Bad incubation-- did my chicks have a development problem?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by cindy-lou, Feb 14, 2011.

  1. cindy-lou

    cindy-lou Hatching

    Feb 14, 2011
    Hello all-- I am new to the forums here but have found a lot of helpful information already!

    I also am new to chick incubation. I am a science teacher who recently attempted my first incubation with my students. A nice farmer from nearby gave me a mix of eggs to incubate. I cannot tell you particular breeds except that some of the eggs were Americana. We started incubating 24 eggs about 3 and a half weeks ago. I used a HovaBator Still Air Egg Incubator 1602N with an automatic egg turner and a digital hygrometer/thermometer. I adjusted the temp to within their recommendations-- between 37.5 C and 38.8 C, and it spent most of its time in the 37.8 to 38.5 range. Humidity of 50% was recommended, but they also told just which chambers in the plastic pan to fill with water, and I was unable to get the humidity above 44% or so filling just these-- so it spent much of its time around the mid 30's. I did crank it up around day 16 by overfilling with water, and it was above 50% for all the later days of incubation. I removed the egg turner late-- day 20-- because I missed the part where you were supposed to remove it earlier.

    So day 21 came, and no chicks, no peeps, no nothing. I let them continue until today-- day 25-- before giving up. today the students and I cracked the eggs to get some idea of what went wrong. We found about 1/5 of eggs that seemed to have done nothing. Of the rest, about 60% had a tiny embryo present (maybe 1 cm in size); and the others had what seemed to be a well-formed chick with feathers and formed limbs, and significantly diminished yolk. Pictures I've seen make this look like maybe a day 15 or so embryo. However, for all of these embryos, the chicks had huge defects in their abdominal walls where the yolk attaches-- like the equivalent of 1/4 of the tummy wall of the chick missing, and intestines and liver herniating through. Only one fully formed chick did not have this; instead, it had a defect more toward its posterior of the same size, also with herniation through it.

    Here's my question: is this abdominal wall defect normal in chick development? I've researched, and all I can find is that chicks have the equivalent of an umbilical cord, through which they pull their remaining yolk at the end of development. I see nothing about large abdominal wall defects.

    I also will write to the woman who gave me the eggs to incubate and see if she's noted anything like this in the past.

    Thanks in advance for any information you can give me!

  2. macdoogle

    macdoogle Songster

    Feb 11, 2010
    San Diego
    Sorry. I'm trying to hatch my first chicks and have no idea. I'm sure someone else here will.
  3. happyhens44

    happyhens44 BroodyAddict

    Apr 25, 2010
    Northern WI
    Like what do you mean? you cracked it and it was starting to absorb the yolk, and died in the process?

    If there was a ikky yellow sack, hooked on the chick, that was most likely the yolk sac being absorbed, meaning it died in the process of piping.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2011
  4. jvls1942

    jvls1942 Crowing

    Oct 16, 2008
    what you describe sounds like normal progression of incubation

    it could be that you had feeble eggs to work with..

    your temp and humidity were not that bad..

    I suggest you get another batch of eggs and "get back on the horse"..

    I am going to PM you..
  5. debilorrah

    debilorrah The Great Guru of Yap Premium Member

    I need to know a couple things to help: Did you have a thermometer and hygrometer in there, and what was the temp and humidity on average. I tend to believe from the results that your temp was way too low.

    ETA: I don't get celsius.

    ETA again: Did you calibrate the hygrometer before the hatch?
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2011

    JAHVREM In the Brooder

    Jun 23, 2009
    it sounds like your temp is too low. i do not trust the thermometers with those hygrometers.

    i lost many hatches cuz of bad temperature.

    after talking to many much more experienced than i, here is what i do, and maybe you will save a lot of money and heartache.

    i have 2 mercury thermometers. i use both at the same time.

    you can easily calibrate or verify accuracy.
    stick them in your mouth. if it is close to 98.6 after 5 minutes, you are there. jack your bator up to about 100.4
    i run on the higher side.

    get 2 hygrometers. or 3 or 4. i understand that room humidity should be 20-30%
    if anyone knows a way to calibrate these things do share, i have not figured it out.
    look at all of your hygrometers. take an average, you want them showing 25-30% room humidity. if you think your room feels normal.
    if its dry, adjust mentally down. if you live in a cave or a damp basement, humidity should read higher.
    after you feel you have an adequate average, put them all in the bator. add more sponges in a thin walled pan to bring up the humidiity. try not to open it, and there you go...i keep mine around 50% day 1-17 or 18, and jack up to 75-80 during lockdown.

    just hatched 20/29 out of banjoejoe's mailed eggs, from oklahoma to cincinnati in JANUARY!! EGGSTATIC!!

    good luck. hatching, in my opinion, is hard to accomplish. i am best with a broody mutt cochin.

    but i have learned alot, and shared above.
  7. Casey76

    Casey76 Songster

    Jan 27, 2011
    Alsace, France
    38.8*C (101.8*F) = too hot. Temperature should be 37.5*C (99.5*F) at egg level. In a still air incubator this might be warmer or cooler, depending on where your thermometer was (laying on the mesh should be cooler - at the top of the incubator, above the eggs, warmer.

    The other thing is, your humidity at 50% sound a little high for the first 18 days. 30 to 45% rH is better. If you have a high ambient rH depending on your location, it can be difficult to lower it in a still air incubator, so it is handy to have a hydrometer both inside and outside the incubator. If the ambient rH is more than 35%, I would run the incubator dry for the first 18 days (it is important that the eggs lose water, expanding the aircell so the chick has air to breath when he pips internally), and then increase to 60-65%rH for the last 3 days "lockdown."

    How often did you candle? Although, obviously an integral part of learning about the incubation process, especially in a science lesson I guess, the less the eggs are handles the better. I candle twice, once on day 10, and once on day 18. I don't touch the eggs before day 10 as the developing embryo is very fragile; and obviously after day 18, you don't want to disturb the chick who is getting into position to pip.

    Another thing with candling, is that a still air incubator, once opened can lose temperature and humidity very quickly, and becasue the air isn't being circulated, it can take time for that temperature and humidity to regain it's previous levels.

    All of these points could effect the hatchability of the eggs, though it is normal to have some infertile, some mid way quitters etc.

    It is unfortunate though that you didn't get a single egg to hatch [​IMG]

    Edited for speeling [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2011
  8. satay

    satay oz-e-chick

    Sep 2, 2008
    Esk Qld Australia
    This is what works for me and I work in celsius. 37.5c temp. 45% humidity for first 18 days and up the humidity to 65% for the last 3 days. Remember to stop the turner on day 18 and dont open the incubator at all then til all eggs hatch. Chickens can stay between 24 hours and 48 hours after hatch without needing food. Then once all you think are going to hatch have transfer them to your brooder. Good luck. Some times it's trial and error to see what works for you.

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