Fertile eggs, bad hatches every time!

Problem hatches

In the Brooder
May 9, 2015
Hi everyone! I always go on backyard chickens and get good advice so I'm making my own thread because I cannot figure this one out!

I have 7 hens and 1 roo, my hens have been laying for almost a year now. Every time I crack an egg open it has the bullseye. I also have ducks and they are about a year old. 2 males and 3 females. They mate like crazy all the time and two females are laying. Also crack those open and have the bullseye.
I bought an expensive incubator and collected every day and put them in the incubator every day. I was only getting one Pekin duck egg a day so I was opening the incubator every day to put them in. The hens lay about 9 a day so I was able to put 9 in at a time for two or three days until I had enough in the bator. I have an automatic egg turner so I don't have to worry about that.
I dated the eggs with a pencil with the large end of the eggs up. When it was time for the eggs to hatch I had moved them to a very large fish tank with 4 lamps, a bowl of water for humidity (not sure if that works but it's what I read), and a thermometer so I know how warm it is. I layer the eggs at day 18 in the tank at 99 degrees. When it came to day 22-23 (I waited just in case!) nothing happened! I candled the eggs and saw no movement, just blood rings in some, and others with nothing. I brought them in my backyard and cracked them open only to find egg yolk and no embryo at all! Out of 50 eggs only two had embryos, one duck (about two weeks in) and a chick about a week old. The others had nothing. I don't know what I am doing wrong! I started fresh and out eggs in the bator every day for a bout two weeks now, just candled the first ones I out in (which are about 2 weeks now), and they look empty! Same with my duck eggs! I don't know if opening the incubator every day is causing this, or what!? The humidity is correct and the temp is correct. I need advice! I am about to give up! I spent so much money on this process. Please help! Sorry so long!

Also, my bator has a turner and I know at day 18 you don't turn the eggs, is it ok to move those eggs to a brooder or no? Just because they are all set at different days.
Personally, I would collect the eggs I want to hatch first, and then put them in the incubator all at the same time. I'd' also only hatch one species at a time (chickens OR ducks), but that could be my OCD kicking in. I'd also just take them out of the turner and leave them in the incubator while they hatch. At least that's how I do my incubating. I've read that staggered hatches can be a bit tricky.

I guess at this point, though, we don't need to worry about how you hatch your eggs until we figure out why they're not developing. I wonder if putting in new eggs every day messes with the temperature. I can't say for sure, it's only a guess. Are you sure your thermometer is correct? You may want to try calibrating it, or getting another one to compare it with. If you get two different readings, I would suggest for sure calibrating one or both of them. That's all I can think of. Hopefully someone else will chime in with more ideas for you.
It's a new incubator, so I'd assume the temp would be on point. I do have another thermometer to use that I will put in it first thing in the morning. I think you are right that I am messing with the temperature. So if in the next couple days these do not develop, I will take them out and start only duck eggs, (those are most important to me), I just figured it would be ok to open the incubator, because if you think about it...the chicken or duck will not sit in the eggs 100% of the time, I have one duck sitting in her babies and she frequently gets off to swim, then goes back to her nest. So the temp is never the same. :/ thank you for your advice, I will definitely take it all into consideration!
What kind of incubator is it. Different incubators have different temperaments. Whatever kind it is, I'm willing to bet that there are others on here that use one and they can walk you through how they manage successful hatches with theirs.
It turns out we're using the same incubator (except mine is a 2200). This is my method with this incubator but first a couple of rules.

1. Don't trust the temp gauge or hygrometer on the top of the incubator. I use a meat thermometer that I tested for accuracy and a digital humidity meter but you can find digital hygrometers that will give you both temp and humidity fairly cheap.

2. see rule 1.

3. For these incubators you need to give them a full 24 hours to equalize before you set any eggs. During this time check your temp and humidity about once every hour or so and adjust as necessary. You may note that the temp knobs on these things are notoriously touchy sometimes just touching mine will change the temp by a half of a degree or better.

4. not really a rule but I thought it would be wise to point out in my area I never use the red plugs.

This is my personal method - After my incubator is equalized I start my eggs (I start mine on Friday so I have the weekend to focus on the hatch when it's time) The first 18 days I run 40 to 45% humidity and (try to) hold my temps between 99 and 100. You will have swings between 98 and 101 with this incubator but if you're getting too much temp swings you may want to cover it with a blanket or something. I candle once per week to check for development and remove any duds. On day 18 remove the turner and lay the eggs back in the incubator. At this point I try to get my humidity up to somewhere around 75 to 80 percent and maintain that for the rest of the incubation. This will also be the last time I will open the incubator until after the first chick has hatched and dried. Personally once a chick has dried I remove it from the incubator. Some will lock down on day 18 and don't open theirs again until all eggs are hatched or determined to be duds. If you decide to remove the chicks as they dry keep a close eye on the humidity and don't open the incubator while a chick is zipping.

Some side notes - In my area the first 18 days I use very little water in the incubator (sometimes none) so you'll just have to experiment with the amount of water you will need to use to maintain your desired level. Try not to make any major adjustments to the temp knob during incubation. With these fiddling with knob too much will de-stabilized the temp. Don't sweat it too much if you hit 101 or drop to 98.5 occasionally as long as you incubator isn't hovering around those temps everything will be fine.

My best personal advise is if this is your first time hatching (and this is hard to do) resist the urge to try to keep everything perfect. Eggs are resilient. They will allow you a little leeway but if you constantly try to adjust for temps and humidity your numbers will be all over the place and your eggs will not do as well.

I'm sure I probably gave you more questions than answers so I'll try to help you with any you might have.
This is probably the best advice I have gotten, thank you so much! It helps when someone else has the same incubator. I will get a meat thermometer, but where do I put it? I thought the eggs had to be at a 55% humidity level through day 18? Putting them in on a Friday is a good idea.
Now the only concern I have is what if I want to do my ducks eggs? I'm more concerned about hatching those, but I am only getting one a day. I know I should collect a weeks worth then put them in, but what if I need more? (I say need because I have quite a few people wanting the ducklings). Also, can I collect a weeks worth and put them in the fridge or room temperature until I am ready to incubate? Thank you so much!
For a second opinion I'd go to the drugstore and get a baby thermometer. I currently use a Johnson n Johnson taped to an old credit card and the one built into my digital hygrometer
Unfortunately I don't know much about duck eggs. The baby thermometer is a good idea that is what I use to calibrate my other thermometers anyway. As far as collecting (chicken eggs anyway) i gather until I've collected enough to incubate. I like to turn them once in awhile. I don't like to incubate any eggs that are more than a week old but I've heard 10 to 14 days quoted before. Ducks may be different.
I agree with everything Wynn said, BUT I add one more thing (sort of) I have 2 thermometers in each incubator. I use the cheap ones from Walmart or Amazon with the wired probe. I run them through the air vents and use a paper clip to hang them at the top of the egg level.

I can check the thermometers against each other by putting them through the same hole. if I have one that is a degree or two off I just mark it so I can adjust my reading.

I use three cheap incubators one as a hatcher and the rest as incubators. I date my eggs for hatch date and place them in the incubator, I move them to the hatcher about 3 days before hatch date.

Besides the two thermometers, I have a thermometer/hygrometer (wireless) probe in the hatcher so I can monitor the humidity for hatching closer. I still get some failures but that's life.

The one thing we do that drives most hatching people nuts is C-sections. If we have a egg that appears to go inactive and has been pipped for 18 hours or more we will peek inside the egg by opening the air sac area.

If it appears to be drying or too large to hatch we help it out.

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