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dead in shells

Discussion in 'Quail' started by yallapilko, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. yallapilko

    yallapilko Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've just finished hatching my first brood, I managed 76% hatch (from 92% fertility). I had some full term 'dead in shell' embryos, and wonder what caused it. Half of those had started pipping and half handn't.
    Is it ever possible to get zero dead in shell embyros?
    I know you can cause problems by opening the incubator causing them to 'shrink wrap' in the shell. But what about other factors, like other baby quail chicks playing football with the other eggs like mine did (til I moved them).
    And here is the first one that hatched.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I generally have very few dead in shells at the end, if any. I do think that games of baby-bird-football are not good for the eggs, but I don't think it's the most likely cause of late losses. Just in case, though, it's easy to solve. I secure eggs prior to hatch day--quail eggs, I set upright in trays at lockdown. With duck & chicken eggs, I put them in egg cartons.

    It takes them slightly longer to hatch this way (it's more work to hatch *up* than to hatch *sideways*), but they come out stronger and can't kick each other around. I get better hatch rates this way too.


    But the more likely problem is that your humidity was a bit too high during the main portion of incubation. If the air cells don't have a chance to develop fully, the babies will not have enough room to breathe after they pip the internal membrane, and they can literally drown. Any chance you were able to candle close to your lockdown date? You want to see about a third of the egg bright (i.e., air cell), and the rest dark. If less than a 1/4 of the egg is bright at lockdown, then your air cell is too small and you'll have late deaths.

    There's not much you can do about it at that point, except make a note to run your humidity lower the next time.

    Even if your humidity was exactly what the instructions say, you can still have this problem. Proper humidity is dependent on outside factors--primarily, the ambient humidity and altitude. What is right for your situation will be different than anyone else's situation. Here in the humid South at sea level, in summer I can't put ANY water in the incubator until lockdown, because it's just too humid. My humidity levels have to run around 20% to have a good hatch rate. In winter, I need a higher humidity, closer to 40%.


    I hope that helps you. I'm glad you had a good hatch--it sounds like your humidity was probably close to right. Just run it a touch lower next time and see if you get a better result. Congrats on the new babies! :)
     
  3. yallapilko

    yallapilko Chillin' With My Peeps

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    iamcuriositycat- That's an excellent outcome regarding zero dead in shells. And really interesting regarding the airsac and humidity. From what I read,(katie thear) the humidity inside the incubator has to be 45% and 75% at hatching, but I could not get to 75% at hatching. It ranged from 60 to 65% and refused to go higher until a few chicks had hatched when it rose to 69%. I've no idea what the humidity was outside the incubator!!
    With regards to putting the eggs in cartons, do you place it blunt side up or down. I would have thought blunt side up? I also have slats in the incubator to keep the eggs in place, but was advised to remove those. Maybe I could keep them in?
    From the eggs I post mort. the air sac was not as big as you prescribe. And two of the dead in shells had got as far as sticking their tiny beaks out. But got no further. I think I remember seeing them when football was being played.
    Anyway, I feel so lucky to have new babies!
     
  4. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Dead in the shells early on, before the pipping stage, generally means that your temps were too high during incubation, improper ventilation (not enough oxygen), eggs not turned enough or just bad hatchability on the eggs. If the embryo's died in the shells at the piping stage, then you had insufficient moisture during lock down, improper ventilation (not enough oxygen), or the eggs were not set correctly so the chicks could get into the correct position. Eggs being jostled around during hatching of the other chicks will not cause death to unhatched chicks.
     
  5. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you're seeing small air cells, and internal pips (i.e., noses sticking into the air cell), then you almost certainly had a humidity issue. BUT it has nothing to do with the humidity DURING lockdown. In fact, I generally recommend getting that humidity (during lockdown) as high as you possibly can--which is different for everyone.

    It's the humidity the rest of the time that affects the air cell. What happens is that over the 15 days or so of incubation, the moisture inside the egg gradually evaporates, creating a larger and larger air cell. When the baby is ready to hatch, it pokes its bill/beak through the inner membrane into that air cell, and those are its first breaths of air. Like a human infant, once it starts breathing air into its lungs, it loses its ability to gain oxygen through the umbilical cord. Once it takes that first breath, it must continue to breathe.

    With its beak in the air cell, the baby then rests for several hours--up to 48 hours in the case of a duck baby, only one to three hours in some cases with quail. It gather energy, strengthens its lungs, and uses up the air in that cell. When the oxygen starts to run out, it pips a hole in the outer shell to let fresh air in, then rests again (sometimes only for a few moments--again, in the case of ducks, this rest can last for up to 48 hours).

    Unfortunately, if the air cell is too small, two things happen. One, it runs out of oxygen before it has gained the strength to punch a hole in the outer shell. Two, it can't rest properly because it has to raise its beak so high to reach the air--it's like standing on tippy toes, it uses extra energy.

    Okay, so how does that incubation humidity affect this? The obvious answer is that lower humidity inside the incubator means more evaporation from the eggs, and that is partially true. Lower humidity=larger air cell. Of course, you have to be careful not to let TOO much evaporate, because the baby needs room in the moist part of the egg to grow, so you need a high enough humidity not to stunt the baby's growth.

    Less obviously, the environment OUTSIDE the incubator affects this process as well. Think about it this way. When the air enters the incubator, it carries some moisture with it. If it carries a great deal of moisture, it can lose a great deal of moisture INSIDE the incubator without taking any moisture from the eggs themselves. If it comes in as dry air, however, then in order to reach a certain humidity level INSIDE the incubator, it has to take some moisture from the eggs. Thus, dryer air coming into the incubator means faster air cell development than when moister air comes into the incubator, even if the inside humidity is the same.

    So the point is, whatever the books say to put your humidity at, start there, but it's not the end-all be-all. For best results, monitor the air cells for your specific circumstances, keep records, and then adjust until you find the optimal level for your situation.

    Hope that helps!

    Of course, having said all of that, the fact of the matter is that your hatch rate was TERRIFIC, and nothing to sneeze at. :) These are just tips for getting even better results, since that's what you asked for. :)

    Congrats on your sweet babies!!
     
  6. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Whoops--forgot to add. When setting them in cartons or trays, it's always blunt (large) end UP. That's the end they pip at, and you don't want them drowning in fluid that seeps through. It also strengthens their legs to have to work so hard to get out.

    Ideally, under the mother, they would be less upright, and she would hold them in place with her body. So I can envision a system where they are secured at a more natural angle, and imagine that would be even better. However, trays/cartons have worked great for me, so I stick with it. :)
     
  7. yallapilko

    yallapilko Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I really do appreciate both your help! Thank you!
    twocrowsrance- thank you for for all the info. All but one of the eggs died at the very final stages, some had even pipped, so I don't think the early stages temperature would be an issue. But, with regards to the chicks playing football with the eggs, with one of them, it caused hairline cracks around the middle of the egg,(this one died) so, do you think even when the egg is cracked at a late stage it doesn't affect hatching?
    iamcuriositythecat - that's an amazingly informative answer. thank you. It made everything very clear. From memory, the chicks that didn't hatch had very little airsacs, I remember thinking about that compared with the others that hatched, and also there was one, with its beak poking out that just had no air sac at all. So I think from what you say the problem lies in the humidity. Although I can't complain at the hatch rate, I just so hated seeing the fact they'd almost made it. So, next time, I'm going to reduce the humidity slightly and watch the outcome.
    I'm setting them in conjunction with moon cycles, so as long as I can get some eggs I'll be trying again very soon.
     
  8. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Candling along the way during incubation not only tells you if the embryo's are alive, but it allows you to monitor the air sac development. You need some weight loss inside the egg to form that air sac. So if you are noticing little if any air sac development during incubation, then you need to lower the humidity so that some of the water is lost inside the yolk.


    This is basically what you want to see....

    [​IMG]


    As far as eggs cracking from the others during hatching...yes, these cracks allow humidity to escape before the chick is ready to pip. Eggs should not be that thin that they crack while the chicks are jostling around at hatch. So either something happened to this egg before setting, during incubation, or it had a thin shell to begin with.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
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  9. yallapilko

    yallapilko Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Twocrowsranch- well I'd never thought of the benefit of candling, I'd only thought it would mess around with their incubator environment too much, but I guess it has its benefits.I didn't candle this batch but will give it a go next time and watch the air sac develop. n
    As regards to the cracks, well the eggs were delivered by post ( I wanted new bloodline), and when I opened them they were packaged badly and the tape stuck the lids together resulting in them crashing onto the counter top, so frankly I was surprised any of them developed. Add to that the monster evil chick that played havoc the first 2 hours after its hatch, then it's not surprising one of them had this problem!
    You know a lot about this quail malarky!
     
  10. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Shipping is horrible on eggs. But we all love to get eggs in the mail!! LOL If I need to I order eggs, I get them from reputable hatcheries or folks I know. It is a lot easier to collect them from your own hens when you can.

    When you do order eggs, make sure to candle them before setting and you can sometimes see cracks in the shells before hand.
     

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