50% Hatch Rate No Matter What I Do...

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by MiniBeesKnees, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. Which sounds low but...
    I set 32 eggs that started hatching yesterday about this time exactly on day 21.
    I just took eleven perfect chicks out, and put them in the brooding box.
    I candled the rest and threw out ten that were not fertile.
    Put the rest (11) back in the incubator which is a cheap (although it wasn't) Little Giant.

    When I set it up I put water in the bottom, and forgot about it. Never added any.
    I intentionally only turned them once a day.
    Some of the eggs had been outside in nests for over two weeks. I didn't clean them.
    I use nothing to check humidity, and I use the cheap thermometer that came with the bator.
    I check the temp twice a day and tweak it...so the bators range between 99 and 102 on that cheap thermometer.

    Of the eggs put back in the bator two have pipped, and are peeping.
    Since the bator was opened I know some are going to be shrink wrapped.
    Today I'll watch close and be prepared to help. Those I help, most live.
    I'm pretty sure some replaced are dead...the air sack looks too big.
    One egg is very discolored so I'm pretty sure it is dead.
    I expect at least three or four to live out of the 11 left. I expect to have 14 or 15 live healthy chicks out of 32 eggs that I broke most of the rules.
    I'll be happy with the 11 I have now.

    I have two identical incubators with turners for each one. I've been hatching for two years and keeping track of hatch rates.

    I have collected eggs daily and carefully stored them at room temperature turning them and keeping them only for seven days before setting.
    I've bought eggs...which I forgot about for two days left in the car...I've used mailed eggs, and eggs donated from friends.
    I've hand turned them exactly every eight hours and I've used the turners until lockdown.
    Sometimes lockdown happened a day or two early, sometimes a day or two late.
    Until now, I never candled. In all those batches...hatch rate was still about 50%.

    IF I had candled this batch then I'd have over a 75% hatch rate as I'd have thrown out blood rings, and infertile eggs. Some of this depends on your math.
    But my conclusion is that no matter what I do, or the rules I break I end up with healthy chicks out of about half the eggs laid.
    I realize there are folks who have been doing this for years with higher hatch rates.
    But with a cheap styrofoam bator, and some pretty cavalier egg hatching habits I can plan on having a hundred chicks if I set two hundred eggs.

    The one thing that made for dramatically better rates was to not open the incubator until 24 hours after the first chick hatches.
    I never tried refrigerated eggs, or eggs bought at a grocery store.
    I've had broody hens...they have better rates...but after some die, the hen kicks some out of the nest, other chickens or snakes kill some, and some are imperfect to start with I still end up with about 50-60% live, healthy chicks.
    Since I don't eat, or sell the eggs...I feed them to the dogs...I don't have much to lose just sticking them in cheap incubators and more or less forgetting them.

    A candler was not in the budget but from somewhere on this list were directions on making one from a clay flower pot. I made one, works wonderfully.
    I smoothed out the hole in the bottom with an old steak knife, and inverted in into a cookie tin resting on crumpled tin foil, and also resting a 60 watt bulb on the tin foil too. That came from an old broken lamp. I tucked black fabric in the space between the edge of the tin and the edge of the pot. It was recommended a dampened white paper towel cover the hole...but I found I did not need that. Total cost maybe five bucks...for the pot and a light bulb.

    But I suspect whatever one does, hatch rates are about half depending on how many you count to begin with.
    If you candle as you go along and throw out non-viable ones so that you end up with maybe 2/3rds of what you started with...and most hatch...is the rate you decide you had based on all the eggs, or the ones you had left after culling them as time passed.

  2. Saltysteele

    Saltysteele Songster

    Apr 10, 2011
    personally, i don't include infertile eggs in my hatch rate success or failure. whether a rooster "gets to" is impossible to improve upon. hatch rates, to me, should not include a factor i have no control over that precedes my even collecting the egg. the egg never had a chance to grow, nothing you can do about that.

    now, on the other hand, if the egg WAS fertilized and started to develop (i crack all my bad eggs to see what's going on) before stopping/dying for whatever reason, then yes that should be included in hatch rate.

    what is going on with the eggs that did not make it? to improve your rate, you need to understand what went wrong. if you have a bunch of chicks that started hatching but couldn't make it, you might want to consider rechecking your hygrometer or getting a second to back up the first's reading.

    if you have chicks that are partially developed, that would lead you down another troubleshooting path.

    i'm not an expert, by any means. somewhere in this forum there was a troubleshooting list with common problems and possible solutions. the key to success is understanding our past failures.

    good luck!! at least you're not out anything, though, right (aside from the cost of the incubator and electricity and time to run it)? [​IMG]
  3. giggleboxfarm

    giggleboxfarm Songster

    Apr 29, 2011
    Central KY
    Yeah, I've been wondering how some of that was counted. I started out with 9 peacock eggs, over the course of candling, I found 6 to unfertilized, 1 I thought nothing was going on, and there was a small embryo in it - so it had stopped, and 2 made it. So I was gonna say 2/3 on them. Out of 15 cochin eggs, 1 egg went bad and one stopped developing. 13/14 or 13/15? hehe All my EE hatched (4), 2 game birds, a couple blood rings, and 2 didn't even start. And I really didn't follow the rules. lol. I started to follow the directions in the incubator, and nixed that when the humidity went up to 55% whereas no water was 30%, partially turned whenever I went into my room - so 5-7 times daily, candled alot... got mad at the incubator because it wasn't sealing(actually lays right now that I took out an extra safety grill in the lid).. but lemme say I LOVE the sucker for viewing hatching.
  4. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    I used to do the same as you and figure my hatch success rate by how many eggs I originally put into the incubator. I have discussed this with many of my friends who also hatch and most said they figure their hatch success rate by the remaining eggs in the incubator after they have candled and removed the non viable eggs. [​IMG]
  5. Last year I used to crack them and try to figure out what went wrong...last year I also didn't candle. Yesterday is the first time I ever candled.
    Actually...I'm happy with my rate. If I were to throw more money at better incubators, and buy better measuring devices, and invest more time I'm sure I could 'do better' but in real life I've got chicks up the wazoo now.

    I put chicks outside, in an outside broody pen not in the coop with a heat lamp when they are a week old....weather permitting. It is summertime in TN so in the daytime I turn the lamp off. I have put sixty out there in three batches and have not lost a single one. That rate I'm happy with.

    I'll be setting another 120 eggs in three batches this season...so I'll have another sixty chicks by the middle of August not counting anyone who goes broody and does the job for me. Out of these chicks I want to keep maybe a dozen. Now that rate is high...I pick out the ones I like and 85% turn out to be roosters!

    The last two years I just gave them all away, but this year starting next Tuesday I'll start taking them to the chicken/horse auction we have every week. I get a minimum of five eggs a day so between now and the end of the season (about Labor Day for me) that is twelve weeks...allow three weeks to hatch the last ones and I'm looking at having five eggs a day, for nine weeks, or...well over 300 eggs. Some days I get as many as eight...so I'll probably have more like over 400 eggs to hatch. With a 50% hatch rate that is still 200 chicks. Apparently I'm in the chick business if I want to be. I don't. Even so...half hatching is still more than twice what I need with plenty to feed the dogs.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011
  6. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    I have done the same thing with eggs that didn't hatch. If they looked like they had started to develop I would break open the eggs and get a good look of how far along they were in developing. I don't do it any more.

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