Research about hatching and raising ratites like emus, ostriches and rheas is ongoing at the University of Florida and Oregon State University. Individuals and breeder associations are also compiling data. While there are general areas of consensus, there are no hard fast specifics at this time. This is very understandable, as body heat and moisture vary from bird to bird, and most institutions and breeders are working with eggs from different gene pools.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Fertile emu eggs
- Egg rotators (optional)
Using a soft tip marker, number each egg in one place. Record the weight for each of the eggs. Set up a chart with the starting weight and space for the daily weight for the next 56 days. If you are rotating the eggs by hand, set up a chart to help you monitor this process as well.
Set the temperature. Most experts recommend a hatching temperature of 35.8 degrees C for emu eggs. However, the University of Florida recommends a range of 35.9 to 36.5 degrees C. Keep in mind that eggs can suffer heat stress, especially during the early days of incubation. Towards the end of the process you will drop the temperature in anticipation of hatching.
Set the humidity. Start at 40 per cent . Emu eggs should be maintained somewhere between 25 and 55 per cent humidity. This will be adjusted depending on the weight loss of the eggs. Eggs lose about 10 to 18 per cent of their weight during the incubation process. This takes place at a steady, gradual pace, so that the weight of emu eggs should drop at somewhere around 2 per cent per week. Too much and the chicks hatch dehydrated; too little and they are edematous.
Install the egg rotators, if you have them. Hova-Bator manufactures rotators that are designed for larger eggs like emus. If you do not plan a monitoring system so that you are turning the eggs at least five and up to 24 times a day. The numbers on the eggs will help you keep track of which eggs have been turned.
Weigh the eggs every day. Increase or decrease the humidity if they are not maintaining a steady gradual weight loss.
Remove the rotators, or stop turning the eggs, on the 42nd day. Set up your brooder. Remember, newly hatched emu chicks are unable to maintain their body heat.
Tips and warnings
- Incubating conditions are inheritable tendencies and vary from hen to hen. Whenever possible, get your eggs from the same bird, or from related birds. If you can, find out the recommended conditions used by the breeder who supplies your eggs.
- Turning the eggs is most important in the beginning of the hatching process. It is at this time when the greatest possibility exists of the chick adhering to the inside of the egg. Egg weight loss is most important at the end of the process. If there is insufficient, or excessive, weight loss toward the end of the incubating time, be prepared to help the chick hatch and give extra care to the new hatchling.
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