Come See Baby Chicks Hatching In Our Living Room!

velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)April 26, 2008

As promised, my husband and I have set up a live webcam so you guys can watch chicken eggs hatch into cute fluffy chicks! :)

The link to the live webcam is below. We chose to use the Stickam site, hopefully it can handle the bandwidth demands. The Chickam will mostly be operating during the daylight hours at first for the incubator (we turn off the lights at bedtime), then 24 hours when we move it to the brooder box. The color camera is a playstation2 EyeToy usb camera, but there will not be sound with the picture, and no camera controls for viewers.

Watching baby chicks hatch is fascinating and fun for all ages. We currently have 46 assorted chicken eggs in a Little Giant still-air incubator, scheduled to hatch out late Saturday night, April 26 and Sunday, April 27, 2008. But they may jump the gun a bit and start hatching anytime Saturday, so the cam is live now! The eggs are all from our backyard flock of mixed breed chickens here in suburban Los Angeles, California.

The camera will first be on one of the viewing windows (hence the kinda foggy look)of the incubator so you can watch the chicks hatch, then on the brooder box so you can see them run, play and interact with each other. We plan on having the camera operating until at least Wednesday, April 30th, possibly two more days beyond that. This is assuming the eggs hatch--we have not candled them, so we may have zero hatch, we may have ALL of them hatch, or anywhere in between. This incubator has worked well for us in the past though, so we see no reason why it would fail now.

Chicken eggs need 21 days of incubation in order to hatch. The breeds represented in this batch of eggs are below, the mother hens' name is in parenthesis, and if I knew which hen was mom, I wrote her name on her eggs:

2 Buff Orpington (Betty) ~~large brown eggs~~

8 New Hampshire (Maggie) and/or Kraienkoppe (Baby) ~~smaller brown eggs~~

5 Buff Laced Polish (Sugar) ~~long white eggs~~

6 White Crested Black Polish (Poof) ~~round white eggs~~

7 Blue Wheaten Americaunas (Louise)~~round, pale blue eggs~~

2 Unknown breed (Bear) ~~large, army-green eggs~~

2 Jersey Giant/ Americaunas mix (Skitters) ~~smaller, olive green eggs~~

2 Frizzled Buff Cochin (Moet) ~~small beige eggs~~

1 Black Silkie (Fuzz) ~~small beige eggs~~

1 Kraienkoppe (Baby)~~small brown eggs~~

2 Buff Cochin (Chicken Sister) ~~small beige eggs~~

4 Asst. Bantam (?) ~~small beige eggs~~

3 Asst. Americaunas (?) ~~large greenish-blue eggs~~

The fathers of the chicks are our Blue Wheaten Americaunas/Barred Rock mix standard size rooster and our Belgian d'uccle MilleFleur/Frizzle mix bantam rooster. The 'X' and 'O' marks you see on the eggs were used to tell which eggs we'd turned during the incubation process. The eggs have to be turned by hand three times a day for the entire 21 days, and you need to be able to tell at a glance which ones have been turned and which haven't! During the initial stage of hatching, the eggs will rock back and forth and move a bit, and faint peeping can be heard. Then the chick will 'pip', which means it pecks a little hole in the eggshell. After that, it will continue to pip, working in a circle until it has pipped all the way around the wide end of the egg. The amount of time it takes from first pip to a fully hatched out chick can be a matter of minutes or hours, even as much as a day.

Fresh chicks are exhausted, wet and helpless for a few hours, but as they dry out in the incubator they will become more steady on their feet and will soon be running around, bumping into other chicks and eggs. This is normal.

We will be opening the incubator from time to time to remove dry chicks and place them in the brooder box. Once we get most of them into the brooder box, we will switch the camera to it. Here's what a previous hatch looked like--this is NOT the current hatch:

The brooder box is just a large cardboard box gleaned from a local furniture store, with wood shavings underfoot, a heat lamp overhead to keep the chicks warm, and food and water. The chicks will live in this box in our living room, with occasional trips outdoors, for the first two months of their lives, until they are old enough to join the flock outside. We plan on keeping a few of the chicks, the rest we will take to our local feed store for them to resale.

For us this is a trying time...we can't help but worry, LOTS of things can go wrong during the incubation process and hatch that can prove fatal to the chick. It takes superhuman restraint to resist assisting a chick who is struggling to hatch. You have to just trust in Mother Nature A LOT and keep your damned hands outta there!

We hope you will enjoy the chicks! I'll be happy to answer any chicken questions, and I'll post updates when new chicks hatch. The picture isn't the best, and is heavily pixelated, but it's still fun. Here's a link to the cam:

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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

Velvet Sparrow, this is so cool! I just checked in (7:50 pm EST) and it looks like no action yet, but I bookmarked the page so I can check back regularly.

I was going to add a few store-bought chicks this spring, but then I decided to let my hens hatch a few if they decide to go broody. I am missing having peeps around. I cannot imagine, however, if you have a 75 percent hatch, having all those stinky, dusty, noisy chicks in your living room for two months! As cute as they are, I'd be inclined to move them out to the barn way sooner than that!

Good luck! I hope we'll see some pipping soon!


    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 7:51PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Well, we'll be keeping some, but a lot are going to go to our local feed store for them to resale. We know and trust them to take good care of any birds we take in. :)

The hard part is selecting which chicks to keep, and trying to avoid keeping any roo boys!

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 8:08PM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

Yes, if there's a trick to avoiding the roos, please share it with the rest of us! That's my worry with letting the hens go broody.

Looks like you have a wonderful collection of hens, so I bet you get some neat chicks from those eggs.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 8:17PM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

How exciting! what a neat idea! I can't wait to see how things progress :)


ps. we've pretty much got the "helping" thing down. If the chick starts pippling and hasn't hatched after 24 hours we help them out. This past batch we actually saved one that hadn't even pipped but was past due. It turned out on the two we helped the membrane and shell were super tough, there was no way those little fuzzles could have made it out on their own. They are now doing very well! I know most people discourage the above practice but we got too sick about all the fully formed dead chicks that never made it... nature can be cruel.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 11:20AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Well, things aren't looking good, here. :(

No pipping or hatching yet, I'm really afraid this is going to be a 100% failure. It was 21 days at 9:30PM last night. It figures, since we went to all the trouble of setting up a webcam to share the experience!

We're going to leave the eggs in the incubator until Wednesday, and if this batch doesn't work we'll try again. It may be that it's time for a new 'bator, this one is around 6 years old.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 4:12PM
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I've been sitting here and at least every 25 min checked the cam with my nose almost touching the screen so I would be sure not to miss anything. Like that would have helped LOL Good Luck I hope at least some of them hatch.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 6:52PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Well, still no babies. :( We're going to candle the eggs in a few hours and see if there are any chicks in there.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 10:41PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Well, we just found out that the incubator thermometer is giving a false reading of 100 degrees when it is actually 94.3 in there. None of the eggs even developed. So we're getting a new thermometer tomorrow and trying again with fresh eggs.

At least it wasn't the incubator, cause that really had me scratching my head. Still, no cute fuzzies tonight. :(

In three weeks, there WILL be hatching eggs! I'll start a new post when we are SURE of chicks.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 12:32AM
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Awww....sorry about your hatch. Thanks for setting a camera up.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 12:56AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

We're going to do it least the eggs never developed, which is FAR superior to dead-in-shell chicks. I hate those. :(

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 1:22AM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)


I'm glad you didn't have partial chicks, that's always so sad and a bit gruesome. We will look forward to the new announcement of "Chickam" being up and running!


    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 7:38AM
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When will the next batch be ready to hatch?
I can't wait to see them!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 4:00PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

The next batch is due to hatch this coming Saturday, the 24th! :) We'll have the cam running again, have found a better site to host it, too.

We got a new thermometer for the old 'bator, and we have the old and new incubators running side by side, new on the left, old on the right:

I was amused by how little the design of the new incubator had changed since we bought the old one years ago. The new one has a bunch of eggs, the old just a few:

Disregard the thermometers in the old 'bator, we took those out and installed a new one, not pictured here. The cam will be pointed at the new incubator, that's why the eggs in it are numbered--people on another site were betting on which egg would hatch first, so this time we numbered them. *G*

On Wednesday we are going to candle the eggs--some of those eggs have ridiculously strong, thick shells and are dark to boot, so we had to wait until this week to candle.

I'll let everyone know when and where the cam is up & running in plenty of time for the hatch. So hopefully cute little balls of fluff on Saturday! :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 4:34AM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)

Oooh, I'm so excited! I can't wait. How nice that it will be a holiday weekend -- lots of time to be glued to the computer screen waiting for action!


    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 6:53AM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

Oh what fun! I can't wait :)


    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 8:46AM
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velvet, Good luck with this new batch.

I showed my 12 yr old daughter the pic of your incubaters and she asked why do you use an incubator if you have mother hens.

I guessed it was because you didn't want different aged chicks all at the same time. Was I close to correct ;)


PS: My ten day old chicks are doing great. its amazing to watch the mother hen teach them everything they need to know.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 3:30PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Broody hens ARE far superior! :) But I promised my daughter and a bunch of the neighborhood kids that they could watch the chicks hatch. It's a way cool experience. Also, I wanted to do the Chickam thing, and mama hens keep their feathered little butts clamped down over those eggs so you can't tell when actual hatching is going on.

Lastly, I have some leg bands ready--I'm looking to keep only a few of the chicks, and I am after specific chicks from specific moms, so I need to see who hatches from which egg. :)

Besides, the last time I let a broody hen hatch 5 eggs...she hatched FIVE ROOSTERS!

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 12:53AM
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johanna_h(Z5 SW MI)


It's Friday now. Any noise in those incubators??? I have a Black Australorp who seems to be going broody and I want to post some photos of just-hatched chicks in the coop to encourage her!!!


    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 7:37AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

^^^ Hahaha...I once had to buy eggs at the market while my girls were molting, I brought them home and made a point to show the eggs to the girls to remind them what they looked like. Laying started up again shortly thereafter. :)

Well...we checked both incubators and candled the eggs we could see into last night. A lot of them were clear, especially the Polish eggs. :( But I don't see my Polish ladies getting much action from my roos, the dumb boys!

Other eggs have chicks, but I could not tell if they were alive or not, and how fully formed they are.

No peeping or activity yet from any of the eggs, but they aren't due to hatch until beginning at 8PM Saturday night. If none of these hatch, I don't know what to think...I know that both of my roo boys are getting their job done and I don't think they have fertility issues, they are healthy fellas.

We did change locations for the incubators this year, to my dining room table, in a corner of a room away from windows and doors to help protect from drafts. I THOUGHT I had a great spot, but if this batch doesn't work I'm going back to putting the darned things in the kitchen. :(

On top of everything else, we are having weird weather here since yesterday, supposed to continue until Tuesday--wind, rain/hail, and tornadoes, of all things! If the power goes out, I have my broody hen contingency plan...Bear, Splash and Blue are all broody and would get to sit on the eggs. :)

We checked the cam last night and have it all set up and ready to go, if hatching begins we'll fire it up and I'll notify everyone.

Time will tell!

Velvet !:>

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 12:04PM
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