Monday, February 28, 2011

Eleven, Eleven Baby Chicks, Aaaah, aaaah, aaah

We jumped on an opportunity to rent an incubator and raise some chicks from eggs. We have done a whole unit on eggs and chickens.
We started with 18 fertilized eggs. We read all the instructions for the incubator which involved keeping a bottom tray partially filled with water to maintain humidity, maintaining a temperature of about 100 degrees F, and marking and turning the eggs daily.

Chicken eggs take 21 days to hatch. At day 6 we candled the eggs. We candled again at day 20 and removed two eggs that were obviously not fertile. On day 21 we started hearing cheeps from the incubator and saw tiny cracks in a couple of eggs. By the following evening, we had 11 healthy hatched chicks, and one that started hatching but didn't completely hatch.

We are keeping the chicks for a week then returning them and the incubator to the farm from which they came. They are so cute and fuzzy. They are relatively easy to care for. They need a heat lamp, water, and chick starter feed. We borrowed a cage to use as a brooder, and lined the bottom with pine shavings. Our two cats are very curious about them, but don't bother them much.
Our egg unit reading list:
Egg to chick by Millicent E. Selsam This is the most awesome book ever for this project. It shows the development of the chick at many stages. Be forewarned that is deals frankly with sexual reproduction.
The Chicken Book by Garth Williams
Chicks and Chickens by Gail Gibbons
An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni