:35 2011

How fun! We eat so many eggs around here that I tend to forget what they're really for... It's a bit funny to see the little chicks come out.

Congratulations :)

Comment by Sara Tue Apr 19 01:06:52 2011

J --- my sentiments exactly! :-)

Sara --- I know what you mean. It was a bit tough to make the mental leap from egg to chicken. (Far tougher than it should have been --- what did I think those eggs were?!)

Comment by anna Tue Apr 19 08:49:46 2011

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