An ID-10-T error in incubation? Apparently-developed chicks never making it out of their eggs.


Jun 10, 2022
So our second round of quail chicks has largely hatched, and we seem to have found the same problem this time as last. Our incubator runs at 100.5 degrees and for hatching we get humidity up to around 78% and it drops to around 69 by the time they're done. We dry incubated both times until hatching day, and we use a Little Giant Deluxe incubator with fan and automatic egg rails.

Last time, of our 20 eggs, 5 were DOA. We'd had TWO incubators from another brand break during use, so I attributed it to that. These eggs were fully developed, but never pipped, wiggled, nothing. The didn't get the wake-up call, and none of them had absorbed their yolk when we opened them at day 22 or so while their siblings hatched at day 18. This time the incubator was great, but still numerous duds (around 1/3), apparently. We're giving them more time, but expect a similar situation.

One thing to cause hope, the other eggs in this round started hatching early, like day 16. We hadn't seen anyone wiggle, hadn't heard a single peep, just came in to look for movement that morning and found a bird laying there and a couple others emerging! There are three hens in the same room with them for ongoing foot care, and we wondered if maybe the ladies being noisy encouraged the early hatching. We let the chicks hang around for a day to dry and give the others a chance, but there were still a lot left when it was time to pull the babes.

We took the incubator carefully into a tiny bathroom a few feet away with a hot shower running, and when humidity was at 80% and the temp about 95 in there, we grabbed the hearty chicks and inspected the eggs that were left. One of them had pipped but didn't break his membrane and ran our of air. We hadn't noticed that he'd pipped on the bottom and never zipped, so when he faltered we weren't aware. Understandable, but a bummer. Veins and yolk absorbed, but when we eased him out he was already dead and didn't resuscitate. The other eggs were all unmarred in the slightest. We'd just candled them a day and a half back and had full babies in there (only a couple of quitters in the batch) so we tapped their shells a bit to simulate siblings poking around and put them back in. We figured there's still plenty of time for them since it was only day 17, so we left them going in case these are slow where the others were early. It's day 19 now and we're planning to give them 2 or 3 more, but I'm increasingly skeptical of their success as they're still entirely inert to outside observation.

The two people we got our quail from both dry incubate in our area and reported no problems, but they may of course be misleading us on hatch rates. Otherwise, I'm hopeful there's just something I may have not realized I was doing wrong. The internet tells me that if they get full sized, they should at least try to absorb their yolk and break out, even if they're too weak to succeed. Any thoughts? Also, note, there was no evidence of shrink wrapping last time or this.
Your hatching humidity is awfully high. I would try to keep it around 60-65%.

No pips at all seems odd, though. You're not trusting the incubator's readings, are you? Always have at least one calibrated thermometer and hygrometer inside with the eggs.
Definitely - after the first incubator broke we got two thermometers we trust.
I agree with @Nabiki , humidity a bit high!
In general, 1/3 will be (DIS) in any hatch.
is the humidity during incubation, and if your running the bator in a "dry hatch" mode...what is the ambient Rh at your location?
The humidity starts at around 35% iirc, and drops to around 16 by the time we add water.

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