Late incubation death advice


5 Years
Mar 16, 2014
SE Michigan
I have been raising turkeys from poults for nearly 20 years. With a pair of Little Giant incubators, I raised a few dozen turkeys last year (out of many dozen eggs). This year I built a new incubator, which develops them to lockdown with a great deal of success, but it's not a good hatcher due to a design flaw that places the water pan under the hatching eggs. The eggs are set in Little Giant egg turners for continuous slow turning.

I tried hatching the last few sets in the LG but my hatch rate is abysmal with the shipped eggs, averaging 19% of eggs going into lockdown. Deaths seem to occur between 21 and 28 days. Air cell development is proportional with time, I have been incubating at lower humidity as the weather warms and ambient humidity climbs.

My incubator is a forced air, with very stable temperatures digitally controlled and set at 37.5C with a maximum 0.3C swing. The Little Giants were also controlled with an STC-1000, the first was a forced air and the second was a still air, both set at 37.5C. Because of the abysmal hatches, I just purchased a Leahy 65-4, which is a small tabletop still air redwood incubator that holds 44 turkey to 65 chicken eggs. I moved the eggs from the LG to the Leahy after one day of lockdown, before the first pip. Humidity in the Leahy was 65% before hatching, and is at 73% with hatching started.

I have five thermometers, one medical, two AccuRite temp/humidity, one meat thermometer, one Miller incubator thermometer. The readings on all five show 99.5-100.4 in both the incubator and hatcher. Pips start late day 27 or on day 28, right on schedule.

The first pip did zip and hatch within 18 hours of pip. I just assisted two more poults that had pipped over 24 hours ago without zipping. They were properly positioned, pipped exactly on the "X" marking the lowest dip in the air cell, cheeped vigorously, but never zipped. My assist was to open the air cell and pull back the two membranes, and they finished the job in less than half an hour with no further complications.

I do need to improve my hatch percentages, and figure out why so many poults fail after day 21. I generally candle once, some time between day 10 and day 14, to weed out clears but otherwise just leave them in if there are any signs of development.

Very few poults appear to fail after lockdown, other than those that are too big to maneuver and zip or are malpositioned (very few). They are failing with fully exposed yolk and with a significant amount of amniotic fluid surrounding them.

I suspect that the foam incubators, even sanitized with bleach before each use, are contributing to the problem. It doesn't appear to be bacterial contamination, though, as the breakouts don't smell any more foul than a several day dead embryo normally does.

I bought the redwood incubator to get away from the foam, but I am grasping at straws. Can someone who is very successful with turkey hatching please help me with troubleshooting?

Thank you.
Last few years the same has happened to me.
This year I have reduced the amount of water in the incubator and in a week my first hatch this year is due.
I am thinking that my issue is the humidity because the incubation timing happens right when my wood furnace is in its last use for the year.
Meaning I think that when I stopped using my wood furnace to heat the house is when my problems become more intense.
So I am trying to reflect that change in the houses humidity to the incubator.
I crossing my fingers.
I just did breakouts at day 30 on all. Of 22 eggs in lockdown, 5 died somewhere around the time of lockdown. 3 hatched, and one is hatching after I created an external pip.

The others were all heartbreaking. Fully formed poults, two malpositioned with head between legs but yolks fully absorbed. The remainder had internally pipped but never converted to external pip. Only two had moisture in the air cell released during internal pip, the others were normal "dry" air cells. None of the internal pips were excessively wet and none were sticky. Outer and inner membranes were normal and pliable, so humidity seems to be okay.

So the poults seem to be too large to move into correct hatching position. How do I correct for this? Are my incubation temperatures too low despite the consensus of 99.5-100.5 in a forced air incubator?
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So the poults seem to be too large to move into correct hatching position. How do I correct for this? Are my incubation temperatures too low despite the consensus of 99.5-100.5 in a forced air incubator?

The same was happen to me.
My issues were happening when I thought the temperatures was to high.
I was having early hatches.
I have helped hatch so many poults in the last couple years that I ready got a good understanding of what I can make survive and what I am wasting my time on.
Early hatches are easier then late.
Late ones struggle more..
My first hatch is a week away so I will find out soon if my theory of humidity is correct or not.
I ready don't know what else it could be.
I have beaten that dead horse for two years now.
I hope my adjustments answer my questions.
As of your question?. I don't know for sure but everything sounds the same.

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