Wow. This week at ImaginAcres has been just like something out of Alien. Every time I go to candle these eggs I get creeped out all over again. I was candling the eggs on day 5 and 7, you wouldn’t believe how much development you can see!
For those of you who haven’t been following, we’re incubating ten eggs from our chickens this month. We started off with fifteen, but only found ten of the fifteen to be fertile and developing properly. The other five have been removed from the incubator to avoid the risk of them developing nasty stinky bacteria inside and then BLOWING UP all over the place. Yes, this really happens, and having to clean up rotten egg goo sounds like the worst job on the planet.
This week we’ve been candling our eggs. Candling is when you shine a super bright light through the egg and you can see the creepy contents inside. This is where the Alien remark comes from. We’ve been watching the teeny embryos swimming around inside their shell for two days now. Every time I’m intently watching the egg and suddenly see an eye ball swim past the surface I can feel my skin crawl and my jaw drop. Yes, it’s that amazing EVERY TIME.
For those of you that have seen a baby moving around on an ultrasound, you can understand…except instead of seeing your precious child growing inside of you, you’re watching a descendant of dinosaurs squirm inside of a calcified orb. So maybe not quite the same.
Now with that image in your head, onto the photos!
First I’m going to show you some photos from candling on Day 5, which was Sunday. On this day, the embryos’ reproductive organs were formed. Way to go little embryos!
You can see a lot of veining in this photo, and the air sac is clearly defined at the large end of the egg. The embryo is contained in that dark shadow on the top.
That super dark spot next to the pencil lines is the chick’s eye. At this point in development, the eye takes up a huge portion of the embryo’s head and is easy to see through the egg.
This photo was also taken on day 5. The embryo is in the very center of the ‘O’ with the veins spidering out from it. We could see a little movement in there but nothing compared to the videos taken today!
Just for reference, here’s a photo of an unfertilized or undeveloped egg. On day 5 you should see veining and maybe the shadow of the embryo, but this egg that was candled on day 5 looks exactly the same as an egg candled before incubation:
I suspected that egg had a detached yolk, as it was freely floating all around the egg when I turned it. Since I knew it wasn’t fertilized, I broke it open in a bowl before throwing it away. Curiosity got the better of me. When we candled, I could see that dark spot on the egg through the shell. I thought it was a developing chick, but no, a rotting egg. Very good thing I got that thing out of the incubator before it started to stink!
On day seven (today) we candled again. By day seven the embryo’s organs have all formed and a teeny little beak is beginning to take shape. The heart, which was formed outside of the body, moves inside the body on this day. Our little blobs are truly becoming birds now. It’s weird to think that they’re inside that incubator at this very moment, working so hard to form their mouth and suck their heart inside their bodies, and I’m just sitting here on my couch, drinking coffee and staring at my computer. I’m tellin’ ya, incubating chicks makes me feel like a real lazy good-for-nothing.
Here’s a video of egg #1, who has consistently been the most active embryo in the bunch. It looks like it’s dancing every time I shine a light on it. I can’t wait to see what kind of crazy chicken comes out of this egg! You can very clearly see the veins in this one, and in the very beginning you can see the embryo’s eyeball- coming across as a dark spot- swim across the surface of the egg. Creepy, yes?
If you had your speakers on…that’s Bob Marley in the background. He helps me wake up in the mornings. Maybe I’ll name one of the chicks Marley. Whoever is inside egg #1 certainly seems to dig it!
Here’s our second video of embryo movement, a little harder to see but fascinating none-the-less!
Our chicks are due to hatch on April 2nd. I’ll be sure to post plenty more photos and videos before then, so be prepared for more embryonic chicken weirdness to come.
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