Hello...have questions on bad hatch!!!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by perolane, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. perolane

    perolane Songster

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    Jun 20, 2010
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    Good morning all!! I found this place doing a google search for info & it was so informative!!

    We are having problems incubating & perhaps some of you could give us advice on what we're doing wrong. We've done numerous hatches in a styrofoam incubator/w fan with maybe a 50% hatch rate (quail eggs) but needed something larger. We have modified a coke cooler (dorm fridge sized counter unit)...heavy glass door...good insulation, used an Incukit with fan, & had unsatisfactory results with the first & only hatch.

    Height...3 feet Width...2 feet Depth...20 in
    ventilation holes...6 1/4" holes
    3 trays for eggs...automatic turner used for first part
    water pan on top...fan blows across
    99-101 degrees entire time
    72 - 85 humidity entire time (I now know this was wrong)
    At last candling....12 viable brahma chicken eggs (hatched 4), 13 viable chukar eggs (hatched 2), 20 viable quail eggs (hatched 11)

    After discontinuing...all broken eggs showed fully formed chicks..one pipped but went no farther...all the rest died in the shells. The inner white membrane was very tough/rubbery. I helped 2 of the brahma chicks & both chukar chicks out or they would have died too. All 11 quails hatched on their own.

    Doing some research, I realised we were wrong on the humidity levels (should be 50-55 the first 18 days & then 65-75 the last correct??) I also found that perhaps we didn't have enough ventilation...have increased the size of the holes to 1/2" & put the water pan on the bottom. We have it on now without eggs to try to tweak it. Levels are currently reading 101 temp (which we can lower a tad) & 60% humidity.

    Understanding that ventilation needs to be increased the last 3 days....how the heck do you do that ?? If you need to open vents to lower humidity....when you do this wouldn't you lower the humidity at the crucial hatch time???

    In the stryrofoam incubator...we misted the eggs with water twice a day....should we still do that?

    Currently using a digital thermometer/hygrometer combo similar to the ones I see in some of your pictures. Wondering if this is reading correct...as to someone's directions here, I wrapped the unit in a wet rag...waited 15 minutes...unit should have read upper 90s humidity....it read 78. Thermometer reading is correct.

    Any advice from you guys would be greatly appreciated....we have eggs ready to go in by tomorrow at the latest.

    Many thanks,
    Pat
     
  2. Sir Birdaholic

    Sir Birdaholic Night Knight

    Drill more holes & plug them with corks, tape, or whatever , till you need more air-flow.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    I don't use a homemade incubator so I'll be a bit selective on what I answer. Humidity is controlled by surface area. It does not matter how deep a pan of water is, just the surface area. To increase the humidity, you can add additional pans of water or add sponges or rags or something to increase the surface area. If you want to add water during lockdown without opening the incubator and lettting your humidity out, you can use straws through your vent openings and a syringe you can get at most feed stores. I found that by using the straws that have that bend in them and linking them together (split one end of one so it fits inside another straw and use tape to hold them together) I can reach my water containers. It takes a bit of experimentation but you can do it.

    A problem I've seen mentioned on this forum about homemade forced air incubators is that it can be hard to get good air circulation throughout the incubator. You might get some dead spots where the air does not circulate. I can't tell you how to fix the problem since the fix may be different for each incubator, but you might want to check the temperature at different places where you have eggs to see if you have dead spot.

    Good luck!!!
     
  4. perolane

    perolane Songster

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    Jun 20, 2010
    Louisiana
    Gosh you guys are quick!! Thanks for the ideas!

    Forgot to mention that I have 3 of those thermometers that look like eggs...measure temps right where the eggs are...one for each tray. I have moved them to different areas & temps were always within 1 degree.

    My real concern is those tough membranes....do you guys think this was a too high humidity problem or a too little ventilation problem?

    Ridgerunner...the water pan is 9"x13"x1"....our prob was too high humidity which is why we moved the pan to the bottom of the bator. Readings are in accepted ranges now.

    Thanks!
    Pat
     
  5. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    I'm sorry about your poor hatch. That's always a huge disappointment. I just had my worst hatch ever this week--only four out of twenty duck eggs, when I'm accustomed to 85-90% hatches.

    Based on your details, I would say that you are likely to have much better results when you fix your early-period humidity problem. The trouble with high humidity is that the air cells don't develop properly. When the air cell is small, the babies can't keep their noses out of the fluids inside the inner membrane, and they drown. A large air cell gives them plenty of room to rest and still have their noses outside the membrane. Remember that until they pip that internal membrane, they receive all their oxygen through their umbilicus. But like human babies who have to breathe before or immediately after their umbilicus is cut, there is no going back for the bird once it has pipped that internal membrane--it has to breathe. If the air cell is too small, they can't, and it results in exactly what you're describing--birds who have pipped internally and then died or, in the case of extremely small air cells, they don't even pip internally because there's not enough room for them to poke their noses through.

    I'm not sure why the quail did all right--maybe just because quail are fairly indestructible. I have a batch that were incubated in the same bator with my bad duck hatch with the same high humidity (which was the cause of my bad hatch, by the way), and they are busily pipping away. It's not a great hatch so far, but more than 50% are pipped, which is WAY better than the duck hatch. So I think quail are just harder to damage.

    Anyway, I do hope you get it worked out. Everything else sounds about right to me. They don't need a TON of ventilation, but they do need a fair bit. In the styrofoam bators I always leave both holes open, but that's still not that much flow. And you've already gotten good advice on getting your hatching humidity up, but if they died before pipping externally then that was not the cause of your poor hatch--high humidity is necessary only after the first egg hatches.

    Good luck on your next. [​IMG]
     
  6. perolane

    perolane Songster

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    Louisiana
    iamcuriositycat: thank you for that explanation....sounds exactly like what probably happened. And yes, it is a huge disappointment. We have temps & humidity holding steady at acceptable ranges since yesterday...will load it up this evening & give it another go. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Pat
     
  7. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

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    Charlotte, NC
    No problem! I have high hopes for your next hatch. [​IMG]

    My quail hatch is over, and we hatched out 66%, which is not a great percentage but the eggs were old to begin with, so it's amazing we got even that much. And they had tiny air cells just like my duck eggs, so my guess is that quail just aren't as sensitive to humidity as ducks are.

    I'll bet your next hatch will be good. I know it's hard to wait though!! Good luck!
     

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