Low Hatch Rate

Claires Poultry

Crossing the Road
Mar 24, 2019
3,650
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852
Out chillin' with my ducks!
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Hello everyone! Thank you in advance for any and all suggestions!
I have an advanced Brinsea incubator and I am having low hatch rates. It is all automatic and everything so it should work really well. I have read a lot of reviews about how they always have high hatching rates because they are such good incubators. It is of my understanding that a good average hatch rate is about 85%.
My last hatch had about a 30% hatch rate with fertile eggs. I am thinking that maybe I am not cleaning the incubator thoroughly enough and that is why it is giving me low hatch rates.
I do everything all natural and I don't use chemicals. I clean the non-electrical parts in the sink with soap and warm water. Then after I have cleaned them with soap I disinfect them with vinegar. For the electrical parts I go over them with a rag dampened in vinegar.
I know that dirty incubators can give you a low hatch rate. I am wondering if perhaps the vinegar isn't cleaning the incubator good enough and that is why I am having low hatch rates.
I am thinking I might try to let the incubator sit out in the sun for a while to solarize it. Maybe it would help get rid of the harmful bacteria.
Does anybody else out there have experience with cleaning incubators with vinegar and still having good hatch rates? Can you think of what the problem might be? Does anybody have any ideas for cleaning an incubator naturally?
 

starri33

Crowing
Feb 28, 2016
1,086
2,987
357
Golden Valley AZ
Hello everyone! Thank you in advance for any and all suggestions!
I have an advanced Brinsea incubator and I am having low hatch rates. It is all automatic and everything so it should work really well. I have read a lot of reviews about how they always have high hatching rates because they are such good incubators. It is of my understanding that a good average hatch rate is about 85%.
My last hatch had about a 30% hatch rate with fertile eggs. I am thinking that maybe I am not cleaning the incubator thoroughly enough and that is why it is giving me low hatch rates.
I do everything all natural and I don't use chemicals. I clean the non-electrical parts in the sink with soap and warm water. Then after I have cleaned them with soap I disinfect them with vinegar. For the electrical parts I go over them with a rag dampened in vinegar.
I know that dirty incubators can give you a low hatch rate. I am wondering if perhaps the vinegar isn't cleaning the incubator good enough and that is why I am having low hatch rates.
I am thinking I might try to let the incubator sit out in the sun for a while to solarize it. Maybe it would help get rid of the harmful bacteria.
Does anybody else out there have experience with cleaning incubators with vinegar and still having good hatch rates? Can you think of what the problem might be? Does anybody have any ideas for cleaning an incubator naturally?
When you candle your eggs are they showing non-fertile? I am not familiar with the brand of incubator you have, I've got a little janeol 12, it hatches 6 at a time as my chickens lay large to X-Large eggs. I've had 5 hatches and have hatched 5 out of 6, how is your humidity and the temp? the vinegar should be working just fine. I wash the two trays, egg cradle and the bottom of the incubator with soap and water, wipe down the top, when I get ready to set another batch, I'll wipe it all down again, mainly just using plain old water.. my temp stays pretty stable, it's a auto turner, the humidity can be all over the place.. so I have to keep a eye on it. I'd look more towards something is up with the egg..
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
24,292
12,562
707
Southeast Louisiana
There are a lot of reasons you might be getting a low hatch rate. Are the 70% that don't hatch turning into rotten eggs that smell horrible? If that is not happening them cleaning your incubator is not the problem.

Have you opened the unhatched eggs to see if they developed and then quit or just never started developing? That's the first hing the professional hatchers do so they have an idea what is going on.

Are they your eggs or someone else's eggs? Shipped eggs often have low hatch rates because they get shaken when shipped or may go through some environmental extremes. If they are yours how long do you store them before you incubate them and how do you store them? Do they go through temperature extremes? Are you storing them either flat or pointy side down? Do you turn them if they are stored for several days?

Have you calibrated your incubator to assure the temperature is correct? Brinsea is a really good incubator but sometimes the factory settings are not as good as they could be. I don't trust that any incubator thermostat is set properly until I check it. What humidity are you using?

The more you can tell us about what you are doing the more likely we can come up with suggestions to help. It's hard to diagnose a disease if you don't know the symptoms.
 

Claires Poultry

Crossing the Road
Mar 24, 2019
3,650
16,924
852
Out chillin' with my ducks!
My Coop
My Coop
The majority of the eggs were fertile when I candled them. There was only a few that weren't. I keep the temperature between 99.3 and 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity at 40-50%. The incubator also has an egg turner so I don't have to turn the eggs by hand.
I wonder if the low hatch rate has something to do with the feed that the chickens are eating. I just feed them wheat. But the interesting thing is I feed my Muscovy ducks the exact same thing and they have great hatch rates - sometimes, actually quite often they have a 100% hatch rate.
 

Claires Poultry

Crossing the Road
Mar 24, 2019
3,650
16,924
852
Out chillin' with my ducks!
My Coop
My Coop
Diet of the parent stock does make a huge difference.

How old are the birds you are collecting eggs from
And
Do you have a separately purchased calibrated thermometer in the bator?
The birds I was collecting the eggs from were 1 year old Black Australorps. I did not have a separately purchased thermometer that I was using in the incubator.
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
24,292
12,562
707
Southeast Louisiana
Diet of the parents could be a part of it. Do they forage for much other than what you feed them? I imaging you grow your own wheat, makes sense to feed it. But wheat by itself does not provide a lot of the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other things they need. You can try buying a complete chicken feed and try feeding them that a couple of weeks before you collect eggs to incubate and see if that helps.

At what stage do the eggs that start to develop quit? If it is within the first week of incubation it is usually something that happens to the eggs before incubation starts. If it is during the last week it is usually something to do with the incubation. That may tell you where to look hardest.

If you can find a thermometer you trust, like a medical thermometer that has already been calibrated, check it out to assure the temperature is pretty close to right. That is actually a pretty common problem. Are you putting the eggs in the turner pointy side don, that can make a big difference. From what you describe you really should be doing better. I'll include links to a couple of incubating troubleshooting guides that might help.

Mississippi State Incubation Troubleshooting

http://extension.msstate.edu/content/trouble-shooting-failures-egg-incubation


Illinois Incubation troubleshooting

http://urbanext.illinois.edu/eggs/res24-00.html
 

Claires Poultry

Crossing the Road
Mar 24, 2019
3,650
16,924
852
Out chillin' with my ducks!
My Coop
My Coop
There are a lot of reasons you might be getting a low hatch rate. Are the 70% that don't hatch turning into rotten eggs that smell horrible? If that is not happening them cleaning your incubator is not the problem.

Have you opened the unhatched eggs to see if they developed and then quit or just never started developing? That's the first hing the professional hatchers do so they have an idea what is going on.

Are they your eggs or someone else's eggs? Shipped eggs often have low hatch rates because they get shaken when shipped or may go through some environmental extremes. If they are yours how long do you store them before you incubate them and how do you store them? Do they go through temperature extremes? Are you storing them either flat or pointy side down? Do you turn them if they are stored for several days?

Have you calibrated your incubator to assure the temperature is correct? Brinsea is a really good incubator but sometimes the factory settings are not as good as they could be. I don't trust that any incubator thermostat is set properly until I check it. What humidity are you using?

The more you can tell us about what you are doing the more likely we can come up with suggestions to help. It's hard to diagnose a disease if you don't know the symptoms.

Some of the eggs do turn rotten and smell bad and some of them are fully developed and just don't hatch.

Any of the eggs that don't hatch I crack open and look at them. Some of the eggs have half-way developed chicks in them.

The eggs are from my own 1 year old Black Australorp chickens. They have not been shipped. I store them for no longer than 7 days and turn them daily. I store them in egg cartons pointy side down. I only use clean, unsoiled eggs for hatching. I keep the eggs out of direct sunlight and in temperatures around 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

I double check the temperature of the incubator every time I use it. I keep the temperature of the incubator between 99.3 and 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity at 40-50%.
 

Claires Poultry

Crossing the Road
Mar 24, 2019
3,650
16,924
852
Out chillin' with my ducks!
My Coop
My Coop
Diet of the parents could be a part of it. Do they forage for much other than what you feed them? I imaging you grow your own wheat, makes sense to feed it. But wheat by itself does not provide a lot of the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other things they need. You can try buying a complete chicken feed and try feeding them that a couple of weeks before you collect eggs to incubate and see if that helps.

At what stage do the eggs that start to develop quit? If it is within the first week of incubation it is usually something that happens to the eggs before incubation starts. If it is during the last week it is usually something to do with the incubation. That may tell you where to look hardest.

If you can find a thermometer you trust, like a medical thermometer that has already been calibrated, check it out to assure the temperature is pretty close to right. That is actually a pretty common problem. Are you putting the eggs in the turner pointy side don, that can make a big difference. From what you describe you really should be doing better. I'll include links to a couple of incubating troubleshooting guides that might help.

Mississippi State Incubation Troubleshooting

http://extension.msstate.edu/content/trouble-shooting-failures-egg-incubation


Illinois Incubation troubleshooting

http://urbanext.illinois.edu/eggs/res24-00.html
Thank you very much for the links and for your help!
They are free ranged and get a lot of their food just from foraging.

I would love to buy a complete feed, the only problem is that I can't afford it right now. I know that would be much better for them to have a complete feed and that is probably where the problem lies.

I guess maybe I will just have to deal with it since I can't buy a complete feed right now.
I am not sure the exact week when the eggs stop developing. It could be a combination of something before incubation starts and something during incubation.

I will get another thermometer and see if that helps. I do put the eggs pointy side down in the egg turner. I candle all the eggs before putting them in the incubator to check for cracks and thin shells. I also let the eggs come to room temperature before I put them in the incubator.

I have been having low hatching rate problems for the last few years and I am starting to think the main problem is that the chickens are not getting a complete feed.

The Black Australorp chickens I am collecting the eggs from are great birds. I got them from a breeder who is one of the best Black Australorp breeders in the U.S. She selects and breeds her birds for egg production, vigor, and high fertility.

I think I am going to start collecting eggs soon, probably within the next week or two and try to incubate another batch of eggs. I will try to keep better track of exactly what is going on, the percentage of fertile eggs, when they stop developing during incubation, ect. Then I can post my progress on here and see how it goes.

Thankyou so much for all your help! It is much appreciated!
 
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