how long to keep unhatched eggs?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by rellikmalinois, Aug 7, 2013.

  1. rellikmalinois

    rellikmalinois Out Of The Brooder

    78
    0
    39
    Jun 18, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Hello, How long past their due date do you keep eggs in the incubator?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,115
    3,321
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Looking at your avatar I think you might be talking about ducks, but I’ll use chickens. The same principles apply for chickens, ducks, turkeys, whatever. I’m not sure if you are talking about “if none hatch” or “after some have hatched”.

    In theory chicken eggs should hatch after 21 days of incubation but that’s just theory. Many things affect when eggs hatch, heredity, humidity, how and how long the eggs were stored, and just plain differences in individual eggs. A big factor is average incubation temperature. If the average incubation temperature is a bit warm, they can be early. If it is cool, they can be late. I’ve had eggs under a broody and in an incubator hatch over two full days early. I’ve had some right on time. Mine are never late but others have reported eggs in an incubator and under a broody a few days late. That 21 days is just a theory. Reality is often different.

    I’ve had hatches that were totally over in less than 18 hours from the first to the last. I’ve had hatches that stretch out well over two days. In my last hatch, I had one chick out a full 24 hours before any other egg even pipped. Eventually 17 other chicks hatched.

    My point in all this is that the due date is not that critical to me. It’s when do I think the hatch s over, that all have hatched that are going to. That’s not always real easy to determine.

    If none have hatched, I’d suggest at least three extra days unless you have enough experience with that incubator to have a real good feel for it. If you have not seen an egg move, heard a chick peep inside the egg when you tap the side of the incubator, or seen a pip by then, odds are not great. You can always do the float test if an egg has not pipped. Put some warm water in a basin and float any egg that has not pipped when the water is still. If there is a live chick in there the egg will wiggle on its own. If the egg is dead still that late in the process, there is not a live chick inside. If an egg wiggles, put them back in the incubator.

    It gets trickier if some have hatched. A chick can go three days without food or water since they absorbed the yolk so you don’t have to be in that big a hurry to open the incubator and take them out. If some have hatched I generally wait about 18 hours after the last one to hatch to take them out. If I see a new pip, I wait longer. You can still do the float test on the eggs that have not pipped if you want to but I’ve not had a live chick when I open the unhatched ones to analyze what went wrong.

    If you wish, you can leave the unhatched eggs a few days longer after you take the chicks out. I’ve tried that and never had one hatch doing that.

    Once you get a few hatches with your incubator you get a feel for what should happen. It gets easier with that experience.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. rellikmalinois

    rellikmalinois Out Of The Brooder

    78
    0
    39
    Jun 18, 2013
    New Hampshire
    thanks for the response! my avatar are buff orpingtons. I am actually referring to Quail. I bought a retiring breeders stock and she included all her eggs. I wasn't far from home so took a chance and blasted my heat the ride home. She did not regulate humidity, just heat and just threw eggs in daily. Ive had about 20 hatch so far but had a few eggs that were "due" to hatch about 3-4 days ago. Its not the way I would incubate and I don't plan on continuing that way.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by