Sunday, April 11, 2010

Temperature for hatching eggs

Dear David:

Hi , I have been reading most of your threads in the forums and your blogs for 3-4 years, and i decided to try my breeding program this year in my home town Hong Kong.

I bought 2 wild shamas last year from M'sia and they molted with no problems. I guess maybe because I'm using Masuri Insect Food so that they have enough vitamin. I paired them in March and they started to build the nest on 31th Mar.  I did not go close to watch them as they are quite scared of people so I cannot confirm there eggs in the nest until I do the cleaning today.  There are 3-4 eggs I guess as I just take a quick look inside the nest.

I would like to ask if you think the temperature in our place will be okay for the eggs to hatch ? Now is between 19-21 degrees. (the breeding cage is placed outdoor)

Do you suggest I should transfer the chicks to indoor when they hatched ?

Sorry to bother you , but I have not anyone who has experience to ask around my area.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Best Regards


Dear Stanley,

I am happy to assist.

It is often thought that eggs develop only when a parent is sitting.  This is not so.  Typically, the developing process starts when the temperature is above 21 degrees Centigrade. While development starts at this temperature, the developing process is too slow and if the temperature is not substantially increases the embryo will die. Typically for shamas, my experience in hatching the eggs in incubators is that a temperature of 37.4 degrees seems to be ideal. 

When the parent sits, she (some males will share the job) will be able to adjust the temperature in the nest to maintain a constant temperature.  If the temperature is too high, she will partially stand so as to lift her breast from the eggs.  If the temperature is too low, she will sit tighter on the eggs.

As eggs will start developing on their own at temperatures above 21 degrees C, I would guess that a temperature that varies between 19 to 21 is not too low for the eggs to hatch.  The parent will merely sit tighter and possibly leave the nest for shorter periods.  The fact that the female has chosen to lay the eggs at this time and sit on them suggests that she does not consider the temperatures to be too low.

When the chicks hatch,  I would suggest that they be left with the parents until they fledge. The chicks are tiny and it is difficult to hand-feed them without experience.  In a tropical climate like Singapore's the parent will stop sitting on the chicks after the third day of hatching.  Thereafter, the chicks body heat will provide their own warmth. By the time they leave the nest at about 11 days, the chicks will be fully feathered and able to withstand the cold.

Wishing you all the best.


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