Sunday, February 7, 2010

Egg update

So it was time for us to go through the incubator and remove unfertilized and other wise dead eggs.
This is always a fascinating process for me.
But you know me.
 And fortunately for me, my three little apples did not fall far from the tree.
So the first thing you need to do, is to candle the eggs. Basically you take a strong flashlight in a dark room, shine up through the shell and look for veins, air cell, a moving fetus, and that the embryo is the  appropriate size for it's gestation length. All of these markers will give tremendous insight into the health of the embryo.
For example this is a picture of an egg with a great air cell. It is the light ring in the top most section of the egg. It is illuminated by the light shining through.
 This is vital. The chick will pip through the membrane to get it's first breath of air and all the air it will need to get through the hatching process.
The size of this air chamber will also clue you into the incubating environment. If there is not enough humidity in the incubator, the air cell will be very large as it draws humidity from where the embryo is, leaving not enough space to the developing creature. If the air is too moist the air cell will be very small or non existent, Like this:
 When this occurs, and the chick is ready to hatch out, it will either drown or simply suffocate due to unavailable air.
 So as you can see the air cell is very important!
Anyway, we found two that we we knew were not fertile because there was no air cell, no veins, and no developed dark spots.
To further investigate whether it was a case of poor incubating conditions, or just a case of an unfertilized egg, we had to literally crack the case.
And as we suspected, they were not fertile. So how do you know if the egg is fertile, you ask?
Yes ,I can hear you asking.
In your head.
 Well, I will show you a picture of a fertilized egg with a blastoderm. You guys are just going to be so egg reproductive savvy.
 You won't even know what to do with yourselves.
You lucky little chickens, you.
OK, here is a pic. See that white donut spot on the yolk?

Yep, that right there is how you know if your egg is fertile. That's the blastoderm.
More info here.
Ok, so there were two others that we suspected that had ceased development. They were much smaller than the others, lacked vigorous veins and there was no apparent movement. One had no air cell, so it would not have made to the end anyway.
So we cracked them.
This one had ceased development at day 7 .
We can tell by this guide. All the others were already at day 9-10.
Even though we felt bad that these guys did not make it into our yard, we find it totally fascinating to peek into their development.
 The next one we cracked was much younger probably around day 6.
That one was particularly neat, as you could see all this stuff, like tissue folds, beside the chick that it would likely use to continue to form it's growing self.
Sure, but so insightful.
So now we have 6 healthy, moving embryos that we are so hopeful for. Hard to believe that they will be here in another 12 or so days.
Here's hoping the rest continue to thrive!


Shel said...

Love the update! That was so fascinating!

Stephanie said...

I don't see the donut thing. :/
That's amazing that they'll only need 12 more days!

mamak said...

Steph, it's a pale white ring on the surface of the yolk, it almost appears as a small glare. I will try and get a better photo for you.