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First Hatching Disaster

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by musinglew, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. musinglew

    musinglew Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 13, 2014
    Hi all,
    Am new to posting here but have been lurking about, reading, and learning for a while now. To introduce myself I'd like to talk about my first experience hatching mailed eggs with an incubator I built myself from examples seen here. I got a great deal (maybe too good a deal) on two dozen French Black Copper Maran eggs on ebay. I think I payed twenty bucks including shipping. Here are my results:

    If I recall right ten out of the 23 eggs
    were not fertile. Either way only five tried to hatch.. Two died before
    getting out of the egg after pipping, one my daughter had to help out
    and he died three days later, and we were left with two beautiful chicks
    out of 23 eggs.

    So, now I'm going fishing for opinions about my failure. (Yes, I know hatching mailed eggs is an iffy affair. But less than 10% success is just not acceptable even with that.) First let me show how the eggs were packaged. We lost one egg in the shipment:

    [​IMG]

    A better pic of the one lost:

    [​IMG]


    So, we took the 23 eggs we had left and put them fat side up into cartons to rest for 24 hours in an attempt to let the air bubble return to normal:

    [​IMG]


    Then we put the eggs into the incubator. I built this incubator from a large chest cooler that my garbage man buddy brought me. It had no top on it so I cut one to fit from plywood and then cut a place for a window glass in its center. My daughter and I scrubbed the stew out of it and then sterilized it with bleach. I installed a 60 watt incandescent with thermostat control from bottom unit of a water heater. I then installed a pc fan to circulate air. Lastly I made an egg turning system that could be done from outside the cooler (to leave it locked shut) with a 3/4" pvc electrical conduit. Here is the turning system:

    [​IMG]

    I found a very kewl analog style thermometer/humidity meter @ walmart and installed it so it would register air quality right at top of the eggs:

    [​IMG]

    Here's a look at the front end of the incubator where the lighting controls, fan, and inlet tube for adding water into the sponge pan is at:

    [​IMG]

    Finally, here she is completely locked down with any air leaks covered up with my daughter's mustache duct tape:

    [​IMG]

    Okay, we kept the heat at a constant 100 degrees, The humidity was kept at 50% until day 18 when I covered up most all our air holes which raised humidity to about 70 - 72%. I feel like I did what I was supposed to, but, after more reading here found a couple of threads saying to keep the humidity at like 40% with these darker eggs as they don't lose as much moisture? Any ideas from our resident experts on what I may have done wrong? Or do you guys think it may have just been a bad batch of eggs, or mailing mishandling? I'm about to try this again and would like to find and correct anything I may be doing wrong so I can get a better hatch rate.
    Oh, and here are our two little ones:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for any advice in advance....

    Lew
     
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Hi Lew-

    There are so many variables in incubating. You know, I've ordered eggs and had zero hatch, at least two times. And one time, out of 20 eggs that were shipped, I only got three chicks. I'm no incubator genius by any means, (did I even spell genius right? LOL) But first thing I'd do, with your next hatch, would be to buy some eggs that haven't gone through shipping and try again. That way you would know, if it was the eggs, or if it was your incubator.

    It's been a while since I've incubated, but I believe I kept the temp at 99, and then the humidity at 40, until lockdown, and then I raised it up to 60. The best hatches I had was with an incubator that was all digital, with an auto turner. R-Com was the brand. I used Brinsea with bad luck, and also a Little Giant was the first one, with pretty good luck.

    Anyhow, it seems like you've added all the bells and whistles. Here's a link with alot of troubleshooting questions and answers:

    http://www.extension.umn.edu/food/small-farms/livestock/poultry/hatching-and-brooding-small-numbers/
     
  3. musinglew

    musinglew Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 13, 2014
    Thanks for the link that was a good read. The kind of chicks I want to hatch are really hard to find around here. I'm going to order eggs from folks here this time because I really think the guy I bought from on Ebay held the eggs a little long trying to fill the order. Not his fault, really, mine mostly for wanting to save on shipping. But I think the eggs were right at 10 or 11 days old, maybe 12 even, before they actually went into the incubator.
    I'm just trying to tap a resource of knowledge to help me do better this time. Thanks chicmom!

    Lew
     
  4. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Feb 18, 2011
    Ohio
    Hello :frow and Welcome To BYC! Sorry about the bad hatch. You might also want to post in the Incubating and Hatching Eggs forum for suggestions, especially about your incubator https://www.backyardchickens.com/f/5/incubating-hatching-eggs X2, would try incubating local / non-shipped eggs until you are sure your incubator is working properly. Shipped eggs are always questionable, even well packaged eggs can have a poor hatch rate due to post office handling, but that looks like very poor packaging with yours, nice thread on packaging for shipped eggs https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/744566/how-best-to-package-eggs-for-shipping-do-s-and-don-ts
     
  5. musinglew

    musinglew Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 13, 2014
    Here is a post from the "How Best To Package" thread link you gave me that I think may well sum up my first experience as my eggs seemed to be packaged exactly as he describes:

    Quoting Talihofarms:
    "I must agree with the op in regard to the best method of shipping eggs.
    I have also been at the receiving end of thousands of mail order eggs from numerous sources.
    I would like to add,
    The least effective method of shipping eggs.
    When the sender simply wraps the eggs with a single layer of paper towels and inserts the wrapped eggs in an egg carton.
    Suspending the carton in peanut foam or shredded news paper.
    I know from experience that when I receive eggs wrapped in the fore mentioned manner , I will have a significantly low hatch rate.
    I would also like to add, that with the eggs all together in a carton, that if one breaks, the probability of complete contamination to the other eggs is high.
    just my .02"

    I am confident at this point that the incubator works as it should since my daughter and I kept constant vigil on it and cross checked the analog mounted temp/humidity meter with a digital one. Hopefully the next go around will be better. Thanks for the links Kelsie!

    Lew
     
  6. TwoCrows

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

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    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    Hello there and welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    Sorry about the shipped eggs disaster. I have never ordered eggs from E-Bay, but I have heard horror stories. I have however, ordered eggs from reliable hatcheries. Murray McMurray to be exact and they packed those eggs as if their lives depended on it! I never once had a cracked egg. And they give you extra eggs just in case.

    But if you can, always get eggs locally or close by so they have less of a chance of getting damaged in shipping.

    At lock down humidity should be 65% to 70%. So I think you did perfect. You have no idea of the lineage of these eggs. So the bad hatch was either no doubt from the shipping or the parent birds that laid them.

    Definitely stop by some of our articles in our learning center on incubating eggs. Congrats on the two babies however! Cutie pies!!!

    Welcome to our flock!
     
  7. musinglew

    musinglew Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 13, 2014
    Yeah, they are kinda cute ain't they? I have been prowling those incubator threads for months. I'm not smart enough to build one on my own....

    Lew
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2014
  8. TwoCrows

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

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    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    Me either! Store bought only for me. Ha!
     
  9. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

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    [​IMG] Glad you joined us!

    I'm sorry about the poor hatch. There are many variables, and incubation is tricky even with non-shipped eggs.
     
  10. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Overrun With Chickens

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    Welcome to BYC! [​IMG]We're glad to have you.

    I think that the problem was likely the eggs, not your incubation. The humidity and temperature conditions seem like they were perfect.

    To begin with, more than 13 of the 23 eggs should have been fertile. The seller may have had too many hens for one rooster, or the eggs weren't fertile for another reason. Losing a couple of embryos during incubation is normal, but you definitely shouldn't have lost all but five. Something certainly seemed to have been wrong with the eggs.

    My guess is that the reason why chicks died in the shell during incubation and didn't all live after hatching was because they were weak. It's possible that the breeder flock was vitamin deficient, or inbred. It could have been hereditary. These circumstances and conditions could result in weakened chicks that didn't make it through incubation. But, this is just speculation- it can be hard to determine the cause for incubation and hatching failure.

    Good luck with the chicks, and with any future hatches!
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2014

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