Air cells are small on day 17! Anything I can do?


10 Years
Jun 24, 2009
So I just candled my BCM eggs last night for the first time, they are so dark I couldn't see anything earlier. I noticed that all of the air cells are small, with one that is very oddly formed on top ans stretching down the side. The rest of the egg was completely dark so I know there are babies in there. What causes this and is there anything I can do at this point to fix it? What can I expect to happen if they stay small, will anybody hatch?
Probably to high of humidity. Since your it been like this for 17 days, then the chicks may be to big to hatch successfully..... not to worry though, they should be fine but dont be afraid of helping them! Good luck!
Thanks, I feel so "in the dark" with the BCM because I could not moniter their individual development along the way. I had humidity relatively high because I was needing to open the bator to hand turn 3x a day and wanted to counter-act it. I guess I counter-acted it to much. Should I be worried about the chicks drowning in fluid before they hatch? I sure hope not, I will be soo sad!
honestly I dont think you will have a problem. Eggs are pretty hardy.......... just keep the humidity at 65%-70% during lockdown and you should be safe! Good luck!!!!!!!!!! Keep us posted!!!!!
I do find that if my air cells are underdeveloped, I get a lower hatch rate. However, the others are correct that eggs are hardy and most should still make it. With well-developed cells, I generally get an 85-90% hatch rate. With underdeveloped, that drops to around 75-80%

People are going to start thinking of me as the "dry hatch preacher" if I'm not careful, but the truth of the matter is that nothing has improved my hatching success so much as running dry hatches has. On those occasions when I've had to run a higher average humidity (for instance, when I had other eggs hatching in the same incubator and had to lock them down with eggs that were not ready to hatch) and ended up with smaller air cells, more of my babies died after pipping.

It is sad, and I always feel bad about it. But nature doesn't always provide perfect conditions either--I have a broody (duck) hen whose eggs I had to replace because she decided to nest outdoors and it rained for three straight days and the eggs spoiled. So don't feel too bad. You'll probably still have a really good hatch, and you now can adjust your humidity practices and see how it affects your next hatch.

There's probably not a lot you can do, but there are two things I would do in your situation. First of all, I would remove all humidity sources from the incubator until lockdown. Then, I would not lock down until I see one or more of the eggs has internally pipped. If you do this, you'll want to check the eggs a few times a day with a good strong light to look for internal pips. If you're not sure what to look for, you might want to ignore that particular advice--it's just what I would do, but I'm very confident in my ability to tell when an egg has pipped internally. It would give the eggs slightly more time to dehydrate without letting them shrink wrap (that danger begins after the first *external* pip occurs), but if you miss one and it pips externally before you lock down then it could end up shrink wrapped.

Secondly, I would hatch them on their sides rather than in a carton (which you may have been planning anyway). I usually do hatch upright in cartons, but I have this idea (based on observation and reasoning, but untested so it's not technically a theory) that when a baby has a smaller air cell, it has to work harder to keep its little nose above the liquid inside the membrane and is more likely to drown. If it's in a carton, it has to work against gravity to keep its nose up, but on its side it might have an easier time.

Like I said, that's just what I would do. I don't know whether it would actually help or not, but it makes sense to me and might be worth a try. It's unlikely to hurt anything, anyway.

Good luck. I bet you'll have a great hatch. I'm on Hatch Number 11 (for a total of about 150 babies) and every single time I get worried about SOMETHING that is different or "wrong" this time around. And so far, every single time I've had a decent or excellent hatch (never below 60% anyway).

Thank you for the thoughtful post! It gives me some hope. I went into lockdown and have dried out one of the wells in the bottom to reduce humidity and am posed to raise it quickly (my bator has an attached water source so I don't have to open to add more) when I start seeing the eggs rock or hearing anything. These were shipped eggs so my hatch rate may be low due to that as well, wish I hadn't stacked the odds against myself. This is my second time trying to hatch shipped eggs, first time no luck. Out of 18 I had two that went into lockdown but they never even pipped internally. I did have a couple temp. spikes in that batch using an LG which I beleive killed them, this time I am using a better bator. Out of 12 there are 7 going into lockdown, all with small air cells. I hope some make it!
I bet you'll get some out of the batch.
Shipped eggs are, by all accounts, TOUGH. I haven't even tried them, so I can't speak on that score. But I think with 7 eggs going into lockdown even with small air cells, you're likely to get close to a half dozen or so babies. Good luck!!

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