Lockdown timing and containers for eggs at lockdown... questions!!!

Advertisement Purina Flock Layer


8 Years
Jul 11, 2011
First off, an easier question: Friday evening, late, will be the official start of day 18 for my eggs. However, I am leaving Thursday afternoon to be out of town... my husband will be here to keep an eye on things, but I would rather not worry him with actually "locking down" the eggs for me (this is more my project than his, and he has a lot going on... plus I'm a bit OCD with my eggs...). Would it be reasonable to lock them down- remove from the turner and bump up humidity- shortly before the official start of day 17? I suppose technically it would be about 32 hours before the start of day 18. Would this be a big problem or should I just leave directions for him to take care of Friday night/Saturday morning???

Secondly, any advice on using containers for hatching?? Previously I've had issues with hatched chicks running crazily around the bator, bumping the remaining eggs all over the place. My last batch I had 18 eggs fully developed and only 9 hatched. Two pipped and stopped, one even zipped then stopped, and after I examined the non-hatchers, they were all fully developed and yolk absorbed. I'm wondering if all the "beating up" made it difficult for them to orient themselves in the eggs?? I know people have talked about hatching out in egg cartons with the round end of the egg up, but that just doesn't seem natural to me... Any other suggestions or experience- good or bad- with egg cartons? I was thinking of taking a piece of cardboard and cutting out holes that the eggs would be able to lie in on their sides, but not be shifted around or rolled by other hatchlings... does this sound reasonable??

Thanks for any input, I'm going to be stressing over it while I'm gone but part of me is glad that I'll be coming back home just in time for the fun stuff to have already started! ;)
First, let’s count days. An egg does not have a full day’s worth of development two seconds or two hours after it is put in the incubator. It takes 24 hours for it to have a day’s worth of development. Lockdown should be after 18 days of development. Hatch should be after 21 days of development. An easy way to check your counting is the day of the week you start them is the day of the week they should hatch. If you set them on a Tuesday, they should hatch on a Tuesday. If you come up with Monday instead of Tuesday whenever you count, try again. Or whatever day you actually started on.

I make that sound as if it is important to be precise in your counting. It’s not really. Eggs can hatch two days or more early or late, either under a hen or in an incubator. There are a lot of things that can affect if it is early, late, or on time; heredity, humidity, or just the way the hen put the egg together. A big variable is the average incubating temperature. If it is a bit warm, they should be early. If it is a bit cool, they’ll probably be late.

The eggs really don’t need to be turned after 14 days. It doesn’t hurt to turn them, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Before 14 days it’s critical, especially the first week. There is nothing wrong with taking them out of the turner before your trip.

There are two things working on the humidity. The eggs need to lose a certain amount of moisture during incubation. Again, that doesn’t have to be a real precise number, more of a range. This is important. If it loses too much moisture the membrane inside the egg can shrink around the chick and prevent it from hatching. If it does not lose enough, you get what is called sticky chick. The chick cannot position itself for pip and hatch.

But then, before the egg external pips, you need to raise the humidity enough so that the membrane does not dry out and shrink around he chick. Yes, there are two ways to shrink wrap a chick, too dry during incubation or too dry during hatch. The critical thing is not number of days for raising the humidity, it’s doing it before it external pips. You don’t know when that external pip will occur. I’ve had eggs pipping when I went into lockdown. They still hatched.

Normally, if you have followed the guidelines, by the end of 18 days of development the humidity has dropped enough and you will raise the humidity before pip. Normally. It’s a pretty good target to use.

If you don’t trust your husband to handle it right, take care of it before you leave. It’s not an ideal situation but the odds are reasonable that it will work.

I’ve had plenty of chicks hatch after the others have played rugby with the, so I’m not real concerned about the chicks moving the eggs around. But some people are really concerned about it. The egg carton thing with the fat side up works. What you are describing sounds like it should work. Just one caution. The chicks before and after they hatch need to breathe oxygen. Don’t put something solid in there that will block air movement. Cut enough holes so you get good air exchange.

Good luck!
Wow, thanks for the thorough response! :) The way I look at it is this- I set the eggs late at night, around 10pm or so. That's the start of day 1. It is day 1 until 10pm the following night, when it then becomes day 2.... and so forth until day 21. With the variability in hatching, I expect hatching any time *on* day 21 or within 24-36 hours of the completion of day 21. Does that make sense?? Of course they might start sooner than that too, but I think I've wrapped my brain around it... What I'm going with is the general idea that most people go into lockdown *on* day 18, which means to me, any time within the 24 hour time period that is day 18. Like you said, probably not so critical to be this exact... lol Glad to have the reassurance about locking down a bit early. Maybe what I'll do is set them up right before I leave and just have DH add warm water to the second reservoir Saturday morning, which would be "midway" through day 18... Reasonable??? :)

As for the container- air circulation and restriction of pipping were my main concerns with the egg cartons- I know some people will cut the bottoms out from each spot, but it just seems unnatural to me to have the eggs upright to hatch and was worried about a pip being started against the cardboard and presenting more of a challenge. My idea was more of a sheet than a container- the way I was thinking of it, I 'd use just a flat sheet of cardboard with holes cut out (thinking sort of like the little stands they make to dry easter eggs after dying them) that would just keep the eggs from rolling around but they wouldn't literally be contained or have any restriction of air flow. Does that seem better?

Thanks again for your input! Always reassuring to have other experiences to pull from! :)

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