Today is day 18 and that means LOCKDOWN!! YAY!!
I candled the eggs one last time last night. I could see little heads moving around and toes flexing. Over the next two to three days they are just getting bigger. All of the assorted parts are fully formed now. They will absorb the rest of the yolk sac and their "belly button" will close up. That yolk sac is what provides nutrients over the next several days. Chicks don't really need to eat or drink for the first 24 hours due to the nutrition this yolk provides.
In the next day or so they will start pecking through to the air cell at the large end of the eggs. Sometimes you can hear them start chirping inside the shell. Sometimes you can see the eggs start rocking around as the chick squirms around.
Somewhere around day 20-21 they will peck through the outer shell. This is called pipping. Once they have a hole pipped, they will "zip". It is just what it sounds like. They peck around in a circle until the top pops off the egg, just like you unzipped it. Sometimes there isn't any time at all between pipping and zipping. Something they like to take a little nap to work up to the zipping part. Generally though it doesn't take them more than 24 hours between pip and zip.
Once the shell has been pipped and zipped the little chick will push furiously with its little legs until it pops out of the remaining shell. They are wet and kind of slimy when they pop out. Generally they lay there cheeping and panting for a bit. Eventually though they will get their wobbly legs up under them and stagger around the incubator. Once one is out it becomes a game of chick rugby in there as they careen around and into the other eggs. It can get quite chaotic as some are toddling about and others are working their way out of the shell. Eventually they will all settle down for a long nap.
I leave them in the incubator for around 24 hours after hatch. Or until I can't stand it anymore. Generally I let them dry out in the incubator. Once they look mostly fluffed out I move them to the heated brooder. Moving them is a guessing game because once you open that incubator you make it hard for all the remaining chicks. You can kill the remaining chicks by opening the lid at the wrong time. Hopefully this lot will all come out together. Once one makes it out the others can hear it cheeping. This seems to encourage them all and all of a sudden you will have a ton of pips and enthusiastic zippers.
Still nothing much to see in there. Temps are holding steady at 99 degrees and humidity has been upped to 55%. The lid is closed and will stay that way until we have babies! Stay tuned. Unless something goes horribly wrong we should have babies by Saturday!