Top reasons for late-term embryo death?

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In the Brooder
11 Years
Dec 13, 2008

Last time I incubated eggs I had a terrible problem with hatch rates- Out of 28 eggs, 12 hatched. The ones that hatched (8 males and 4 females! That would be my luck!) were healthy, but after waiting a week after the scheduled hatch I opened up the other eggs to try to see if they were never fertile or what. (I'm terrible at candling, and these are brown ones to boot, so I don't put much reliability on it to tell fertility in eggs.) Most of the eggs were fertile and the chicks were just about full term, usually with the yolk sac and such not sucked up yet but otherwise fully developed. The temperature was kept as it should and I'm pretty sure the humidity was decent as well, although it might have been too dry in hindsight.

Now I'm hatching out about 26 eggs. I'm sure they are fertile, because I dropped one about 8 days in and the embryo was doing well (It was actually pretty sad, because you could see the little heart beating but I had no clue how I would keep it healthy and growing with the membrane already broken) but they should start pipping soon and I'm worried about a repeat of last year. I disinfected and dried the incubator completely between hatches, and have been keeping the humidity and temperature up. I was turning them pretty consistently, except that I misjudged the hatch date and stopped turning them two days or so before I should. I'm hoping they are far enough along that this won't hurt it too badly, but I'm still worried about a repeat of last time.

So. What are the main causes of late-term death? Assuming my timing error doesn't kill all of the chicks, if I have a repeat of last year what could it be?
Bad thermometers and/or hygrometer readings. CALIBRATE BEFORE USE. that's about the number one issue other than temp spikes, power failures, bumping bators, and such things that can't be helped sometimes. The theromoeters that come with most bators are garbage to start with. Get a good thermometer hygrometer, that's the best tool.

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