The eggs I put in the incubator started hatching on the 30th, one day before they were supposed to hatch. Only two hatched that day. Most of them hatched on the 31st but one hatched on April 1st. Normally, the hatch drags out more than that. I think the reason they hatched more uniformly this time is because I swapped the eggs close to the edges of the incubator with the ones in the middle of the incubator twice. (The temperature in my incubator varies and eggs near the edges aren't as warm as the ones in the middle.)
All in all, it was a reasonably good hatch. Out of 54 eggs, I got 41 chicks. About eight eggs were infertile and five died before hatching. Normally, I have a lot of eggs that get a small hole in the shell and then die but this year, the only one that died when it was near hatching was backwards. (For you cattle people, when I say the chick was backwards it means that the chick's head was in the small end of the egg.)
I think the reason I had less die near hatching was because I got the chicks out of the incubator as soon as they hatched. Sometimes, chicks in an incubator will roll the hatching eggs upside down and the fluids in the egg will drown the hatching chick. (When I say upside down, I mean the chick's beak end up on the bottom side of the egg.)
I have a still air incubator so I tried to keep the temperature at about 102 on top of the eggs. I moved the thermometers around the incubator to make sure that there were no really cold or really hot spots. I also candled all the eggs at least once a week so I could find the dead or infertile eggs and get them out of the incubator so they didn't take up space.
Here's the incubator with the eggs in it. Some have already hatched and you can see that a few are hatching. I tried to give each egg as much room as possible so the air would circulate well.
A chick that just hatched and is still in the incubator.
The first chick to hatch.
The chicks in their box. I leave them in the box until they're all done hatching and learning to walk then I put them in the brooder house.
This is a deformed chick. The outside and middle toes are connected by the webbing. So far, the chick seems to be able to walk fine so I'm leaving it alone.
Happy Easter everyone!