Hatching Tales: The Year’s Last Guinea Hatch

The last group of guinea eggs for the year hatched at the beginning of the week. As with most hatches, not all of the eggs made it to the finish line…but we do have six healthy keets scurrying around in the brooder now.

Of 10 eggs that went into lockdown, 4 hatched unassisted, 2 hatched with assistance, 2 pipped but failed to hatch, and 2 failed to pip internally. Despite humidity of 77% at first (external) pip, the 2 eggs that pipped but failed to hatch were shrinkwrapped in the egg. I surmise that they took too long to zip and dried out…the inner membrane becomes sticky and encases them like concrete.

The 2 assisted keets were also shrinkwrapped in their eggs; one was completely dried into the inner membrane and would not have been able to emerge without intervention (and required a bath after hatch to de-crust it). The other was less dried into the shell, but had exhausted itself trying to get out and would also likely have died without intervention. Fortunately, both appear to be deformity-free (failure to get out of the egg can be an indicator of a leg development problem) and should thrive just like the other keets.

It’s such a inner struggle to wait to give the keets a chance to emerge on their own. Wait too long and, like the unlucky two, they die in the shell; intervene too soon and blood vessels in the membrane may bleed or chicks may hatch with unabsorbed yolks: both scenarios often result in bad outcomes. My strong preference is to let them hatch on their own, but I go with my gut if it feels like it’s been “too” long from pip and then I try to assist as little (and as gently) as possible.

The 2 that failed to pip internally appeared to have quit several days prior to hatch, based on the size of the unabsorbed yolks. It’s sad to see perfectly-formed hatchlings that never took their first breath of air…but it’s part of the incubation experience. Hatchlings that pip, start to zip, and then quit are even more disheartening. So close, and yet so far.

We’ve been seeing a strong slate gene influence in the previous hatches (about a third of each have been slate or pied slate), but this hatch is all pearl. No slate, no pied…that’s the genetic lottery for you. But they’re cute in any color, IMO!

It’s a six-pack of pearl keets, soon ready to decimate the tick population!