Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers

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Float test of egg viability

Living egg floats at an angleRemember how you can tell if an egg is too old to eat with a float test?  You can use a similar test on day 23 or 24 with eggs that haven't hatched to make sure the chicks inside are really dead.

The first step is to wait until most of your eggs have hatched.  I like to wait 24 hours after the last chick comes out of the shell, then take a close look at the remaining eggs to make sure none of them has pipped or been cracked.  (You don't want to do a float test on a pipped egg or the chick will drown.)  This test is mildly traumatic to a chick inside an unpipped egg, so there's no reason to risk it until you're getting ready to toss the unhatched eggs.

A "yolker" floats vertically.Now fill a container with water that's roughly baby bottle temperature --- warm enough that you can barely feel it when touched to the underside of your wrist.  (This is the same temperature water you use when proofing yeast for bread, about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.)  Wait until the water has stopped moving in the container, then take an egg out of the incubator and carefully lower it into the water with a spoon.

If your egg sinks to the bottom, it was probably infertile from the beginning and is definitely a dud now.  If it floats, take a careful look at the floating pattern.

Does the big end stick up above the water with the narrow end pointing straight down?  Your egg is probably a "yolker" that either was a dud from the beginning or died young.

On the other hand, if your egg floats at more of an angle, almost horizontally, the chick might be alive inside.  (The chick is definitely still alive if the egg starts to move around on its own.)  Carefully take the egg out of the water, wipe it dry, and pop it back in the incubator for another day or two.

In the past, I've been guilty of pulling late hatchers out of the incubator prematurely, but with this float test in my arsenal, I suspect my hatch rate will continue to rise.

Our chicken waterer is perfect for chicks as soon as they come out of the shell.

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I love to hatch eggs. Pls help me.
Comment by Andrewson victor Wednesday afternoon, September 12th, 2012
Andrewson --- I recommend you check out my incubation ebook. It's chock full of all the tips I learned during a couple of years trial and error perfecting my hatching techniques.
Comment by anna mid-morning Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
Hi this is my second time I hatched chickens, first was a great success but the second was really bad, 4 of the 19 hatched prior to 21 days so I left the other alittle longer to day 24, today I had enough so I cracked the egg open to find the chick not sure whether it was dead but it was fully formed but had its eyes closed so presumed it was dead, there wasn't any smell at all, I know I can't save these ones but if I'm knowledgable I can not make the same mistake, please help!
Comment by Laura in the wee hours of Friday night, August 8th, 2015
Laura --- There's a checklist in our Incubation ebook that can help walk you through troubleshooting a problematic hatch. Good luck!
Comment by anna at lunch time on Monday, August 10th, 2015

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