First Hatch Disaster – Any Advice Welcome!


6 Years
Apr 22, 2013
Hi Folks,

Well after many weeks of anticipation it all ended in tears! Very disappointing as we really wanted to own chickens from scratch and are debating what to do next.

Our first hatch end tally out of 24 eggs at day 24 was 15 unfertile/yokers, 7 with a little development up to day 4/5 but never progressed, 1 cracked in the incubator and 1 went bad/smelly.

So what went wrong?

Our incubator is cheap and cheerful stryfoam made but as we only intended to have one hatch we thought a better one would be false economy. Our bator is fan assisted. Manual turning and manual humidity control means the bator is opened fully at least three times a day. Eggs incubated on their sides. Temp was a fairly constant 99.5 except when opened to turn when it dropped to 92. Humidity 30-45%, very hard to keep stable.

Our eggs were shipped but were in the post less than 40 hours and came in excellent packaging. Seller had good feedback. We rested for 24 hours before putting in the bator. We rested them on their sides.

We did find candling very hard as both me and my husband have poor eyesight. 14 of the eggs were still in the bator at day 24 as we were unsure.

We did have two 4 hour power cuts buts that was after day 7 and by that time all the eggs would of been duds or dead.

So shall we try again?

I’m thinking of buying a better bator but will this give us a better chance? To be fair to our current bator everything was dead by day 7 so it never really got a chance. We need a much better candler as our LED torch was just not good enough so any suggestions are welcome.

Are certain breeds easier to hatch than others?

We had a mixture of Maran and Rhode Island Red.

Thanks in advance.

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It's difficult to determine "what went wrong" However, clearly, fertility was an issue. It could have been cold, to many hens per roosters, or nutritional deficiencies. The fact that you didn't have more fertile, even if they died early would indicate to me that the seller is at least partly at fault

You don't say much about the incubator. Styrofoam incubators aren't the best, but there has been a lot of chicks hatched in them. I'd try again, but with a different seller & maybe something easier to candle, meaning white or light brown eggs. You also might see if someone in your area where you can pick up the eggs has some hatching eggs for sale.

I'd also recommend that you calibrate the Thermometer & check the hydrometer/hygrometer. Cheaper incubator are notorious for having in-accurate Thermometers.

If you have the instructions for the incubator, you might check & see if you missed something when you set it up. If you don't have written instructions you can usually get them at the Manufacture's web site in a printable form
Don't give up. My first 6 Maran eggs died full term and everything else is hatching fine. I ended up trying a dry hatch. Humidity now is 25% and my digital reads "LOW" before I add a spoon full of water. Had a good hatch yesterday and I feel a lot better.

Make sure your incubator is clean and your thermometer is on the money.

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