My chickens teach me things all the time. Now I need my broody hen who is sitting on the nest, in the coop outside, to teach me how to be a good mother hen. I’m obviously not going to sit on the eggs as she does but watching her has taught me how I need to view the hatching process.
I’ve never hatched eggs before so I plan to write about the process and the progress as I go along. If you’ve never hatched before feel free to share your progress as well. If you come across this long after it has been written I should know more by then and would be happy to help. If you’ve have hatched before please feel free to share about your first hatch or anything about hatching that might be helpful. If you don’t have chickens or don’t intend to hatch feel free to follow along to. Hopefully, by the time I’m done I’ll have some cute chick pictures to share.
My eggs arrived, securely packaged, on Saturday, September 13, 2020. 16 little Serama eggs. I carefully unwrapped each one and placed it into an egg carton, pointy side down, to sit for 24 hours. I also started the incubator because that is supposed to run for 24 hours before putting eggs into it. I was really happy that I did that because it took all day to get the temperature and humidity settings adjusted. I had put a Govee wireless Thermometer Hydrometer into it and it was reading almost two degrees different from what it said on the Nurture Right 360 incubator display. The humidity was perfect. It showed 47 one both the incubator display and the Govee. I raised the temperature to 100.0 on the incubator and got a perfect 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit reading on the Govee.
On Sunday afternoon, I put the eggs in the incubator, pointy end toward the middle as the directions said. After putting them in the humidity went up to about 53 so I spent time yesterday removing water to lower that back down.
The Nurture Right 360 has an automatic egg turner. I intended to use that instead of hand turning the eggs because I didn’t want to disturb them and I didn’t want to keep opening up the incubator. I had placed an X and an O on either side of the egg, in pencil, before placing them into the incubator to be sure that all eggs were actually turning. All went in with the X facing up but two hours later some said X and some said O. I decided that it would be better to just hand turn them twice a day so that I could be sure they all turned evenly.
Last night, the humidity in the incubator did go somewhat low. I had some humidity issues before bed after turning the eggs for the second time and I took some water out. I think I maybe should have left what was in there and it wouldn’t have dropped below 45. That seems all fixed now. I turned the eggs this morning and everything adjusted back to the correct settings once the cover had been back on for a while.
When I got the eggs, I was hoping that a couple of hens would hatch for my Serama pair that I have here. Jilli, my Serama hen, has been laying soft-shelled eggs since I got her 8 months ago. I’ve tried all kinds of things such as adding calcium, working with her diet, giving them more space to fix the issue. The breeder said that Jilli had always laid hard-shelled eggs before. I have wondered if Jacques, my Serama rooster, wasn’t stressing Jilli and causing the soft-shells. I learned recently that the breeder did alternate hens that she had with her roosters so I wondered if Jilli wasn’t really compatible with Jacques or it was just a matter of her being the only hen was too much for her. As a last resort, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to keep Jacques and Jilli close to one another but separated. Not wanting to have any chickens be alone I attempted to find a couple of hens. I couldn’t find any locally so I decided to try to hatch some eggs.
I was really surprised at how I felt when the eggs arrived. I felt similar to how I felt when I picked up my last group of chicks. I had worried about them for two days while they were on a truck traveling here from Indiana. I was hoping at least a couple would survive. Seramas, I’ve heard, are harder to hatch and being shipped eggs that too could be a factor in the hatch rate.
As I opened the box and started to unwrap them, I became really nervous. I didn’t want to jostle them around at all after their long journey. I felt the same way putting them into the incubator, and each time that I’ve turned them. On Saturday and Sunday, I’ve found myself stressing over the temperature and humidity changes in the incubator. I know it’s unlikely that they will all hatch but now I’m thinking about 16 not just two. I want each egg to have the best possible chance to hatch and that means being a good mother hen and keeping an eye on the incubator. As soon as the eggs came, I felt incredibly responsible for 16 little lives. I’ll find out on the 3rd or 4th day, when I candle them, which are starting to develop. Between day 7 and 10 I should know for sure who is coming. I’ve been told what I will be looking for and I’ve seen pictures but I am really looking forward to seeing it myself.
As I was going to sleep last night, I was thinking about my broody hen who is currently sitting on a fake egg in the coop. She is my Orpington who does this frequently. If she was a Serama or some other bantam I’d think about letting her hatch the eggs because she seems to want to be a mom so badly.
My broody hen is relaxed on the nest. She is treating the fake egg as she would a real egg. She isn’t constantly thinking about her temperature. She goes out to the run once a day to eat and the egg is left there without her heat. I’ve seen her turn the egg once in all the times she has been broody so I’m pretty sure she is turning it much less often incubator was turning these eggs. I don’t know what she is doing about keeping the pointy end lower than the fat end but one thing that I do know is that she is much calmer than I am about trying to hatch eggs. I’m trying to simulate a mother hen with an incubator so I do have to keep an eye on the settings but I realized last night that a degree off for a little while probably isn’t going to kill them.
Once again, my chickens are teaching me something. My broody hen outside is teaching me to relax as I learn to hatch these Serama eggs.