troubleshooting help requested - 2nd hatch attempt for Indian Runners (first 100% mortality!)


In the Brooder
7 Years
May 18, 2012
This is my first post, and I am new to BYC - so sorry if this is a redundant question.
I just incubated several eggs in an older model Hova Bator as a homeschooling experiment
with my kids. We got runner duck eggs from a friend - the eggs were a few days old when we got them and kept cool until
we put them into the incubator. The incubator settings were adjusted a few days before we began to make sure there
were no temp spikes. The initial temp. (for the first 26 days) was 99.5 F. I used a very good humidigraph (husband is a woodworker, so he let us borrow his shop humidigraph) - humidity was only at 75%. I couldn't figure out how to increase it to 86% - (isn't that the recommended %?) so we just went for it.
The eggs developed well - candling every few days, good development and movement.
Temp was consistent, humidity was consistent, turned 3 to 7 times each day. We sprayed with a fine mister once or twice a day.

At day 26 we lowered the temp to 98.5 F, and I added 5 new (rinsed out) sponges to increase the humidity. It went up to 85%.
We stopped misting, candled daily, but didn't allow the incubator to remain open for longer that a few seconds each time we retrieved an egg. Day 29, no internal pipping, incubator stunk in the morning, and we had lost a baby. We cracked the egg open
and it was perfectly developed - no idea what had happened. Day 30, one baby had pipped internally, but no external pipping.
the night of the 31st day we filed the egg at the air pocket and poked a hole. We could see the baby with the internal pip moving,
but by am it was still in the same place. Each baby was active in the she;ll at this point. I read that day 32 was the end, so I decided to open the shell and the membrane.
The babies were still alive, the one who'd pipped internally was peeping and moving a tiny bit - but not a lot. I freed the bills of the others from the membranes - careful not to nick any veins. they were breathing, but not moving much at all.
the one who had a bit more vigor, i slipped from the membrane, so it was just attached to the egg sack and shell by it's belly.
the egg sack was still fairly large, about 1 1/8th inch diameter. The duckling was very wet in the incubator, and I was trying to moisten the egg sack without wetting it's body, but got worried about ti's body temp. and moved it under a heat lamp. The other babied had died in the meantime, and the bid guy died a few minutes after the move to the dryer environment.
This was very very emotionally stressful, and I am not wanting a repeat to this experience. My kids want to try again so we have some new eggs we ordered from Metzer's. The shells of the last batch were SUPER hard, and difficult to crack even for us after the
babies were dead.
Do any of you have suggestions for this next round? Was our humidity too low? I assumed that because the ducklings were developing that they were ok - making it to the end and not getting out of the shell was not in my mind as a possibility!
Thanks for any advice!

Iain Utah

10 Years
Dec 17, 2011
Does your incubator have fan? If it does not, your temp needs to be 2 degrees higher.

Is you humidity gauge measuring relative humidity or actual? Most gauges are relative, which means you need to incubate between 45-50% humidity, then raise it to 75% at lockdown. Only turn 3x times per day.... unless it is an auto turner.

Since your new eggs will be shipped, let them set for 24 hours with fat end upright (just like store bought chicken eggs). Then when you set them in incubator, do not turn for the 1st 24 hours. Then begin 3x turning. Only mist once a day starting on day 7.

The other key is candling. Candle before setting to check whether aircells are intact. If aircells are not intact, then incubate eggs upright instead of laying on sides. Candle on day 7 for spiders.

Best of luck!!


In the Brooder
7 Years
May 18, 2012
Thank you, Iain! It is very kind of you to reply to a question that appears to be asked over and over and over.... again!

BUT. A few more questions if you don't mind?

No fan in the incubator. So really? 101.5???

Does one continue to mist during hatch?
Also, I am confused by the term "lockdown" in regards to the hatching phase. I have read conflicting
posts about this stage - that it is ok to candle until chicks are pipped and out - and others say not to open the incubator at all during this
period. ?
and then there is the wide range of temp/humidity levels - (I guess they are sort of in alignment with yours)
here are a few:
Heres what I did with mine:
Temp: 98.5 (99 on lockdown)
Humidity: 60% (75% on lockdown)
I use a turner, never had luck hand turning, but when I did I hand turned 3 times a day. (stop on day 25)
candled on day 7 and then every three days till day 25 (lockdown)
Sprayed twice a day


she goes up in temp during hatch?? with success!
and this:

Now with that said, humidity once they internally pip the membrane should be raised as high as possible with a goal of getting to 70%. During incubation try to keep it at 30% or there abouts. This will greatly aid the hatching experience.

Temp is the same as for chickens..but yes humidity is higher..55- 60% for 25 days- then 80 % for lockdown.

also, with the still air incubator - should the hatch phase do I just drop the temp. by 1 degree?

Reading Pete in England's piece about assisted hatches, I am getting the picture that I probably didn't give my guys enough time
. I feel so sad that they might have made it if I'd been more informed.

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