Hatching Problems & Questions

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Bowslayer2, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. Bowslayer2

    Bowslayer2 Out Of The Brooder

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    Ok....I have a question on my incubator. I put 60 eggs in the incubator on Wednesday February 4, 2015 about 7 pm. After candling on day 18 (2/22/2015), we got rid of 15 eggs that were not fertilized. The hatch date was supposed to be last Wednesday February 25, 2015 (i.e. 21 days). Two Birds hatched Friday night about 10 pm (approx one day late), 5 more hatched on Saturday by about 6 pm and 3 more hatched by Sunday 2 am. There are still about 35 eggs in the brooder. I took the live chicks out today and put them in a different brooder setup and also took out one egg and cracked it open to see a dead chick. It looked like it was about a day from hatching....

    I have read quite a bit on this website and learned a lot. It appears that due to the late hatch, my temperature may have been a little low.

    Background:
    I have an incubator and a brooder both with digital thermostats (see pics) that I recently installed after purchasing them used from a guy for $150.00. I had calibrated both thermostats (brooder and incubator) and two other thermometers in an ice slurry at 32 F but obviously it must not have maintained its accuracy at 99.5 F? The incubator was maintaining the temperature between 99.0 and 100.0 very consistently (i.e. the heater would turn on at 99.0 and shut off at 100.0), according to the digital thermostat I installed. In addition, the other two thermometers showed the same temperature as the thermostat controlling the incubator.
    I had put all eggs on the middle shelf of the incubator and the probe was in the middle of the middle shelf. However, when we moved them from the incubator to the brooder on day 18, I had put the temp probe in the front 1/4 of the middle shelf and later....much later (like yesterday) noticed that the back of the incubator was about 1 degree colder (dumb mistake). In fact none of the eggs in the back half of the brooder hatched, until I moved the back half of the eggs to the top front shelf of the brooder yesterday morning (Saturday morning or approx 1.5 days past due date), where 3 hatched. So the other 7 birds all hatched from the middle shelf, front of the incubator...(i.e. warmer portion).
    I have a forced air incubator and brooder, so I think I can get it closer to maintaining a better temperature by moving the temperature probe to the middle of the incubator instead of the front.....but I knew that and just didn't on the brooder. So I guess the following are my questions...

    - Should I re calibrate my thermometer temperature up one degree for the next hatch? More? Less? I assume the temperature was a little low? I really don't know how to get an "accurate" 99.5 F...except using biology by identifying they hatched 1.5 to 2 days late.

    - Should I wait more days for the remaining 30 so eggs or has it been too long? I assume the back part of the brooder being "cooler" stopped or killed growth on the back eggs....

    - Any other suggestions for future hatches?

    I plan on doing further hatches in a couple weeks and want to try to get a better hatch rate. I did have my humidity at about 45% for the lockdown....I know that is supposed to be too low, but all the chicks that hatched had no problems and the one I broke o[​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    pen was wet....and did not look like it was too dry....just looked like it died........

    Thanks!
     
  2. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

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    Wow. I think you have a pretty good idea of what was going on temp wise. It does indeed sound as though the cold spots in the incubator is the problem. I'm not engineer savy, so better placement of heating elements and the fan sounds like the right thing, but what the better placement is, is lost on me...lol You definitely need to adjust so that those cooler areas are getting the proper temps as well. Seeing as how even the ones that hatched were on days 23/24/25 if I am understanding right, I would say the overall temp should be adjusted a degree or so higher as well.
    The ones that didn't hatch....well you're nearing the end of day 25 now so chances are slim chicks are going to hatch out now (or at least hatch and be 100% healthy). I'd pull a few out and candle and see if there's anything going on in there. While I know firsthand the chances of chicks being born this late and not having any problems, I couldn't possibly throw one out that I knew was still alive regardless.
    I would definitely do eggtopsies. I know that's a lot of eggs there, but 45% humidity (if that's an accurate reading) sounds extremely low for hatching to me. And while you had a good amount that hatched well, the rest could have been affected by low humidity as well as temp and looking at the chicks and conditions inside the shell would help determine that. If not and humidity that low works for you, then you do what works. I'm someone that likes to see 75% at hatch with my eggs, so that number just freaks me out...lo But I am biased because 75% seems to be my personal number that works for me.
    Good luck. I hope you get it figured out!
     
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Sounds like you need to tweak your ventilation and raise the temp in that bator. Can you put in an other fan to boost the circulation? I have a home made bator (styrofoam box used for shipping tropical fish and plants) with thermostat between 2 40W bulbs, and a computer fan bringing in fresh air to blow across the bulbs and thermostat. My box is about 15" square and about 10" tall. Even with the fan, I have variation of 1 - 2* in my box, and had to put in some baffles to block the heat in front of the bulbs, and direct the air flow and heat into more of a circular motion. And, I keep 3 thermometers in the bator at all times, constantly monitoring temps in middle where the warmest spot is, and at the corners that tend to be cooler. And, if that's not enough micro-management, I also tip the egg cartons to take best advantage of the air flow and temp variations, as well as rotate the cartons through the warm and cool spots, so all eggs move through a rotation: starting on the left front, and ending up on the right back by the end of each day.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Take the unhatched eggs and float them in a bowl of calm water. If anything is alive in them at this stage, they will wiggle on their own. If they wiggle on their own, put them back in the incubator.

    Are you drawing in air from the outside of the incubator? Do you have some holes open to the outside? Those chicks need fresh air just like we do and they breathe through the porous shell. I really don’t think that is your problem but it is a common one.

    I really think your problem is that the temperature was too low. That’s got all the hallmarks of low temperature. You might try checking that thermometer against a medical thermometer that is calibrated to see how close it is reading.

    There are two things with thermometers, accuracy and precision. Accuracy is if temperature is 99 does it read 99 or does it read 102. Due to manufacturing tolerances they can be off. That’s why you calibrate them.

    The other thing is precision. Some thermometers are precise within 1 or 2 degrees. That’s the type you hang on your front porch. If the temperature is 99, it might read 98 or 100 and still be within its range of precision. What you need is one precise to 0.1 degrees.

    Lazy Gardener gave you some good suggestions to get the air circulating better. To cut down on your temperature swings put your thermostat pretty near your heating element. That way it will cycle more often. Yes, I’d try raising it about 1 degree. Even if you were a full degree off, the hatch should not have been delayed that much but adjust it by small amounts.

    Good luck on the next one.
     
  5. Bowslayer2

    Bowslayer2 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for replying..I just cracked open 2 eggs and they appear to be plenty moist as you can see in the picture and about a day away from hatching. So I'm wondering if the temperature perhaps had more top play in this then the humidity? however I do plan on raising the humidity for the next Hatch I try. I am having a little trouble getting it above the 40 to 45 percent it is currently at but I will experiment before I put new eggs in again to get the humidity up higher. Do you have any suggestions on getting the humidity higher?. I am currently using the float system that I bought from GQF hatcheries. It seems to work real well but the water doesn't get to the top of the tray and that might be part of the problem. But I do like the self fill from the bucket.
    It seems the real problem I'm having was temperature being too low resulting in the late hatch as you stated in your reply. I seem to really have a lot of trouble trying to calibrate a thermometer as it's not as easy as everyone says. But from reading on other posts biology is perhaps the best thermometer so I will raise it one degree as you suggested and see how that does for the next hatch.
    I know that I should probably throw the eggs out now or do Eggopsies but both my wife and I hate to do that in the slim chance something might be alive even though we know there isn't. However, we will wait till tomorrow to check them and I will post another reply as to [​IMG]the status.
     
  6. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

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    If you want to try to higher the humidity you could try placeing wet clothes or sponges on the individual shelves to get humidity in the different levels, it's just going to mean that you would have to open the bator to re wet unless you have ventalation holes above the clothes/sponges to apply water through tubing or straw to them. Once they start hatching the humidity usually goes up a bit naturally.
    As for eggtopsies, I always put a hole in the air cell and stick my finger in it to feel the membrane and chick to make sure nothing is moving before opening for eggtopsy. I'm the same-afraid of opening one that is still alive. I figure this way if it moves it goes back in the bator and I haven't done too much damage-it still has a chance.
     
  7. Bowslayer2

    Bowslayer2 Out Of The Brooder

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    Well,
    I cracked the remainder of the eggs open Monday night and found 23 more dead chicks. All of them similar to the above pictures I posted. They looked like they were about a day from hatching. From the comments given in the previous posts, it is likely my temperature was too low? I have raised the temperature by 1 degree F in the brooder and incubator to account for the low temperature. In addition, I will raise the humidity for the next hatch.

    I have been checking my brooder and incubator for temperature (hot and cold spots) the past few days. I finally got my incubator consistent for temps on the top two bins (within about 0.5 degrees), but the bottom rack is about 1 degree F colder....so I will likely not use it. I really don't plan on opening the incubator to rotate eggs as that is why I have the egg turner and it kind of defeats the purpose of having a "good" incubator.

    I will try again and see how the hatch goes. If anyone has any comments or suggestions.....throw them my way and thanks for the help previously.
     

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