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Chicks died right before hatch

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Amateur Ornithologist, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. Amateur Ornithologist

    Amateur Ornithologist Hatching

    Jan 4, 2012
    I am a beginner with chickens and this is my first attempt at incubation. I have a still-air incubator that I kept at 99.5 degrees F and had a humidity of around 60%. I manually turned the eggs three times a day. The last three days of incubation I stopped turning and increased the humidity to 70%. At the same time the incubator had a bad smell in it like it was musty. I had 6 eggs hatch on the 23rd day and when I opened the remaining eggs 5 days later I had 9 eggs with dead, nearly developed chicks. They looked like they had died a few days before the hatch. I discovered I also had two rotten eggs in the incubator. Did I have the temperature too low so they couldn't fully develop or did the rotten eggs suffocate the chicks?

  2. tmoore8595

    tmoore8595 Songster

    Nov 7, 2010
    Jefferson County, Al.
    Your Humidity was probably too high for the first 18 days. I keep my humidity around 35 or 40% for the first 18 days and then raise it to around 75%. This is called dry incubation and it works for me. I had the exact same problem until I read this.

  3. tmoore8595

    tmoore8595 Songster

    Nov 7, 2010
    Jefferson County, Al.
    Welcome to BYC from Jefferson Co. Alabama. [​IMG]
  4. ChickenPeep

    ChickenPeep Faith & Feathers

    May 1, 2011
    Olathe, Kansas
    I'm so sorry. [​IMG]
    Oh and also, [​IMG] from Kansas! [​IMG]
  5. cmwhite23

    cmwhite23 In the Brooder

    Jul 19, 2011
    We're in the same boat! I also use a still air and manually rotated. I just put mine into lockdown tonight so let's hope for the best! I candled all my babies and I saw movement in all 8! I'm really hoping for the best and I'm really sorry about what happened! And welcome:)
  6. The Chickeneer

    The Chickeneer ~A Morning's Crow~

    So sorry for what happend [​IMG] but your humidity was waaaay to high for the first 18 days, about the highest it should go for those days is 45% humidity. Better luck next time [​IMG]
  7. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Songster

    Feb 4, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Well, congratulations on getting at least SOME chicks to hatch on your first attempt.
    That's better than a lot of people manage btw, so don't feel too bad about it.

    A couple of things that should improve your next hatch:

    1. Your temps were definitely too low. 99.5 is for a fan assisted bator, but in a still air bator you should be aiming for 101.5 at the level of the tops of the eggs. With a still air bator, the air doesn't get whooshed about and sits still instead, with there being a big variance in temps from the top of the bator to the bottom. This is called thermal layering, cause hot air rises and cool air sinks to the bottom. The overall idea is still the same, to have the middle of your eggs sitting at a fairly steady 99.5, but you check this by measuring at the tops of the eggs, where it should be 101.5. So raise your temps a bit for the next hatch!

    2. Your humidity was almost definitely too high. Some people will tell you they have good results incubating for the first 18 days at 60% humidity, just as some people will tell you they get good results at 20% humidity, but both groups are in the extreme minority. Most people get the best results by keeping their humidity somewhere between 30% and 45% for the first 18 days. I've always used fan assisted bators and my ideal humidity is 45%, but from what I've read here on BYC, still air styrofoam bators seem to do better at the lower end of the 30-45% recommendation. If I were you I think I'd aim for 35% humidity with my next incubation.

    The rotten eggs most likely didn't affect the developing chicks. But next time you'll know to give each egg a good sniff every few days when you're either turning them or candling them. If a rotten egg bursts, all your good eggs will be coated in stinky bacteria laden goo and it'll take ages to clean them off and scrub your bator out and there'll still be a faint stink hanging around for ages. You really don't want that happening, so remember to do the sniff test. The sulphur smell given off by a bad egg is pretty much impossible to miss!

    Oh, and of course, a warm welcome to BYC!

  8. RattlesnakeRidgeWV

    RattlesnakeRidgeWV Songster

    May 27, 2011
    Hedgesville, WV
    Quote:I agree, your humidity in the first 18 days was too high. I like 25 to 35%.
  9. Amateur Ornithologist

    Amateur Ornithologist Hatching

    Jan 4, 2012
    I want to thank everyone for their help and advise. I hope to incubate again soon and try to improve my hatch. Again thank you so much.
  10. KandiandJerry

    KandiandJerry Songster


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