We turn on our Live Hatching Video camera when we transfer eggs into our hatcher every Friday morning. On Friday there is little visible hatching. The best time to watch the hatching process is Saturday evening and Sunday *. When we start removing the birds from the hatcher early Monday morning, the camera is turned off. Refer to our calendar if you want to watch a specific breed hatch.
We also have a
time lapse video of the hatching process.
This time lapse video condenses 40 minutes of hatch time into one minute of view time and shows two Pekin
If you attempt to watch the video without success, please contact us. It may be that we have reached the maximum number of people that can watch at one time. We can only solve the problem if you let us know how frequently we reach this maximum. When you report this problem in the email, please tell us the day and time you were unable to log on to the live video.
Hatching is a fascinating process. By the time we have transferred the eggs into the hatcher, the duck and turkeys have incubated 25 days, the guineas 24 days and the geese 27 days. The plan is for them to all hatch at the same time so they can all be mailed fresh on Monday.
The embryo first breaks into the air sac on Friday. As the air sac is fairly large (see the progression of incubation on our Egg Candling webpage), they can breathe that air for 6-12 hours. But then the oxygen is used up in the air sac and the hatching muscle contracts causing the embryo to strike upwards against the shell. It creates a small break in the shell that normally looks like a small pyramid but may simply be a crack or small hole. Once this is done, it is said to have "pipped" the shell and has access to more oxygen. The embryo now rests.
At this point, there is little external activity. But a great deal is occuring within the shell. Abdominal contractions and changing pressure in the thorax are used to suck the yolk sac inside the abdominal cavity. In addition, the chorio-allantoic membrane starts to close down and recede into the navel. This is the membrane under the shell through which oxygen was absorbed into the embryo's blood stream and carbon dioxide dispelled. But now that the bird is breathing with its lungs, this membrane is no longer needed and it begins to shrink and wither.
As this whole process may take up to two days, many people become concerned and want to help the hatching process. Now is not the time to do this. The yolk sac is not completely absorbed and many of the chorio-allantoic blood vessels are still active. If you break through the shell and rupture these blood vessels, the embryo can bleed to death.
However, once the yolk is absorbed and the blood is no longer circulating outside the embryo, and the embryo needs greater amounts of oxygen, it starts breaking the shell again. The bird's beak is under its right wing. It breaks and turns around the shell in a counterclockwise movement (looking at the large end of the egg), It will travel about 80% of the way around the egg, continually pushing with its legs until it is finally able to break open the "cap" and emerge from the egg. This final hatching process takes from 15 minutes to two hours.
The bird emerges and rests after this major exertion. After drying it starts to explore its surroundings and looks for good things to eat and drink. As it has just absorbed its yolk, it does not need food and water but its instinct is to find nutrition as soon as possible. They look for out-of-the-ordinary items to nibble - a black spot on a yellow back, a wiggly toe, some shining droppings or afterbirth, a fragment of shell, etc.. Most items are discarded and they continue their quest elsewhere. They will then rest again. You will see many hatched birds sleeping after their strenuous effort.
If you are incubating your own eggs, try not to help a bird hatch until it has started breaking and circling in the shell. Once it has started this movement, it means the yolk sac has been absorbed and the chorio-allantoic membrane is shut down. Do not help until there has been at least one hour with no more breakage. Gradually break the shell in the same circular pattern around the shell until you can pop open the "cap". Pull the head out from under the wing. Pull slightly on the embryo to make sure it has not become stuck to the membrane and shell and then leave the bird so it can emerge from the shell itself.
It is not true that you should never help a bird hatch. It could be that the environmental conditions in the incubator or hatcher were not ideal and the embryo got stuck in one spot due to inadequate humidity or the turner was not working properly and the bird could not position itself properly. These are problems with the incubator - not the egg and embryo. For this reason you do not want to assume that a bird that cannot hatch has a genetic or health problem.
* If Monday is a postal holiday, we set the eggs a day late so they
complete their hatching by Tuesday morning instead of Monday morning.
On these weekends, most hatching activity will be on Sunday and Monday.