Incubation progress and dealing with detached air cells.

I’ve set up a second incubator full of Pilgrim goose eggs;

This has been my little surgery-recuperation spot, with a rocking chair, reading material and incubators close at hand.  Currently I am (finally) reading SJWs Always Lie, which I received as a birthday gift this year, as well as Storey’s Guide to Raising Turkeys, in anticipation of 15 Midget White poults due to arrive in June.

Also, Domestic Geese by Dr. Chris Ashton has been invaluable as I learn to hatch the notoriously challenging-to-incubate Pilgrims.

I purchased some extra Pilgrim eggs on eBay from a farm in Missouri.  Although the seller packaged them well, the post office seriously mishandled the box, crushing one side and breaking one of the eggs, which leaked all over.

Smashed Pilgrim egg in bubble wrap

The problem with this is that fertile eggs have an air cell within them that can be damaged if they are jarred and jostled too hard.  Though the remaining eleven eggs are not cracked, there’s little chance of them developing if the air cells are damaged.

Eleven eggs from another farm plus three from Abigail; our hope is to increase genetic diversity in our flock.

I have propped up the purchased eggs with the blunt end up in hopes of getting the air cells to repair themselves back at the top of the eggs.

Here is the progress on Abigail’s eggs that I put in the other incubator about 12 days ago:

You can see a well-formed and intact air cell at the top of the egg. The blood vessels in the developing chorioallantoic membrane are also visible.

It is still a longshot that we will actually be able to hatch any goslings, but so far everything is moving in the right direction with Abigail’s eggs.  Now that the weather is warming up, we have stopped collecting the eggs she is laying in hopes of enticing her to sit on a clutch and hatch them the old-fashioned way!


7 thoughts on “Incubation progress and dealing with detached air cells.

  1. You answered my question. If you have to provide all this support, how were geese able to reproduce in the wild? There is another question. What is Abigail going to do with all these extra goslings she isn’t expecting? Forgive me, but I am reminded of a nursery rhyme about a woman who lived in a shoe.


  2. While I am not used to searching for goose videos, I found this one.

    I did see an updated video. They captured her and took her to a shelter. There she met a gander in for a broken wing. They intend to release them together.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello, I was recently shipped goose eggs that were poorly wrapped on their sides with detached air cells. Could you elaborate on how you started your hatch? What was your humidity ? When did you start turning? Any help would be appreciated.


    • Absolutely, I am happy to help with what I know!

      First, wash the eggs with tepid water if they have been contaminated with a broken egg in the box. Otherwise, don’t wash them if possible.

      Second, candle the eggs to inspect for hairline cracks. You can rub a little bit of wax over hairline cracks to seal them.

      Third, store eggs upright with the large, blunt end facing up and the narrow end facing down in a cool room for 24 hours. This allows scattered air bubbles to move back up where they belong.

      Fourth, put the eggs in the incubator upright, in a vertical position, as opposed to laying them horizontally as one normally does with goose eggs. Do not touch them for 48 hours. No turning!

      Fifth, after 48 hours in the incubator, begin turning the eggs from side to side but keep them at least a 45° angle upright. You want that air cell to reform at the top of the blunt end as the chorioallantoic membrane forms around the inside of the shell.

      By day 15, the air cell may be resealed at the top. This is happening with my damaged air cell eggs; however the air cells are still somewhat malformed. I will treat these eggs quite gently, but I will lay them back down in a horizontal position once the chorioallantoic membrane has covered the inside of the egg.

      The level of humidity depends on the breed of goose. According to Dr. Chris Ashton, one of the major reasons for late shell death in geese is failure of the egg to dehydrate sufficiently. This is especially true for certain breeds; Pilgrims and Brecon Buffs, for example, should be incubated in a dry incubator with no supplemental water. Chinese geese should be incubated at the suggested 55% relative humidity for ducks.

      Hope this helps!


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