I primarily use broody hens for incubation, so this world of incubating myself is quite complex and odd to me! But, I've tried incubating three times now. The first two times, I only had one chick out of over two dozen eggs hatch. Both hatches had a stable 99.5 temperature, but I had issues with stabilizing humidity. However, I cracked open a few eggs from my previous hatches, and was unable to find any abnormalities or anything that might indicate why it didn't hatch. All the eggs that didn't hatch were fully developed chicks that showed no apparent reason for why it didn't hatch. For this hatch, I made extra sure I did everything right. The incubator was cleaned, sanitized, and properly stored prior to incubation. The eggs weren't cleaned since they were essentially already clean, save for one egg that had some dirt stuck on it. The hens that I got these eggs from shouldn't of been stressed and were fed a proper diet. The temperature and humidity were stabilized a couple days before I began incubating, I placed in seven pheasant eggs first, then waited a full 24 hours before putting in eight booted bantam eggs, due to the pheasant eggs taking a day longer to hatch. I made sure the temperature was at a stable 99.5 throughout the entire hatch, and it was, and the humidity stayed at 34-40% throughout the first 18 days. I've heard others that go higher, but I found with my other hatches that going over 40% doesn't allow the air cell to shrink enough. have an automatic turner, so I didn't have to worry about turning the eggs. I had a separately bought thermometer/hygrometer inside the incubator to make sure everything was correct, and I made sure they were calibrated. I candled them at one week to make sure they were fertile and that their air cells were at a proper size, and they were. I meant to check again on the second week, but unfortunately I lost track of time. On the 18th day, I took out the turner and bumped up the humidity to 63%. Today is day 20, and with the other hatches I had, one egg would start cheeping in the shell by now, and that egg would be the only one who hatched. I hear no cheeping at all.
From the advice of others, I checked a few of the eggs and found that the air cell was a bit big, but not too big. So I went ahead and added in more water, but am currently waiting for the water to evaporate for the humidity to go up. I candled five eggs, three of them looked like they died at different points in the incubation, one looked to be fully developed but I was unable to find movement, and the last egg I was able to find some movement in. I know there must be at least a few still alive out of the 15 eggs I placed in there. If it's important, my incubator is a Forced Air Incubator Model 4200. Is there anything I can do to save my hatch? What did I do wrong?
EDIT: Unfortunately, my 15 eggs resulted in only one successful hatch. Two more externally pipped, but failed to hatch. I waited until day 24 before giving up. I started a new hatch on 6/11, this time with a full incubator of 40 eggs! All the eggs are either mine or locally bought. For this hatch, I tried a few new things:
-Only filtered water will be used
-Incubator is completely full of eggs, rather than less than half full
-Air cells marked at Day 1, 7, and 14 to ensure proper weight loss(I've done this before, but opted to simply monitoring air cells periodically in recent hatches)
-And, perhaps most importantly, I put the eggs in their proper incubation position for day 1-18
I'm not sure why, but I've been putting the eggs in with their pointy end up and the round/air cell part downwards. It wasn't until I was going through, marking initial air cell size and placing them in the incubator, that I realized the air cell should probably be up rather than downwards. Now, because I did have a chick hatch and two try to hatch, I don't think the positioning is a complete death sentence to a hatch, but it's certainly important. I'll be posting updates every week when I check on the air cells, or more often if I run into difficulties.
For day 1, everything of course went fairly smoothly, though I had a difficult time establishing an accurate reading at first. I purchased another thermometer and placed it in the incubator, and it said the temperature was 101.3 and my other thermometer I've always used said it was 99 degrees(it doesn't read down to .1). I placed my usual thermometer into the spot the new thermometer was in, and it still read at 99 degrees. So, I removed both thermometer's and placed them in the same spot in the room, and eventually they showed the same temperature reading. I then placed a medical mouth thermometer into the center of the incubator and closed the incubator. I took several temp readings and they all read differently, but did not go below 99.5 and did not go above 100.5. I plan on getting a meat thermometer that is much easier to calibrate than my digital thermometers and placing that in the incubator.
Edited by BackyardDove - 6/12/16 at 1:53pm