Friday, January 17, 2014

Artificial Incubation - Part 3

[Trisno's letter of yesterday's date with my reply in red for easy reference]
Hi Trisno,
Glad to see that you are having success with your artificial incubation.  I answer your queries below:

Hi David,

How are you? Hope you are OK.

Just want to update and share my experiences with you related to my earlier email to you.

1.                  I have successfully hatched 1 shama egg (of 2 eggs) using the artificial incubation. Thanks for your advices on this. On 6 January 2014, I took 2 eggs from the nest and put them straight away in the incubator at the same day because I assume the eggs have been for more than two days in the nest. Do you think if this is the case I still have to wait for one to two days before placing it to the incubator based on your explanation whereby a fresh egg should not be immediately placed to the incubator?

DDS: I think the advice that the eggs should be placed in the incubator only a couple of days after it is laid is meant to imitate what happens when the female shama itself broods the eggs.  In the wild and often in captivity, the female will not start to sit until the 2nd last, or last, egg is laid.  This means that the first 2 eggs (out of say, 4 eggs) will not be actively incubated until the 3rd or 4th egg is laid.  I do not think it is critical to wait for 2 days before artificially incubating the eggs.

2.                  On fifth day of incubation (10 January 2014), the electricity is off for more than 5 hours. On the second hours when the electricity is off, I put the eggs to my old incubator (using 2 lamps) whereby the heat comes from the candle which is lighted under the incubator. However, the temperature for sure becomes highly uncontrollable. Do you have any similar experiences when the power is off?

DDS: In the place where I stay, the electricity supply is reliable and I do not have experience with power failure when incubating the eggs.  If this is a problem where you live, you may want to consider getting a standby battery that will automatically switch on whenever there is a power failure, such as what is available for computers. 

It may interest you to know that, as an experiment, I have artificially hatch poultry eggs in a homemade incubator.  I used an oil lamp with a short wick that is placed in a box with holes in the sides.  I can keep the temperature reasonably constant by the number, size and location of the holes.  A tray of water is put in the box to provide the humidity.  As you no doubt know from the lessons in school, hot rises and cool air will replace it.  In effect, this is what a still-air incubator does.  The eggs will need to be turned by hand several times a day.  With shama eggs, I think turning 3 to 4 times a days is sufficient.

3.                  Right after the electricity was on, I candled the eggs for the first time which the result was the moving embryos lived in those eggs. However, in the third candling on 14 January 2014, I found one egg did not develop while the other has developed and the embryo has been dark and filled the entire egg. Do you think the shut power has affected the said egg? I understand that the “living egg” must be separated from the “dead egg” which can arise a toxic gas. The question will be how much is the affect for the "living egg" if it remains to be incubated with the "dead egg" since this case is normal in natural incubation?
DDS: The electricity shut-down could have affected egg development.  If the eggs are together for the length of the incubation period, I do not think that the spoilt eggs will affect the other eggs.  As you note, in normal incubation, all the eggs continue to remain together in the nest for the period of incubation.
4.                  In the morning of 16 January 2014 (in the beginning of 11th day), the egg was successfully hatched (the photo is attached). On the first day, the chick is fine and I do not have any problems with chick feeding based on your advice.

DDS: Wonderful.  Just bear in mind not to overfeed the chick.  More chicks die from overfeeding than underfeeding.

5.                  The shama pair of this egg is indeed incredible. Previously, I have actually paired this male shame with 5 females, but it always fails since the male always fights and bites all the females. The funny thing when pairing these shamas, this last female fights back to death and bites the male shama until the male finally surrender and welcome the female. I get this female shama from my friend in Aceh who is also an administrator of Thanks Om Herry. 

DDS: It is a good sign when the male gives in to the female.  He is much more powerful than the female and can easily kill her if he chooses.  I have great admiration for Om Herry who is popularly known as HerryAcheh and I regularly visit his blog.  Herry is very knowledgeable about shamas and, I think,  has contacts to obtain them from trappers. If you are interested in breeding long-tailed shamas, Herry may be able to assist since Acheh is the only province in Indonesia that is known to still have long-tailed shamas in the wild.

6.                  If you don’t mind, I will come back to you with more update on the chick.

DDS: I will be delighted to have further news on the progress of the chick.

Best regards,


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