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Horrid smell in incubator!!!!

post #1 of 4
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Just finished second hatch of chicken eggs.  The first hatch I got 11 out of 46 eggs to hatch.  My turner quit during the process and I did not know when.  When we took out the baby chicks after a 5 day wait between first and last hatched baby, there was a bad smell.  On our second hatch when I took the eggs out of the turner I noticed a bad smell again.  I wondered if some of the eggs were no good and smelling.  After the poor hatch rate of the first batch we check the unhatched eggs and there were 21 that were fully developed, but did not hatch.  I had a friend tell me that I should plug the holes on the top of the incubator and that would not happen next time.

So second time I filled the water trays and plugged the holes on top.  There was condensation in the windows and I had read on the instructions this was not good, but trusted my friends advise since she incubates constantly year round.  I had three eggs hatch quickly and so clean this time, they just popped right out.  I thought GREAT!  Well one died about an hour after hatching.  I opened up to get the dead baby out, and WOW HORRID SMELL!!  I gagged tons could not escape the smell and just about puked.  I put the lid back on and hoped for the best.  After a day I noticed the chicks were not fluffing out and still looked so wet and heavy. SOOOO.... I took out the plugs and popped a corner open.  No more were even trying to hatch.  I waited till next morning hopping that more would hatch and the two would fluff up a bit before taking them out.  NO, No.  Next morning another one was dead.  He had lived two days, then gone.  I decided we had better take him out and hope he would live.  The smell was AWFUL.

We cleaned out the incubator, got rid of the unhatched eggs and dead baby.  Five of the remaining had fully formed babies and some of the others were partially formed.  I used a 10/1 bleach solution on all the incubator parts. 

What is going on?  Is this a bacteria growing in the warm moist conditions?  Does it kill the forming chicks and newly hatched chicks?  What should I do?  Will the bacterial still be in the foam?  I read of others using a vinegar solution, should I do that too?  I cant handle the death rate and unhatched formed babies.  I want to give up.  Should I?  What should I do?

post #2 of 4

You can use some Oxine to clean the bator and you can also put a few drops in the water reservoirs.   I would go ahead and use the Vinegar also.  I have never had this issue.

I would say that one of the eggs were rotten and the bacteria from that can cause health issues for the hatched and unhatched chicks.

Wife to a Patient Loving Husband, Mother to 6 children and 3 Grandchildren.  Breeders of Black, Blue, Blue Partridge, Partridge, Buff, Paint, Porcelain, Splash, White and AOV Silkies.  www.elitesilkies.com
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Wife to a Patient Loving Husband, Mother to 6 children and 3 Grandchildren.  Breeders of Black, Blue, Blue Partridge, Partridge, Buff, Paint, Porcelain, Splash, White and AOV Silkies.  www.elitesilkies.com
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post #3 of 4

Next time, before you set eggs in bator, you need to clean & sanitize well.
When you lockdown eggs, you need to candle each egg, and remove clear ones or early quitters, set only well growing eggs.
Also, you need a hygrometer to measure your humidity.
The opt. humidity during lockdown is 65%-75%. If it's too low, chicks would get shrink wrapped and die. If it's too high, they will be drowned. So humidity is very important during lockdown.

French BC Marans (Davis line), BBS Orpingtons (English type), Wheaten Ameraucanas, bantam Faverolles
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French BC Marans (Davis line), BBS Orpingtons (English type), Wheaten Ameraucanas, bantam Faverolles
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post #4 of 4

hugs I'm so sorry for all your losses. hit

It does sound to me like you had an egg go bad and cause bacterial problems. I agree with the comment that it's a good idea to candle before lockdown and remove obviously dead eggs.

I think another reason you lost so many in this last batch is that you plugged up those holes. It may work for your friend, but she's the first person I've ever heard say that was a good idea. The babies need to breathe while they're in lockdown--it's hard work hatching, and they need ventilation. The lack of ventilation alone could have killed them.

A bad smell in the incubator is NEVER a good sign. It means *something* has gone wrong. Often, it's just a bad egg that needs removing (quickly! Before it explodes all over the others), but it can also mean a bacterial overgrowth in the incubator.

I think you've done the right thing by disinfecting. It would probably also be a good idea to take it outside and set it in the sunshine for an afternoon, with the interior parts of the incubator well exposed to the sun. Sunlight is a natural disinfectant and will take out any remaining smell, especially if you dampen the interior first and let the sun dry it.

On your next hatch, candle the eggs every 7-10 days and right before lockdown, removing any eggs that are obviously dead or that, at two separate candlings, are developing very differently from the others. You should see significant improvement.

By the way, another thing you can do to help with infection is to use hydrogen peroxide instead of water in the water wells. Someone posted here a long time ago that this fixed a chronic infection problem he was suffering in his incubator. I now do that after each hatch--I fill the wells with hydrogen peroxide before the next hatch, but then use water after that until the next hatch. I don't know if it's helping any, but it's not hurting anyway.

Good luck, and I'm sorry you're having such a tough time!

Look what the cat dragged in: Curiosity Cat's Urban Unschooling Homestead

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Look what the cat dragged in: Curiosity Cat's Urban Unschooling Homestead

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