need help with low hatch rates

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by NiteHawk, Jul 19, 2018.

  1. NiteHawk

    NiteHawk In the Brooder

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    we have a home made incubator made with an old refrigerator, with computerized heater thermostat and egg turners. We have done 2 runs with it and have sat over a 100 eggs, ( think like 125 or there abouts) both times we only got like 25-25 chicks so it IS working, just not well..
    After the first run I put several computer fans in the fridge to help with air flow, and a humidifier on a timer and a decent fan in the bottom of the fridge instead of just a pan of water.
    Both times in last of the second week the temperature jumped up to 101-102 briefly and then dropped down to normal. I talked to the company about it, and they said that the outside temperature could cause the fluctuation. It was hot outside but not that hot.. I was told just because the temperature jumped that high it would not kill the chicks.
    I have thought about putting another computer fan on the mid lever rack to help push the warm air down to the bottom rack better and maybe that would help with hatch rates, but the guy at the company suggested ( they saw the diagram and pictures, and they said that the fridge should work) that adding another fan would cause slightly more heat inside. I questioned that saying, I would think that the computerized thermostat should adjust for the slight temperature difference generated by a small computer fan.
    I expected some no hatchers- as some of the eggs where a bit older, and I found one that I had been given wasn't even fertile, but I don't think my no hatch rate should be THAT low.
    I am going to try and post the diagram of the incubator, Would appreciate any thoughts that might help improve the hatch rate..
    thanks..
    I am having problems uploading the picture, I have a different picture on the web site clipboard and cannot get rid of the old one and upload the new one.. any ideas?.
     

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  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

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    Have you calibrated your thermometer to make sure it is reading correctly? I don't trust any thermometer until it is calibrated.

    I personally think this article goes way overboard but it gives you the basics of storing eggs for hatching and a lot of other tips. I don't have the ideal conditions they talk about and don't follow this to the letter but the closer you can get to the ideal the better your chances. For example, I don't store them at 55 F, mine is room temperature in the 70's. It's the best I can do but I don't store them for over a week either. I still get good hatches.

    Texas A&M Incubation site

    http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/...e-Cartwright-Incubating-and-hatching-eggs.pdf

    Have you opened unhatched eggs to see when they stopped developing? As you can see from these two links there are a lot of possible reasons for an egg to stop at any time but if you open the unhatched eggs, or at least a representative sample, it can give you some pretty strong clues about what may be going wrong. People tend to think only of humidity or temperature but there are several other things that can have an effect. In general if the eggs stop in the first week it was probably something to do with before the eggs went in the incubator. In the last week it was probably something to do with the incubation. But like everything else to do with chickens there can be exceptions.

    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

    Do you noticed any patterns? Are the eggs that hatch mostly in a certain section of the incubator? Do eggs from a certain source hatch better than other sources?

    The way I expect your incubator works is that the heater operates until the thermostat tells it to shut down. Then it cools by losing heat until it cools enough for the thermostat to kick the heater back on. In theory an additional fan motor should not increase the temperature in there, the heater would just kick on less often to account for it. Life does not always follow theory. Is there something abut your thermostat location and a heat source (fan or turner motors or your heater) that is causing the thermostat to cycle too slowly or too quickly?

    Those fans should keep the temperature the same in every part of the incubator, that's what they are for. Have you confirmed that by checking temperature (with a calibrated thermometer) in different sections of the incubator? Are there any dead spots?

    Where are your vents? Early in incubation fresh air is not important, but the more the chick develops the more it needs to breathe oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide. If the chicks are dying late in development that can be a cause, I don't remember it being clearly covered in those troubleshooting guides.

    There could be something wrong with your incubator or it could be something else entirely. That's where opening unhatched eggs could help you narrow it down.

    Good luck!
     
    Yorkshire Coop and Pugsabi like this.
  3. NiteHawk

    NiteHawk In the Brooder

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    The one problem that I am aware of is that some of the eggs are a bit older, so I expected some issues with that, but I am still thinking that I am not getting enough warm air on the bottom rack. This is the second try and I actually got a few eggs on the bottom to hatch this time, where the first go around I had nothing, and I think the difference is that I added several small fans...maybe that helped...
    The air ventilation comes in a small hole in the back..about the size on the tip of my pinkie finger. is that not enough for a fridge incubator?
    I opened up a number of the eggs, and a fair amount never even started to develop at all, so I figured they were not fertile, even though there are 4 roosters in about 30 hens, and they seem to be busy keeping the girls happy. Some were eggs from other people-some hatched, a lot didn't, and those seemed not to developed at all and I know those were fresh..not sure if the rooster wasn't doing his job or what..
    Some died before they could get out of the shell, and some actually got a hole in the shell but couldn't get on out.. seems some died maybe a few days before hatching...
    Just am interested to hear thoughts
    thanks
     
  4. Trinitydraco

    Trinitydraco Songster

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    I know that sterilizing the eggs by spraying a mix of 50% water and 50% flavorless Listerine Really boosts hatch rates. A big killer for eggs and chicks is bacteria and as you can't wash them the spray method really works. I had great results this last hatch with a 70% hatch rate even with MAJOR complications due to power outages and am doing another hatch with the spray right now. My prep method is this: I take all the eggs I am going to set and put them in a dry cool place for 24 hours with the small end down just to settle them regardless of weather they were shipped or not. Then I sterilize my incubator with diluted bleach/water rinse and then let it air dry. Then I spray the eggs with the Listerine spray and put them in the bator. I do not turn the eggs for the first 24-48 hours to further set the air cells. All this helps boost hatch rates right from the start. Of course this doesn't address incubator issues but this method really helps. With good incubator conditions you can expect a 90% or better hatch rate of fertile eggs by properly prepping the eggs. This is just my opinion but I don't think good egg prep gets stressed enough. I also recommend doing a dry incubation for the first 18 days and then crank the humidity as high as you can for lockdown. It helps make sure the air cells are big enough and the high humidity at the end helps them hatch without shrink wrapping. Good luck!
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

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    Did you go through those troubleshooting articles I linked?

    Fertility is not the only thing that causes an egg to not develop. When a fertile egg is laid the embryo is alive. It can die if the egg gets too hot or too cold, either before it goes in the incubator or even after if the incubator is off too much, especially warm. Temperatures cycling from cool to warm to cool and so on can be hard on them. Storing them too long can certainly cause them to not develop. The breeding flock needs a balanced diet, nutrition platys a part. Certain individuals can be infertile, especially if they get too old. Certain diseases can cause an egg to not develop at all. Eggs that are badly shaken during transport may not even start to develop, I've experienced that myself.

    I see a lot of posts on here that say if an egg does not start to develop it is because it was infertile. Not even close to always. A lot of different things can affect that even before it goes in the incubator.

    With the differences in hatching on different shelves it sounds like you might be getting different temperatures in there. Did you mix up he eggs on different shelves from different sources to be sure the source was not the problem? Or take the temperature down there compared to higher up. Warm air rises so it's quite possible it is cooler down there if the fans are not mixing the air inside sufficiently. If the fans are all horizontal you might try pointing some or all of them down on one side and maybe a some a bit left, some right to get a more turbulent air flow. Do you have enough air flow to see hanging ribbons or threads move? Maybe not but might be worth trying when analyzing air flow. When you opened those eggs was there a pattern in which failed to develop at all versus died after development and location?

    I'd be tempted to add another ventilation hole somewhere opposite the one you have so air flow is kind of sucking air in on one and blowing it out on the other to assure a good exchange of air. With a fridge incubator it is not likely to leak in anywhere other than your ventilation holes. Watch your humidity when you do that, a better air exchange can cause it to drop significantly. It probably will not affect temperature, your heater will probably just run longer or cycle on more often but watch that too.

    When bacteria gets inside an egg the bacteria multiplies rapidly at incubation temperatures. The egg soon begins to stink and can ooze a stinky liquid or even explode. You never want to experience that. I've never experienced it in my incubator but I only set relatively clean eggs and I sterilize my incubator after each use. My hand are clean when I handle the eggs. I've never sprayed my eggs with any kind of disinfectant, Iv'e never seen a reason to.
     
    Yorkshire Coop and Trinitydraco like this.
  6. NiteHawk

    NiteHawk In the Brooder

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    May 11, 2018
    I am thinking of putting another computer fan facing down on the mid level to push air further down better than what it is doing currently.
    I am considering doing the Listerine / water mix if that will help..
     

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