QUESTION: How can I hatch colored chicks for Easter?
ANSWER: Coloring Chick Embryos
The main purposes in coloring embryos are to provide a practical method of identifying chicks from different groups of eggs and so you can watch their movements after they leave the nest. In wildlife management studies, where identification and observation of ducks are difficult, identification and observation are made easy by coloring the embryos with bright dyes. It can also be used to provide colored Easter chicks for kids. The color is just on their fluff and only lasts a few weeks until their feathers grow in.
Coloring chick embryos provides the practice necessary to become skilled in the coloring technique while acquainting you with the tools and supplies students, researchers, and professional people use.
Equipment and Supplies
At a spot about ½ inch from the small end of the egg, daub an area about 1 inch in diameter with merthiolate. Dip the tip of the dental drill in merthiolate. Rotate the drill between your fingers while gently pressing the tip against the shell in the center of the daubed area. Rotate only until you make a hole in the shell.
Assemble the syringe and needle. Be sure they do not become contaminated by contact with foreign objects. Dip the needle in the merthiolate, and withdraw ½ cc. (cubic centimeter) or .5 ml. (milliliter) of dye. Insert only the tip of the needle in the hole and through the shell membranes. To prevent overflow, gently and slowly inject the dye. Remove the needle, seal the hole with paraffin, and return the egg to the incubator. Clean the syringe and needle by flushing them with distilled water each time you use a different color dye.
You can mix dyes to produce colors other than those available at local stores. You can inject them into chicken, duck, goose, and other species of eggs.
photos are of dyed Cornish/Rock chicks we offered for sale at Easter, 2004.
Click HERE to
see a whole page of photos.
luck and have fun!
partially from "The
Avian Embryo" by Dr. Tom Smith Jr. and Mississippi State Univ.