OK, need some advice, eggtopsies done

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by chasing ducks, Jul 24, 2010.

  1. chasing ducks

    chasing ducks Songster

    Mar 30, 2010
    New Hampshire
    I had chicken, quail and ducks all in the incubator set to hatch Thursday. The lone chicken egg hatched Tuesday morning. We had 8 cortunix quail hatch Friday night. The duck egg rocked like crazy for awhile Wednesday but nothing since. I took the duck egg today (after seeing no movement) and a quail egg that had pipped (you could see the beak sticking out of the egg but it had stopped breathing) and opened them up. The duck I believe died several days ago, it was shrink wrapped and the yolk hadn't been absorbed much into the body. The quail however I have no idea what happened. It was perfectly formed and had pecked through the inner membrane and the shell and then just died. Now, the chick and most of the quail had no issues popping right out of their shells, any ideas why the duck got shrink wrapped and what might have happened to the quail? I kept the humidity around 35% during incubation and then up to 55% for the lockdown, the temp was 99.5. I did notice that the membrane on the quail was very hard to rip through. Oh, if it makes a difference, all the eggs were set on their sides and hand turned.

    *I know I probably should have waited a bit longer but after 12 hours with no movement in any of the remaining eggs I figured it was safe to check those two out. I am insatiably curious and want to learn all I can.
  2. Kedreeva

    Kedreeva Longfeather Lane

    Jun 10, 2010
    The eggtopsy thread is located here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=363717

    for what happened, with the duck it's very clear- they need a humidity of at least 60-70% during incubation and about 85-90% during hatch. So your humidity level claimed that life. I can't afford you much information about the quail, but it's possible they need different conditions than chickens as well. Incubating different birds at the same conditions is not the best idea in the future.
  3. chasing ducks

    chasing ducks Songster

    Mar 30, 2010
    New Hampshire
    Well, opinions do vary on humidity levels, as I have never hatched before I can only go by what others who have hatched ducks eggs said they did, I was told a higher humidity would cause them to drown before pipping. Trial and error I suppose. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2010
  4. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    I incubate duck eggs at 15-25% humidity for the first 25 days and have 90+% hatches regularly. Ducks *do* have a harder time breaking through the tough shell, though, and it's possible that the humidity during the hatch was a problem. I usually run hatching humidity around 70-80%.

    However, if it only rocked for one day, I'm guessing that wasn't the problem either. Ducks that are trapped inside the shell with no other problems can and usually do live for three to four days easily from when they start rocking.

    Do you know what your air cells looked like right before lockdown? A small air cell will make it difficult for the duck to hatch because it gets its nose in there to breathe, and then can't keep it up high enough out of the membrane, and ends up drowning. That would easily cause an egg to rock for a while and then die. In fact, it's likely it would rock *vigorously* because it would be working so hard to keep its nose up.

    It's really hard to say what happened though, and it really is a trial and error thing at first. Did you only have the one duck egg? Sometimes, they just aren't able to hatch and there's no *reason* for it, they just don't--could be genetics, could be luck of the draw, disease, bacteria, all kinds of things. Once the duck dies, the membrane naturally dries out very quickly so a dried-out membrane doesn't necessarily mean the humidity caused the problem.

    I regularly incubate duck and quail together and have no problems. My quail usually hatch out at 95-100% of fertile eggs (slightly lower if you include infertiles) in the same incubator with duck eggs hatching at 80-95%. I try not to have them hatching at exactly the same time because I worry about the big ducks crushing the tiny quail, but my incubation and hatching procedures for both are exactly the same. So I don't think you made a big mistake or anything. Don't blame yourself--even experienced hatchers sometimes have a poor hatch, and it's just one of those things.

    Wish I could tell you what caused it, but it's good that you're investigating. Over time, you'll get a strong feel for what works and what doesn't and how to read your eggtopsy. The only tip I would offer is that I always pay close attention to the size of my air cell because I have found this to be a huge indicator of hatch success. Well-sized air cells generally make all the difference. And by paying attention to the air cell, I can judge whether my humidity is high or low enough. For me, in the humid SE at sea level, a super low humidity is right. For someone in different circumstances, a different humidity is right. But you won't learn what's right for you unless you're monitoring your air cells.

    Good luck, and I'm sorry for the loss. Glad you have chicks and quail, though. Nothing is cuter than baby quail!!

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