I currently have one egg left from a setting of seven white rock bantams. I did add one egg late into the hatch to bring my total up to seven, so it was 2 days behind, and one egg quit day 4. Today was day 23 for the first five, and 21 for the last one. I had not heard peeps or taps for 2 days, so I decided to pick one up and listen to it, since there were no pips. I heard nothing, so I got a small pair of scissors to try and tap open the big end to see if it was even alive. It was so hard to crack I had to scratch a groove and chisel my way in. The chick was dead, but in perfect position to hatch, and had nearly completely absorbed the yolk. The next one was just like it. Three more had not even made their interior pips before giving up the ghost (although I suspect that two had quit day 18 since there were still big blood vessels around them. I just couldn't get myself to break their membranes and investigate). The last egg (this one is on day 21) I held up to my ear, and heard a little *taptaptaptap-scratchscratch*. I swear I almost dropped it. I scratched a little hole in the big part of the egg, because I suspect that the shells were too tough for the chicks to pip through and they suffocated because they did not get enough oxygen (does this sound plausible?). I can see it breathing, and can see the little blood vessels, so I put a few drops of warm water on the membranes, carefully put it back in, and taped down the cover of the 'bator so I can't "help". Humidity has been holding steady at 65% for the last few days, and was at 35-45% days 1-18. Temp was very steady all the way through. My hens get only Purina Flock Raiser and some grit, plus kitchen leftovers when available. We've always had nice, thick shells, but last time I hatched (mutt layers, this is my first hatch with these bantams) they had no trouble getting out. My questions are: Why did my chicks die? Could the shells be too thick? Has anyone else had this problem?