Help me improve my hatch rate...

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by iamcuriositycat, Oct 6, 2009.

  1. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    I am getting consistent 60-70% hatches. Not bad, but I'd love to see it higher. Here are the stats:

    I'm running a Hovabator with circulating air and automatic turner. Temp for my first two hatches was 99 on my thermometer (which does not measure half degrees), but because they were late I raised it to 100 for my third (and most recent) hatch, and got the same hatch rate, but they hatched right on time.

    My first two hatches were Indian Runner ducks. I ran humidity between 50-60% and misted occasionally (roughly every other day) with warm water. I washed the eggs, because they were so filthy. Temp for the hatch was 75-85%.

    Third hatch was bantam chickens. Humidity was 45-50% for the first 18 days. 70% for the hatch. The eggs were not washed.

    Hygrometer has been calibrated, but thermometer has not.

    Eggs are collected daily, stored in the house at around 75-78 degrees for no more than five days, in egg cartons with the pointy end down. None have been shipped eggs. The bantam chicken eggs, however, were all found in a hay stack and set the same day we found them--we know four were very fresh and the other two slightly older, based on the size of the air cell. But of the two that did not make it, only one was one of the older eggs.

    For all three hatches, eggs died late, after at least two thirds of the incubation period. All pipped eggs have hatched successfully.

    Hatchlings have been healthy and hardy, except one duck who was crippled at hatch, was helped out of his shell, and died today (at four weeks of age). Another apparently healthy duckling from my first hatch died at a week of age, which may or may not have been incubation related--I don't know what killed him, as he seemed completely healthy up until that last week. However, he was helped out of his shell during the hatch, as he had pipped in the wrong end. I believe I may have had him upside down in the incubator for part of the incubation period (I was a beginner--one of many mistakes).

    The current hatch is a friend's duck eggs. They have not been washed (hers aren't as disgusting as mine always are). I would love to see an 80+% hatch rate on this one, so I'm very interested in any tips or ideas.

  2. feedstorechick

    feedstorechick Songster

    Jun 30, 2009
    When you figure it all out perfectly, let me know [​IMG].

    I think your hatches sound great. I've had one 100% hatch with shipped eggs, but I give all the credit to the owner of the birds.
  3. happi752

    happi752 Songster

    Sep 12, 2009
    Casa Grande
    The only problem I see that you have is the temp you are storing your eggs at. Fertile eggs being stored always always need to be stored at 50 to55 degrees to keep from the eggs starting to develop early and getting messed up at the early development stage with low heat temp. And if you store at lower then 50 (like in your refridgerator) you will kill the eggs. Just remember, your hatching out eggs starts the day that you start collecting, and mistakes at this stage will set the later stages in the form of low hatch rates.

    We use a mini fridge with the temp adjusted way up so it holds a constant temp of 50 degrees and we never store our eggs over 7 days, but I have heard others store for several weeks before hatching out.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2009
  4. Jolynn191978

    Jolynn191978 In the Brooder

    Sep 17, 2009
    Santaquin, Utah
    Try to lower the humidity those first 18 days to around 30%. At day 18, raise it to 65 to 70%. Many have done this successfully and gotten 90% hatch rates.
  5. Mojo Chick'n

    Mojo Chick'n Empress of Chickenville

    I am lousy with duck eggs - usually get 1 out of 5 to hatch [​IMG]

    with chicken eggs, however, I had been doing pretty well (til the weather went wonky) and I did a half dry incubation - which means I did add soem humidty, but I kept it lower than called for. Usually ran around 30%-35% but I didn't panic if it went up to 40% or down to 25%.

    hatches during that time were about 85% or better.

    I had a couple of hatches where all but one egg hatched both times (out of around 40 eggs each time).

  6. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Thanks for all the ideas!!

    I may try storing them differently. It is true that all the eggs I've placed so far on the same day they were laid have hatched, so storage may indeed be a factor. What are some methods folks use to get that ideal temp? I've thought about a wine cooler, but I don't want to spend an arm & a leg on it. We have a basement but it is on the same central HVAC as the rest of the house.

    I know my hatch rate is decent, but I'd love to see it higher, obviously.

    On the duck eggs, I'm afraid to dry incubation. I think they need a higher humidity because they are, after all, duck eggs. But I could be wrong--still, most of the duck experts recommend the higher humidity, so I'm afraid to try the lower. On the bantam eggs, I thought about doing the lower humidity, but I read in several places that because bantam eggs are so small they are at higher risk of evaporating too much, and so the dry incubation methods are recommended. As it was, the air cells on them were more than a third of the volume of the egg by hatching time. I think if I ever hatch full-size chicken eggs I will try lowering the humidity, though! Also, has anyone here ever used a lower humidity for duck eggs successfully? I would be willing to try it if I knew others had had success with it.

    Thank you, all three of you, for the ideas. I will continue to play around with it and let you know. Obviously, I can't do anything about how these eggs were stored. But on my next setting, I'm going to see what a difference it makes to store them cooler. [​IMG]
  7. happi752

    happi752 Songster

    Sep 12, 2009
    Casa Grande
    The only other thing I can think of, would be maybe it is time to completely scrub down the bator and disinfect it. This means tearing it completely down, scrubbing every inch screws, screens, light bulb, electrical.

    Bacteria hidden can infect the eggs and drop your hatch rate considerably.
  8. mypicklebird

    mypicklebird Songster

    Aug 8, 2008
    Sonoma Co, CA
    Duck eggs are harder than chicken eggs, so I would be happy with those percentages! I store my chicken eggs on my counter for up to 2 weeks sometimes, and still have good results. Temp in the house is around 60-65 degrees. When storing eggs- be sure to store in cartons with the pointy end down (which you are doing), and TURN them 3-4x a day. Tilt each one gently back and forth to keep the yolk centered. You do not want it settling to the bottom or sides where it can stick (then the chick will have trouble turning). I will often store my eggs in the auto turner on the counter and have it running. This replaces the turning and twiddling the hen does naturally with the eggs when she is setting.
  9. Whitehouse Quail

    Whitehouse Quail Songster

    Jul 1, 2009
    I'd say definately check the thermometer, but that's just me. [​IMG]
  10. eggsrcool

    eggsrcool Sussex Fanatic

    Would it be possible to store the eggs laying flat, with the rounded end slightly elevated? I am going to try and see if it will improve my hatch rates. I have also read that trimming the feathers around the vent area on the hens and cockerels can improve the fertility of the eggs. You may also want to calibrate the thermometer, as the temps maybe out. Good luck! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2009

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