Silkies dead in shell - help?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by gypsysmamie, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. gypsysmamie

    gypsysmamie New Egg

    Dec 6, 2012
    Hi everyone, I get so much information from this forum, I'm hoping y'all will have advice for me.

    I've been incubating some silkie eggs, collected from my own chickens, in a homemade incubator. I set the eggs in egg cartons, tilted, and I turn them by hand 3x a day. The temp fluctuates a bit because it uses a water heater thermostat, but it stays between 97 and 102. About a week before hatch day, my bulb burned out for a couple hours and I replaced it, but everything seemed fine, chicks were alive and kicking.

    Hatch day, nothing happened. Three days later, one of the eggs finally pipped. Chickie was doing great and had unzipped about halfway, then he died. I checked the other two eggs due to hatch that day, and both were also dead in shell. Fully formed, all the way to yolk absorption, but the little guys hadn't even internally pipped.

    So I've got another batch due to hatch tomorrow. I've candled them and at least one of them is still wiggling around in there. Is there anything I can do to help them? Any ideas on what could have gone wrong? Is it common for silkies to require assistance in hatching? The humidity is at around 60%, is it possible that it might be TOO humid? TOO hot? should the temperature be turned down for hatching? is 102 hot enough to kill them?

    One more side question while I have your attention.... When I collect eggs from my hens, can they be placed directly in the incubator, or do they require a certain period of setting at 55-60 before being placed in the incubator?

    Thanks for your help!!!
  2. chickenluver100

    chickenluver100 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 26, 2012
    Here is a chart I found from
    Hope this helps!


    There are many reasons for poor hatches. Breeding, feeding, and management of the egg production flock; care of the eggs before incubation; and the incubation environment: these all can influence the hatch. Possible causes for some of the more common problem symptoms are listed here.
    Symptoms Possible cause

    Eggs candling clear
    No blood rings or embryo growth.
    1. Eggs from a flock having no roosters.
    2. Poor flock management.
    3. Eggs stored below 40° F or which were too old before setting.
    Eggs candling clear
    But showing blood or very small embryos on breaking.
    1. Incubator temperature too high.
    2. Eggs stored below 40 or above 80° F. before setting.
    Dead Embryos
    Before hatching time.
    1. Eggs haven't been turned at least 3 times a day.
    2. Lack of ventilation.
    3. Incubator temperature set too high or too low.
    4. Breeder flock having poor hatchability or fed inadequate ration.
    Eggs pipped but not hatched (Chick pecks hole through shell)
    Chicks dead in shells.

    Sticky chicks
    Shells sticking to chicks.
    1. Low average humidity.
    2. Low average temperature.
    3. Low humidity at hatching time.
    4. Excessive high temperature for short period.
    Hatching too early
    With bloody navels.
    1. Temperature too high.
    Delayed hatch
    Eggs not pipping until 21st day or later.
    1. Temperature too low.
    Draggy hatch
    Some chicks hatch early, but hatch is slow in finishing.
    1. Temperature too high.
    Crippled chicks
    1. Abnormalities in development.
    2. Poor nutrition of hens.
    3. Incubator temperature too high.
    Your problem was probably a mix of temperature and humidity. 99.5 is the perfect temperature but good temperatures are 98.5 -100. Good luck next hatch! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2012
    1 person likes this.
  3. gypsysmamie

    gypsysmamie New Egg

    Dec 6, 2012
    so.... when they say "Excessive high temperature for short period." how excessive does the temperature have to be, and for how long? For example, would 10 minutes at 102 be enough to kill them? I don't know if that's what happened, but theoretically....
  4. mstricer

    mstricer Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 12, 2009
    [​IMG] to BYC glad you joined. One thing I did notice you mention, is there a fan in the incubator?
  5. gypsysmamie

    gypsysmamie New Egg

    Dec 6, 2012
    Yes, there is a fan in the incubator, a little computer fan. Would it maybe be better to turn off the fan for hatch time?
  6. gypsysmamie

    gypsysmamie New Egg

    Dec 6, 2012
    Possible cause
    1. Eggs from a flock having no roosters.

  7. namastemama

    namastemama Chillin' With My Peeps

    The 102 temp would cause a problem for sure, you can't have wildly swinging tips from 97-102 that's really bad.
  8. dolly85

    dolly85 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 1, 2010
    In a still air incubator 102 is fine. In an incubator with circulated air the temperature must be kept closer to 99.5, however, I don't think the temperature being too high was the problem. If it were hot enough to kill the chicks they would have died MUCH earlier on in the incubation process and would have never fully developed. It sounds like more of a humidity problem to me. Are you sure your hygrometer is accurate? The fact that they hadn't been able to pip and the one hadn't been able to zip indicates to me that they were unable to move inside their eggs. Be sure after lock down to NOT open the incubator for any reason and keep that humidity a little higher for this next hatch.

    ETA: The fact that these chicks attempted to hatch 3 days late when banties usually hatch a day early indicates to me the overall temperature was too COOL vs. too warm. And yes, I would not have a fan running during a hatch. It can cause the membranes to dry out even faster. If you decide to turn it off watch the temp CLOSELY as it can spike very suddenly. (Heat rises!)
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2012
  9. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    I've had alot of good hatches with this:

    room temperature eggs.
    3 thermometers set at different areas in the bator level with the top of the eggs. Rotating the eggs to different areas when I turn, for example, outside egg to inside the batch.
    I stay as close to 100 degrees as I can. The closer the better.
    My humidity is about 30% the first 18 days and 65-68% the last 3.
    Eggs should pip closer to the round end, and usually do on the side, usually between the middle and the end of the egg, like at the 1/3 mark.
    Do not use paper egg cartons.
    If you can't see the pip, it may be underneath and the chick can smother.

    With the humidity, there are directions for adjusting it by way of weighing the egg. Like the egg should lose so many % of it's weight by certain days. Sounds like fun to me.

    OR take the easy way out and let a broody silkie hatch the eggs. One time I put half under a broody and the other half in the bator, all hatched. Then I took the hen and put her in with the bator chicks. At first she couldn't understand why the chicks werent coming near her. But after an hour all was fine. Then I added her own chicks. No problems. That was alot of fun, too. It was nice and warm out.
  10. gypsysmamie

    gypsysmamie New Egg

    Dec 6, 2012
    Thanks so much for they help, y'all! This hatch was kindof an impulse decision. I have these 4 wonderful cuddly pet silkies and they started to lay, I figured why not try to hatch them? I've hatched several times in homemade incubators but I'm by no means a professional My last hatch was a couple black copper Maran eggs, and I had one dead in shell that time, too. Same deal, no pip. But my lovely little single chick "Bob" came successfully of it, she's my buddy. I have a science background so I tend to dork out about every detail. I should point out that I live in Louisiana, and we have 70%-100% ambient humidity here, even in the winter. My incubator was so humid that the window was fogged up, for the whole 18 days, and I thought that was normal. I figured more humid was better, but I see that I was wrong, now that I've read the novel on here about Humidity (great stuff). I think the eggs didn't lose enough moisture during the first 18 days. Now that I've learned about air cell development, I realize the air cells are way smaller than they should be. My hygrometer is just a cheap stick-on kind like for reptiles, by no means reliable. But now I know that I can weigh the eggs and track the air cell to ensure proper moisture loss. I also learned about a million other things, you guys are great!

    I'll keep you posted on how this next hatch goes.

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