Are we being overly careful?


12 Years
Aug 26, 2007
Longmont, CO
I just have to ask this because I just watched my broody lily hatch out her clutch of 4 eggs. She got 2 chicks. The nest wasn't all that clean. Other chickens were always getting in the nest and laying eggs and confusing Lily until I came to her rescue and put her back in her own nest. They got really dirty before they hatched, but still she got 50% hatch rate which is better than I've ever done in my bator.

I clean my bator, disinfect it, tear in completely down like Miss Prissy says and still I get lousy hatches. I watch the temps, and Humidity and all is good. I do admit that this last hatch of my own eggs was a really clean hatch, no sticky gooy chicks so that was good.

Are we all being over excessive in our cleaning? Is it really all that necessary if broody's can do it in way grosser conditions? I'm just wondering.


13 Years
Jan 15, 2007
Garden Valley, ca
No, cleaning the bator will incease your hatch rate. There us something you are missing if your hatch rate is below 60%. Your eggs may not be fertile or the temp in your bator is off.
With all things being right your hatch rate should be above 85%. If you are opening and closing the bator, this will cause a drop in the hatch rate. The ony time I opening the bator is on day 18 to take the turner out.


11 Years
Apr 14, 2008
Geneseo, Illinois
An incubator is an enclosed moist enviornment, a breeding ground for bacteria. A broody supplies humidity from her bare chest, no water needed, quite different from the environment inside an incubator. Your broody would likely have hatched 100% with better cleaner conditions. I agree, there must be a problem with your temps, if you are getting poor hatches.Opening the bator during incubation will not harm your hatch. Only during the actual hatch is it important to keep incubator closed.

Poulets De Cajun

11 Years
Jun 14, 2008
Houston MetroMess, Texas
He does bring up a good point though, and I thought about this the other day when everyone was jumping my stuff about using the dishwasher to clean out my incubator.

If chickens can lay eggs and hatch chicks in nest boxes laden with feces from a broody hen, or dirt holes, or barn stalls containing horse dung....... why do we put so much effort into cleaning a styrofoam incubator with harsh chemicals like chlorine bleach???


the bird is the word
11 Years
Sep 14, 2008
Adair Co., KY
That's the same way I felt about it. my first two hatches went just fine. I have staggered hatches, with no hatcher until recently. My last 2 hatches, however, were total flops. The first only had one egg, that was full term, so it is hard to say what the problem was. My last had 3 eggs to begin with, one that had a blood ring arould day 7ish, the other two made it to about day 12 before they quit. So now I wonder if they are right. I just hope I don't have a total flop with the others. I have 11 eggs from my own hens, that are due around the 20th, plus 7 more that are due a week later. I also have a total of 37 quail eggs in there, that I ordered, so I hope, for this time, they are wrong!


Chick Magnet
11 Years
Mar 3, 2008
If you think about it, a hen will get off the nest a couple of times a day to eat, drink, poop... there is no reason not to open the incubator during the incubation period. In fact, cooling the eggs briefly and allowing fresh air into the eggs can help increase hatch rates because the bacteria doesn't get a hold on the eggs. I think that cleanliness is good, but I don't think that absolute disinfection is necessary. I clean my incubators with a dilute bleach solution before putting it away, but I've had one incubator going with staggered hatches since March with minimal cleaning and good hatches.
Also, I have witnessed seagull eggs hatching on an exposed rocky crag, no nest, no shelter, buffeted by brisk wind caused by waterfalls and glaciers. If it can survive that, then there's no reason to not open an incubator for a little bit each day.


11 Years
Aug 18, 2008
Easley, SC
I think fertility is down a lot in the fall so sometimes the egg may not be fertile. I have incubated two clutches thus far in my bator and out of the first batch I only had 7 of 17 to set to hatch. Had 6 hatch. This clutch, due this coming weekend was originally 26 eggs. I have 13 left. So I think fertility is a biggy.

Sugar Sand Farm

12 Years
Apr 24, 2007
North Florida
I agree with SGM our enbdems all of a sudden started laying eggs a few weeks ago. I couldn't believe it. I got in touch with a friend up in NY who has a rescue farm and he advised me not to let her go broody or hatch the eggs. He said that in the fall the eggs are not as viable, and those that did manage to hatch would be inferior and sickly. We destroyed her nest each day and finally they stopped laying. Now i wish the ducks would stop as I have three on one nest of 18 eggs. ugh

Three Cedars Silkies

11 Years
Apr 17, 2008
Gainesville, Fl.
I am more and more convinced that it is decreasing fertility of the eggs in summer and fall. My hatches way back in the spring were fantastic...all shipped eggs. As time progressed over summer and now fall, the percentage of hatching dropped dramatically...and the eggs were from some of the same breeders.

I did just finish a hatch of my own eggs with NOTHING different than the shipped eggs and had a 100% hatch. Between shipping and a possible decrease in fertility, it's going to mean a mediocre hatch...even if everything is perfect in the bator.

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