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day 20, air cell too small- last batch all died, need advice

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by gypsysmamie, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. gypsysmamie

    gypsysmamie Hatching

    Dec 6, 2012
    hey chicken gurus,

    I posted a few hours ago asking for advice since I had 3 fully formed silkies die in shell this morning. (one pipped 3 days late and unzipped halfway then died, the other 2 didn't even pip internally). I've been reading reading reading. I'm pretty sure my temperature is OK. I've now learned that my eggs' air cells are way too small, so my humidity must have been too high this whole time! I've had it at 60%ish all through incubation. The air cells look like they should at day 7, whoa! There are fully formed embryos wiggling around in there.

    So..... Now what? Are they doomed? I removed the water. Now the humidity is at around 30%. Should I decrease humidity gradually, or all at once? Will a sudden drop in humidity hurt them? How can I assist them with moisture loss without hurting them?

    Is the danger of "shrink-wrapping" the babies only after they've pipped?

    I have a little computer fan in there, should I turn it off? Or maybe keep it on but turn it off during pipping?

    I'm going crazy over here, somebody please tell me what to do, or tell me who I can ask or what I can read. These aren't particularly valuable chicks, I just hate for them to develop fully and just die when they're so close to making it. Poor little guys.


  2. kizanne

    kizanne Songster

    Mar 28, 2011
    Tallahassee, FL
    Are they all from the same incubation period? Are they all 3 days overdue? If they have pipped externally and are still alive the danger from small air cell is over. If they are all about to hatch I wouldn't reduce the humidity too low as they can get shrink wrapped while existing. If this is a different batch I'd lower the humidity some during the first 18 days.

    please note I don't qualify as an expert, yet.

    Shrink wrap happends when they pip externally and have dry air meet them. The dry air enters in the hole they just pipped and dies out the internal membrane that they have only made a small hole in at this point. As it dries it gets smaller and snugger making it hard for them to rotate in the manner needed to make the holes in a circle on the egg to push out (zip). It can also make it hard for them to breath. They don't have a diaphragm to pull air into their bodies with force.

    The small air pocket is a danger because condensation can form in there and when they pip it can drown them.

    Do you see movement in any of the remaining eggs. (often times you won't see movement unless they have pipped because they have grown to take up the whole egg except for the air space.

    I can't tell you what to do but I can tell you what I would do.

    If they are 3 days late.. I'd make a small hole in the air pocket. I'd peel back the part of the egg that is air pocket only. I'd look for internal pipping (beak through the membrane). If pipped, I'd moisten the membrane making sure not to get water in the chicks beak or down the hole. Look for veins. If there are red veins keep membrane moist put back in incubator with 60% humidity.

    If not externally pipped, I'd moisten membrane looking for signs of lift like the membrane moving. Membrane moving often times means they are breathing and that they have pipped into a very small pocket on the side. If alot of veins I'd keep moist. I'd look for the beak to help it pip. Please note this is very dangerous for your emotional well being as if you nick a vein the chick will most likely die and you'll feel guilty (worse than if you left it alone and it dies anyway). But after 3 days late I usually go in unless they are all late and I think I had low temps. Some people have had chicks hatch day 25 or 26 on their own. I'd also check the side very carefully for a crack to see if they are sideways pipping.

    Those that have internally pipped on their own with a moistened membrane, clearance of top shell and time in incubator normally hatch within 24 hours and just fine.

    Those that have not internally pipped are much harder to help and I have only had about 30% success helping them internally pip and stay moist and hatch. But I have had little success with late birds (3 days late) left on their own hatch either probably less than 30%. I have tried it both ways.
    There are threads on helping and there are videos too if searched.
  3. gypsysmamie

    gypsysmamie Hatching

    Dec 6, 2012
    Thanks so much for your advice! I live in Louisiana. It's very humid here, and oddly warm (even for LA), we were in the 70's the other day. I think I'll keep the humidity up, but not quite as high, increase ventilation, and assist if they go any later than 2 days late. I appreciate your description of the process! To answer your question, what I did is start two batches, 5 days apart. That was probably a bad idea, but what's done is done. The first 3 should have hatched 12/2 and the second batch should hatch 12/7, if all goes well. Sorry if that's confusing. I have a lot to learn!

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