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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had heard that the hardest part of hatching Seramas was on the last day of incubation - when a number of them just refuse to hatch, but this is ridiculous. I had one try to hatch yesterday. It managed to make the tiniest hole, before giving up. His peeping was really quiet from the onset. I waited twenty four hours... and he was still alive but had made no progress. I know you're not supposed to help them but at that point I did. Chick was super lethargic and died a few hours later. Not surprising... OK, I can handle a loss here and there...

Four more chicks have hatched but one died an hour later. Of the three left only one seems healthy and peeping the rest seem lethargic. Exasperated. Is this normal? A side effect of having shipped eggs? Some weird genetic thing? (both the dead ones were the same color - blue with a little blond mixed in.) I'm not so sure I will try this again if it is this much of an exercise in frustration. Hope someone survives. Got two more eggs that have yet to start hatching but have developed chicks in them and two more eggs on top of that I wasn't really sure about. Will keep updated...
 

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I know it can be hard to not open the incubator and help them but by opening the bator during hatching it can cause shrink wrapping, which hurts the chicks and can kill them. I dount it had anything to do with the eggs being shipped, otherwise they would have died before developing. After you helped the first chick, what did you do? Did you help the others as well? Did you keep opening the bator? Did you give them anything in the bator like food or water?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
There's paper towel in the bottom. I only opened the 'bator twice. The first time was to remove the one who was trying to hatch but hadn't succeeded in 24 hours. At that point no one else had cracked their eggs yet. The second time was to remove the dead one (it was obvious it was dead - pancaked there.) The three remaining haven't started standing/walking yet so I haven't bothered to do anything else. Will take them out when I feel they're ready and am certain no one else is on their way. On the positive side one of them is starting to pep up a bit. Looks like its trying to stand. Other two still appear exhausted and are taking naps.
 

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The last 3 may perk up after a few hours - 24 hours. Just let them stay in the bator until all dry. Breakng out of the shell is really hard work and chicks are usually lethargic for hours afterwards.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The three survivors are perking up but it doesn't look like their siblings (still in their egg cozies) have any intention of joining them anytime soon. I suppose they still have time. It's day 20 here. Seramas can hatch anywhere between day 18-21. I find this unpredictability annoying at times....

I will hope for the best for these three and hope their 2-4 eggmates join the party. Will keep updated! These wee ones are so much different than the large fowl mixes I hatched a few weeks ago. Those little buggars... they really wanted to come out of their eggs! Had one hatch in 15 minutes all by their lonesome. I was shocked. They're doing well, so I guess I am not that bad at incubating. It is just Seramas have to be more challenging! :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, here's the final report.... We lost four chicks during the hatching process - most just pecked the smallest hole before giving up entirely (which didn't take them long at all.) Three of those all looked the same - like a frosted blue - which made me wonder if they were from the same hen/genetically weaker than the rest. There is good news though! There are six survivors! They're a bit wobbly but are otherwise doing well. I will consider shipping Serama eggs again. It's just very frustrating to have them make it all the way to hatch day and then abruptly die. I think I would have rather had a "quitter" at a week of incubation... but that's just me.

 

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Maybe this might help
http://www.malaysianseramabantams.com/incubationhatching.htm

Hatching is an interesting art. Pretty much all incubator instructions will tell you to set temp at around 100F and humidity at 50% till DAY 18 and then increase humidity to 65% till DAY 21 when, ideally, eggs hatch.

Frankly, there is a lot more to it. Chicken eggs may take 21 days to hatch, however, the rest is recipe. Bantam eggs need different heat and humidity settings from Standard breeds. While most Standard breeds do hatch out well under the accepted incubation settings, some breeds, especially heritiage breeds, don't. My opinion, this is why so many people fail or have poor hatch rates and the chicks they do manage to hatch out have defective legs [splayed] and curled toes.

I'm stressing I am no expert. I am just someone who has been struggling to hatch houdans. I have been struggling for a couple of years. Over the past year, I have been studying about hatching and have learned that what we believe to be the ideal recipe for hatching eggs is flawed. One recipe simply does not work on all breeds of chicken eggs. Some breeds require temperature adjustments throughout the hatch starting around DAY 12 and humidity settings as high as 70% on DAY 21.

The secret is something I leanred by reading the methods of commercial hatcheries. Particularly the research done by PAS REFORM. It's called Optimum Egg Shell Temerature. Simply put: As the chick developes inside the egg, it will generate its own heat. As the chick grows, the temperature setting of the incubator should be adjusted so that the egg shell measures 100.0F to 100.2F. To check the temperature, you need a thermometer that uses infrared radiation that measures human body temperature of 37 - 40C. These can be bought at any pharmacy. Braun ThermoScan is one brand but it can be expensive at around $70. I bought one that is an in store brand that only cost me $35.

Testing is simple. On DAY 7 when you go to candle your eggs, take your thermometer and touch the tip around the middle of the egg. The temp of the egg should be close to your incubator setting. Be sure to test before candling and quickly as the eggs will lose heat within a couple of minutes. I find all I need do is test a few eggs to get a generalize reading.
Repeat the above test on DAY 14 when you again candle. The egg temerature may read a bit higher as the chick is now bigger than at DAY 7. From DAY 12 till DAY 18, slight temperature reductions of a sinlge point or two may be needed to offset the higher temperature of the developing chick. At DAY 18, your final candle before lockdown should show the egg temperature around 100F to 100.2F.
This is what I have found. On DAY 18, some breeds may require the incubator temperature lowered to 98.0F in order for the chick to do well going into its finally days. If the incubator isn't adjusted, the chick becomes heated inside the egg and will likely fail to hatch.

There is so much more to this. If you are serious about your hatching and want to learn what I have, you may want to read this
http://www.pasreform.com/academy/fr.../incubation/30-managing-the-hatch-window.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Looks like your post got cut of.... I did read the article though, again. (I read it before this.) It didn't seem to answer any questions but I will keep looking.

Anyway, I am new to breeding chickens but am by no means new to breeding animals. I am watching these guys very closely to learn everything I can. I guess I just got spoiled with the mixed common large fowl. They were so easy to hatch it wasn't funny. These Seramas.... are so different. The two I hatched before this batch didn't just survive but thrived after the incubator spiked at 102 repeatedly. They peeped, were active, and came out of the egg with no problem. They were also bred from two birds that were too large to compete in shows. I am NOT a show breeder and I knew larger birds had better fertility rates.

Anyway... upon watching these guys I have made a few observations. The entire clutch is/was quiet and almost lethargic. I mean four chicks making one crack in the egg before giving up?? What is that about? The ones that did hatch took 24 hours to stand up... Some had to be rescued because they were on their backs flailing like flipped turtles. I have been looking at them and I think the ones who were doing that might be "extreme" Seramas... you know the ones you often see at shows which have this really unnatural looking posture with their head popped so far back it hits their tail feathers. Here is a photo to show you what I mean (it's not my bird, although the following photo will be just for comparison.)





The reason I bring this up is the chicks that seemed to have the most difficulty walking seem to have this over exaggerated pose. If this is the case I will not be keeping them for breeding... I think it might be half the problem these chicks have such a high death-in-shell rate. I do not believe in breeding any deformity which limits an animal's natural movement or abilities - I am not certain if extreme Seramas fall under this category but I am making an educated guess they might....

Is this what you are doing with the Houdans? Just trying to improve general hatch rates? Are they a rare breed? Do they suffer from a small gene pool? (if you don't mind me asking.)
 

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Looks like your post got cut of.... I did read the article though, again. (I read it before this.) It didn't seem to answer any questions but I will keep looking.

Anyway, I am new to breeding chickens but am by no means new to breeding animals. I am watching these guys very closely to learn everything I can. I guess I just got spoiled with the mixed common large fowl. They were so easy to hatch it wasn't funny. These Seramas.... are so different. The two I hatched before this batch didn't just survive but thrived after the incubator spiked at 102 repeatedly. They peeped, were active, and came out of the egg with no problem. They were also bred from two birds that were too large to compete in shows. I am NOT a show breeder and I knew larger birds had better fertility rates.

Anyway... upon watching these guys I have made a few observations. The entire clutch is/was quiet and almost lethargic. I mean four chicks making one crack in the egg before giving up?? What is that about? The ones that did hatch took 24 hours to stand up... Some had to be rescued because they were on their backs flailing like flipped turtles. I have been looking at them and I think the ones who were doing that might be "extreme" Seramas... you know the ones you often see at shows which have this really unnatural looking posture with their head popped so far back it hits their tail feathers. Here is a photo to show you what I mean (it's not my bird, although the following photo will be just for comparison.)





The reason I bring this up is the chicks that seemed to have the most difficulty walking seem to have this over exaggerated pose. If this is the case I will not be keeping them for breeding... I think it might be half the problem these chicks have such a high death-in-shell rate. I do not believe in breeding any deformity which limits an animal's natural movement or abilities - I am not certain if extreme Seramas fall under this category but I am making an educated guess they might....

Is this what you are doing with the Houdans? Just trying to improve general hatch rates? Are they a rare breed? Do they suffer from a small gene pool? (if you don't mind me asking.)
I would say that if you already hatched out seramas with no problem, then I would definetely look at the genetics of the stock whom you got the eggs from. I only know a little bit about seramas. There was a fellow I knew that had them a few years ago. He did mention to me that the smaller seramas which are the desired sized, he found to have fertility issues. Seems the smaller you go, birds are often infertile. Didn't get into the hatching of them, but I would guess if the small sized have fertility issues then they just may have hatching issues too.

I love houdan questions :)
Yes, the incubator adjustments are what I am working on with my houdans. Houdans have not only a small gene pool in the US and even a smaller one here in Canada, but it is what I call a messed-up gene pool caused by too much cross breeding with polish. I am trying to improve my hatch rates using research I have read about in regards to heritage breeds needing different temperature and humidity rates. So far it seems to be working but it does take some experimenting. The work PAS REFORM has done can be applied to any incubator where the temperature and humidity can be adjusted.
 

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How the temperature / humidity adjustments came about was another breeder I am working with tried tweeking the temperature settings on their houdan hatches and noticed that on DAY 18 on lockdown, the hatches did better when the temperature was slightly dropped and the humidity was increased slightly higher than the recommended 65% during the last 3 days of incubation. In my hatches, I observed that when I hatched my polish in the same incubator as my houdans, the polish chicks hatched fine but all my houdans still has not absorbed their yolk sacs as if they were around DAY 20. We both use Brinseas with humidity pumps so we were able to control to the point degree with our temps.

That's when I started to research and found this article.
http://www.aviculture-europe.nl/nummers/11E06A06.pdf
It was like finding a rosetta stone for me.

Anyone having success with their hatches likely won't need this info. However, I think anyone who is trying to hatch a breed where they are having little to no success and they think it may be their incubation, it's certainly worth a look into. It may also be of help to anyone who has leg and toe problems with their hatched chicks.
 
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