Late Term Embryo Death

cjhubbs

In the Brooder
7 Years
Sep 6, 2012
51
1
39
NH
Hi Everyone,
So I guess the title says it all. I have been incubating a dozen of shipped Light Sussex eggs and 10 barnyard cross eggs from home and they aren't hatching well. I have never had a great hatch, the best being 10/28 eggs but this hatch is down right disappointing with so far two out of 22 eggs. I understand that there is always variables with shipped eggs but I was wondering why I am be always having later term chicks dieing? I know it is really a hard question to answer but why might be some reasons? Also I tried to keep the humidity between 40-25% on time it did dip down to 15% when I was away but that was only for one day. Also I was only able to get the humidity to reach 48% during lockdown because the darn little giant incubator wouldn't go any higher with all of the water wells filled to the brim :/... Thanks so much for the help!
 

A.T. Hagan

Don't Panic
12 Years
Aug 13, 2007
5,379
210
303
North/Central Florida
Well, this might take a little investigating so I'll ask a few questions to get the ball rolling.

Have you ever calibrated your hygrometer? I've yet to see an electronic one that was spot on and sometimes they can be off by twenty points or more.

The humidity dip in the day 1-18 incubation period isn't likely a problem. The humidity running really low in the last three days can be. Or running way high for that matter if your hygrometer is seriously off and the true humidity was higher than you thought.

If it really was that low then a mister bottle of water can help a lot. About three times a day take the lid off and mist the eggs LIGHTLY then put the lid back on. Lightly means you can just see the water glistening on the eggs, not so much it beads up and runs off.

Also, is your incubator fan driven or still air?
 

cjhubbs

In the Brooder
7 Years
Sep 6, 2012
51
1
39
NH
I did calibrate my hydrometer last year but have not calibrated it this year because I never though about it. Yeah I figured the humidity dip during the first 18 days was fine but that humidity percentage if accurate was to low. I never though about the mister bottle thanks for the tip! The incubator is still air.
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
13 Years
Nov 18, 2007
26,087
18,458
781
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
During what part of the incubation period are your chicks dying? If the humidity is too high during the first 18 days condensation can build up in the egg and the chicks can drown. The eggs need to loose some moisture during the first 18 days while they are developing. During the last 3 days they need the moisture so they can turn to pip, zip and hatch. If they don't have enough moisture during lockdown they can get stuck in the shell and die. By your post I assume you are using a Little Giant (LG) still air incubator. The temp should be around 100 to 101 in a still air incubator. You can always add wet sponges to bring the humidity up during lockdown. I keep my humidity during incubation around 35% and 75% during lockdown. My last hatch of 61 eggs only 3 didn't hatch.

Here is a good thread with a lot of great tips and tricks. https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/601352/little-giant-incubator-tricks
 

cjhubbs

In the Brooder
7 Years
Sep 6, 2012
51
1
39
NH
For the most part all of the chicks that I have seen were developing quite nicely and then died during the last few days of incubation and were full term. I tried to keep the humidity in the incubator around 40% max and let it gradually lessen to 25% over 3-4 days then refill and again. I am using a Little Giant Still Air Incubator and like I said the humidity wouldn't go higher then 40% with the wells filled. Thanks for the tip on the sponges and the link for tricks on incubating with the L.G. I find it odd that my hatch rate was so low this time around though normally I have atleast 1/3 of the chicks hatch and only have three. I did try to sanitize the incubator and egg turner but I guess washing with hot water, scrubbing with soap, using bleach and air dry may not have sterilized it enough :/. Thanks again!
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
13 Years
Nov 18, 2007
26,087
18,458
781
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
I think your hatch rate is a humidity issue. If you use some of the tips in the LG thread, I think your hatch rate will go up. I have my incubators in a room I can close off from the rest of the house which is dedicated as the hatchery where I can keep the climate of the room more stable. With an humidity issue some have also put a humidifier in the room they hatch in. Before I would use a humidifier I would try other methods that are suggested in the LG Tricks thread. Some people if they don't have a room they use a closet.

I don't usually put bleach in my incubators. I just wash them with soap and water. As I look at it when a broody sits on eggs, she isn't concerned with how sanitized the nest is and I have had 100% hatches with my broody's. If my styrofoam incubators get extremely dirty I have put bleach in them but only if I am putting them away for awhile and I know the residual from the bleach after rinsing well will eventually dissipate. Hope your hatches turn out better. Good luck and have fun...

 
Last edited:

PlatteRiverPs

Chirping
6 Years
Apr 16, 2013
147
5
71
For me, 40% is too high and it leads to full term deaths and large chicks/tiny air cells. Fans helped a bit and kept the humidity at 20%-25%.

Keep an eye on your your air cells, they will tell you what is happening if you think humidity is your problem. I only add water at lockdown now.
 

Keggen

Songster
7 Years
May 24, 2012
264
1
108
Minnesota
I agree about the humidity. Lower in the first 18 days, about 20-40% seems to be average from what I've read here. Then you want to bump it up to 70-80% for lockdown. I couldn't get high enough humidity in mine until I added some saturated pads in the bottom. You could use new, unused sponges as well. They will hold more water for you.
 

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