The entire flock is, at the moment, back in lay. There are crouching hens everywhere, tripping me up when I go out to hang out the washing and interupting the children's football games. Egg production is up, and pelet consumption has gone crazy. During the winter, I was filling the feeder around once a week. Right now, it needs refilling every other day. The girls have big appetites.
The hot weather continues, so they are also powering through their water. I have to keep a close eye on it, as it's not uncommon for them to totally empty a full drinker by late afternoon. When they see me coming across the lawn with fresh, cool water I pick up a following. Before I've put the drinker down, there are small fluffy chicken heads diving in to it.
The balmy temperatures continue to cause me problems with regards to the hatching. In order to keep the incy temp down, I have taken to propping up one side of the cover with a pencil. This small extra ventilation seems to be working, but does lower humidity unfortunately. It is a delicate balancing act, and at this stage I am seriously winging it. Advice differs so greatly, that I've given up on asking. However, at candling yesterday I am pleased to report that there were five viable embryos. A small foetus could be seen, along with a complicated pattern of blood vessels. I confess to letting out a small squeal of delight.
The other egg was a dud. I could see the clear yolk, and more conclusively, the red ring around it. I have dubbed this the 'red ring of death'. It is bacterial growth, and marks the beginning of the egg turning bad. I assume that this egg was infertile to begin with, and being slow cooked for four days has speeded up the decomposition process. I rechecked it from every concievable angle before tossing it. A bad egg has the potential to explode in the incubator, spreading infection to the viable embryos.
So now they are five.