The first hatchling from our batch of 24 eggs was a Speckled Sussex. According to my calculations, this little chick hatched about a day early—on the evening of March 10. (The eggs went into the incubator in the evening on February 18. Incubation is supposed to be 21 days. So, the eggs should have hatched on March 11.)
By the end of the day today (March 12) we had 13 chicks. We started with 24 eggs (I added one more after this post). After candling at 14 days, we eliminated 5 that did not develop at all; they must have not been fertilized. So, out of 19 eggs that showed signs of development, we have 13 healthy chicks. (No problems with unabsorbed yolks, crooked toes, or splayed legs. Yeah!) Of the 6 eggs that didn’t hatch, 3 showed no development (guess we need to work on our candling skills), and 3 had chicks that appeared to be quite developed, yet did not hatch. Makes me think we should have left the incubator turned on for another day.
This year, we did a few things differently: We set up the incubator in a room with a constant temperature of 68-70° (last year, it was set up in a much colder room); we used distilled water (well water last year); we occasionally took the eggs out of the incubator for 45–60 minutes for periodic cooling.
Speckled Sussex: 11 chicks from 18 eggs
Wheaten Ameraucana: 2 chicks from 6 eggs
In the photo, above, the yellow chicks are the Wheaten Ameraucanas, all the others are Speckled Sussex. The greens are bits of chickweed and dandelion leaves—we believe in fresh greens daily. We are raising the chicks in the same cardboard brooder that we used last year.