How to Prevent Chicks From Dying in Eggs?

Discussion in 'Quail' started by TillinWithMyPeeps, Feb 14, 2010.

  1. TillinWithMyPeeps

    TillinWithMyPeeps Waiting for Spring...

    Aug 22, 2008
    Ohio
    I have Coturnix eggs in the incubator, due to hatch Tomorrow or Tuesday. The last time I hatched eggs, a few fully developed chicks died in the eggs. Is there any way to prevent this? Is it the temperature? Humidity?
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010
  2. Overeasyplz

    Overeasyplz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 8, 2009
    Leesburg
    Is it a forced air incubator? i learned from JJMR794 that if the fan is blowing in the chicks it causes the shrink wrapping thing to happen. I'm using a brinsea eco 20 and the fan blows down all the time. I use a sanitary napkin to cover most of the airflow to keep the chicks from drying out. I also wet it down too to keep the humidity high. And some chicks just die. I think there is some factor that keeps them from making it to full term. Could be a congenital defect, malformation inside the body, who knows.
     
  3. Quail27

    Quail27 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had some eggs shipped to me and they hatched 2 days ago. I set 7, and 6 hatched, and when I opened up the last egg there was a fully formed chick inside, dead. It never even tried to pip and I could not hear any chirping from its egg.
    I too wish I knew how to prevent that. It was really sad, knowing this baby was ready for life outside the egg, and something happened to snuff out its life.
    I am extremely happy though that with eggs shipped from ebay in winter, every single one that I set developed into a chick and all the other ones are doing great.
     
  4. mustanger

    mustanger Out Of The Brooder

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    I believe the answer lies in the humidity levels that are maintained at the beginning of the hatch. The egg needs to have the liquid reduced by lower humidity at the beginning. This allows a larger air space to develop and reduces the size of the chick at hatch. The chick needs this air at the end of the hatch to survive when it starts to break out. Also, if the chick is too large, it cannot turn properly in the shell to pick clear.

    David
     
  5. JJMR794

    JJMR794 Overrun With Chickens

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    Mar 2, 2009
    BROOKSVILLE FL
    HELPFUL HINT--- Dont just take my word on this it has been covered here before and works like a charm! So search for the string and you'll see-----

    When you go into lockdown place your eggs in trays so they are upright--- large end up and stay that way! ---- Do not lower your humidity!

    Here's the reasoning--- many chicks die while trying to pip/zip by drowning--- yes i typed the word drowning! Try and follow me here and we'll look it over so it makes sense--- the chick is in its warm toasty calcified egg ready to hatch right? lets look at egg structure and anatomy--- shell, outer membrane( the 1 thats against the inside of the shell) inner membrane, amniotic fluid which supports and lubricates the chick, and junior who wants to get outta here cause its gettin a lil cramped!

    Keeping that in mind....

    chick goes to hatch--- has to break thru inner membrane 1st( this triggers a response where the chick starts absorbing all the blood that was in this membrane (it works as the embryo's lung) so now no more oxygen rich blood unless it breathes right? still have to break thru the outer membrane and shell to do that--- even if the lad manages this without dying from asphixiation( lack of oxygen) it still has to zip all the way( or nearly all the way) around the shell---- now if its lying on it's side where does all that amniotic fluid go? The lowest point in the container! if jr is a lil backward, or the fluid cannot drain out of the shell then he drowns in his own amniotic fluid!

    set the eggs upright for lockdown and this is what you get--- all the amniotic fluid stays at the lower part of the shell so jr has plenty of time to extricate himself from the egg without drowning as well as it helps delay or prevent the membranes from drying up and "shrink wrapping" jr into the egg and preventing him from hatching.

    keep your higher humidity to 1. increase the moisture content of the egg wall and thereby make it softer and easier for jr to break through 2. keeps the lazy lack-a-daisical jrs from drying out and getting "shrink wrapped" as easily.

    This will improve your hatch rate and has been proven time and time again--- I dare ya to try it, and you'll see for yourself [​IMG]
     
    Stinkerbella and Jez Family like this.
  6. mustanger

    mustanger Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 23, 2010
    Most of the information that I have found recommends keeping the humidity at a lower level at the beginning of the hatch and raising it during the last few days so that the chick has a easier time of it during the pip stage. My references for this have been publications by the land grant Universities. The aggies of the world if you will. I don't think JJ and I are disagreeing, but I think the first two thirds of the incubation period needs to be drier than the last third. In fact, some of the publications recommend a process where you weigh the eggs to track the weight loss. My experience is with chickens, not quail so that might be somewhat different. I wouldn't think it would be too much as the process should be pretty much the same. I know that you have to reduce the water volume in an egg during the beginning of incubation or you will not achieve a very high percentage. Some folks with high humidity throughout the incubation have lost them all.

    David
     
  7. TillinWithMyPeeps

    TillinWithMyPeeps Waiting for Spring...

    Aug 22, 2008
    Ohio
    In the past 2 days or so I upped the humidity alot to hepl with the hatch, but for the rest of the incubation process, I kept it pretty low.

    Also, because I do not have official egg trays, I improvised by doing this:

    [​IMG]

    I set the eggs big end up (pointy end down) in pine shavings to hold them up.

    I hope this works.
     
  8. Zgoatlady

    Zgoatlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 20, 2009
    Enumclaw, WA
    My Coop
    the shavings will dry them out.
     
  9. JJMR794

    JJMR794 Overrun With Chickens

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    Mar 2, 2009
    BROOKSVILLE FL
    A little clarification for the last post in light of Davids post--- I should have been a tad more specific (sorry) For the incubation period try and maintain a humdity of 45-55% then in the lock down phase go to a much higher humidity--- 70+% . Any gamebird egg is very very very humidity dependant. Drier incubation will likely lead to catastrophiccally low hatch rates.( dont dry incubate as some folks do with chicken eggs=== bad mojo here!) Maintain adequate humidity during the cooking phase and jack it high during the hatch [​IMG]



    Oh yeah--- shavings in the bator? I dunno if it's harmful or not, but I would just use regular egg crate/ carton, may not make a difference, but clean up's a lot easier!
     
  10. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    Jun 15, 2008
    Shavings will cause 2 issues. Those eggs are unlikely to stay upright and any membrane or chick that touches the shavings will cause the moisture to be wicked right on out of the egg drying the chick to the inside. 2nd problem is all softwood shavings give off volatile oils. This is what gives cedar it's smell and why it's rarely used because it can cause deaths. The more open the area you are using them in the less of those fumes sit around. Pine shavings are generally ok because at most you use them in a brooder with an open top. In an incubator you are just cooking those fumes out of the wood with the heat and then trapping it in the bator. Unless you use hardwood shavings like aspen you are well on your way to making a killing chamber complete with deadly gasses.

    You cannot prevent all dead in shell chicks. There are way too many issues and the larger your hatch the more difficult it is to maintain the humidity at the right point for all the chicks especially if they don't hatch close together. If they do hatch close together in a large hatch they can raise the humidity a lot drowning a few of the slightly later ones. Then there's deformities, weak chicks, and other potential problems that you really can't do anything about except working on your breeding program or try to make sure you get better quality, fresher eggs.

    After all of that then we get to humidity causing deaths. You can lessen a few deaths by first making sure your humidity is correct through incubation. If you look around the internet you will find what percentage of weight every type of bird egg should lose during incubation. Weigh your eggs and judge your humidity off that. It actually makes it real easy to get the correct humidity for your situation if you just weigh even the occasional hatch.

    When it gets time to stop turning them then yes you should raise humidity. How much depends on your location and incubator. What works for one person will not work for another. I hatch my quail at 70% in a still air hova. A forced air tends to need a higher humidity because of the air blowing right across the chicks. This is where you have to experiment. Try one humidity and see how many drown or dry out. Alter it a little for the next hatch and keep going until you can get as close to perfect as possible. Again though we still have the chicks themselves altering the humidity during hatching and in a small incubator it will not be possible to maintain a perfect humidity throughout the hatch. Setting eggs upright can help prevent drowning if you are running the humidity a little high or during times the humidity spikes when several hatch. Some chicks may also be lost to pipping the wrong way and suffocating on the carton or other material holding the egg up. Several times now I've slipped a coat hanger wire through the vent hole of my incubator in order to flip a quail or chicken egg out of the cartons because I noticed it pipped wrong. Hatching in a carton sometimes stirs up debates because it's not fool proof either.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2010

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