Input pls - when to "give up"


Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
Chicken eggs in the incubator, did dry incubation of 12 eggs this time. Three were infertile, removed about 12 days ago. Of the remaining nine eight have externally pit and six of the eight have hatched. Eggs were collected and put in the incubator over a three-day period. The last two eggs to externally pimp were from day 3. I have one egg from day one which has not yet externally picked. To the extent I can candle it, there is a decent-sized air sac at the proper end, and the rest of the egg is quite dark. Cannot see any movement, though the darkness of the shell makes that a little difficult. How many more days should I wait before carefully cracking it open to egg topsy? Today is day 22 for that egg.


Aug 1, 2020
Midwest USA
If you’re not seeing movement, I would go ahead and make just a safety hole. Not sure if you know what that is, but it is basically where you take a small screw or drill bit (a screw is better though), and just twist the tip back and forth right over the air cell (watching out for the chick inside the egg,) until it makes a small hole. You just want the tip of the screw to make a hole, not the whole screw.

This gives them more recirculated air and when they have pipped internally for awhile but not externally. Then You should wait another day or two, and then If he still hasn’t made any progress, that’s when you can start chipping away at the shell, using the small hole you’ve made as a starting point. Good luck, and I hope for the be


Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
How many more days should I wait before carefully cracking it open to egg topsy?

I typically start off responding to this type of question with a question, are you counting the days right, so don't be too offended. This is a real common mistake on this forum. It takes 24 hours for an egg to have a days worth of development. So when you start counting you say "zero" when you put the egg in the incubator or under a broody and wait until the next day to say "one". An easy way to check your counting is that the day of the week you set the eggs is the day of the week the 21 days is up. If you set them on a Friday the 21 days are up on a Friday.

I'm not saying that is the day they should hatch, that's the day 21 days are up. I've had eggs hatch a full 48 hours or so early under a broody hen or in my calibrated incubator. Others have had them hatch under a broody hen two full days late or even a bit more. The 21 days is the target but there are different reasons they may be early or late. Heredity, humidity, how an how long they are stored, and just differences in individual eggs can make a difference. A big factor is average incubation temperature. If the average incubation temperature is a bit warm they can hatch early. Cool and they can be late. It's even possible in an incubator for one spot to be a bit warmer or cooler than other spots, especially in homemade incubators. Before a chick hatches it absorbs the remaining yolk. A chick can typically live at least three days off of that yolk without eating or drinking. It's nature's way of letting the early hatchers wait on the late hatchers.

My incubator hatches are typically around 20 chicks. Most broody hens get 12 eggs. Some of my hatches are totally over within 16 hours or so of the the first one to hatch. I like those. I've had some last over 48 hours and into the third day. What a pain. I had a broody hen hatch her first chick late Monday and not bring them off the nest until early Friday, about 3-1/2 days. I had one incubator hatch where one single chick hatched one evening and nothing for a full 24 hours. No pip, no nothing. Then I saw a few pips just before I went to bed. By the next morning when I got up I had 16 more chicks and the hatch was over.

I've gone through all this to try to answer your question, when to give up. When is the hatch over? I don't have a clue. I let my broody hens decide when to bring the chicks off the nest, those broodies know more by instinct about being broody than I'll ever learn. I let the broody hens take all that stress off of me.

With an incubator it can be rough. After all these years I go by feel more than any hard and fast rules. Each hatch is different and has its own feel. I generally wait 24 hours after the last one hatched without seeing a sign but that would have been a disaster with that one hatch above.

Sorry that last one did not hatch but 8 out of 9 that developed is pretty good. I'd be happy with that.

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