Embryology 101

incubator with eggs - instagram

For the first time ever, The Edible Schoolyard is incubating eggs! We’re very excited to be participating in a 4-H program that provides 2nd grade teachers with incubators, fertilized eggs, and embryology curriculum for 25 days. Students in these classrooms chart the development of their eggs over the 21 day incubation period, and then care for the chicks for 4 days after they hatch. Then the chicks are given to local, small farms in Guilford County! What an excellent program, and we are truly excited to follow the development of our chicks here at The Edible Schoolyard.

After we received our embryology materials, we selected a place for our incubator that was temperature regulated and away from doors, windows, vents, and direct sunlight. Next, we added water to the plastic “channels” at the bottom of the incubator; this moisture will create humidity, a necessary component for the hatching process. Next, we numbered the eggs and labelled each with an “X” on one side and an “O” on the other.

x 2 egg

o 2 egg

Each day, we will turn the eggs over 3 times, and the X’s and O’s will simplify that process. Turning the eggs will ensure that the embryo does not stick to the membrane. Imagine a mama hen sitting on her eggs: she is constantly moving them around underneath her! And, in order to mimic the body temperature of a hen, our incubator self-regulates at a  constant temperature of 100 degrees F.

Today is Day 2 of The Edible Schoolyard’s incubating process. According to MSU Extension Service’s embryology website, here’s what has happened so far inside the eggs:

First day
16 hours – first sign of resemblance to a chick embryo
18 hours – appearance of alimentary tract
20 hours – appearance of vertebral column
21 hours – beginning of nervous system
22 hours – beginning of head
24 hours – beginning of eye

Second day
25 hours – beginning of heart
35 hours – beginning of ear

And tonight, after 42 hours of incubation, their heats will begin to beat.

How amazing!!!! We’ll continue to share the embryology process with you as it progresses. And just so you know….. the projected hatch date for our chicks is March 4th!



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