URGENT - Incubator help!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by BackyardDove, Jun 5, 2016.

  1. BackyardDove

    BackyardDove Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I primarily use broody hens for incubation, so this world of incubating myself is quite complex and odd to me! But, I've tried incubating three times now. The first two times, I only had one chick out of over two dozen eggs hatch. Both hatches had a stable 99.5 temperature, but I had issues with stabilizing humidity. However, I cracked open a few eggs from my previous hatches, and was unable to find any abnormalities or anything that might indicate why it didn't hatch. All the eggs that didn't hatch were fully developed chicks that showed no apparent reason for why it didn't hatch. For this hatch, I made extra sure I did everything right. The incubator was cleaned, sanitized, and properly stored prior to incubation. The eggs weren't cleaned since they were essentially already clean, save for one egg that had some dirt stuck on it. The hens that I got these eggs from shouldn't of been stressed and were fed a proper diet. The temperature and humidity were stabilized a couple days before I began incubating, I placed in seven pheasant eggs first, then waited a full 24 hours before putting in eight booted bantam eggs, due to the pheasant eggs taking a day longer to hatch. I made sure the temperature was at a stable 99.5 throughout the entire hatch, and it was, and the humidity stayed at 34-40% throughout the first 18 days. I've heard others that go higher, but I found with my other hatches that going over 40% doesn't allow the air cell to shrink enough. have an automatic turner, so I didn't have to worry about turning the eggs. I had a separately bought thermometer/hygrometer inside the incubator to make sure everything was correct, and I made sure they were calibrated. I candled them at one week to make sure they were fertile and that their air cells were at a proper size, and they were. I meant to check again on the second week, but unfortunately I lost track of time. On the 18th day, I took out the turner and bumped up the humidity to 63%. Today is day 20, and with the other hatches I had, one egg would start cheeping in the shell by now, and that egg would be the only one who hatched. I hear no cheeping at all.

    From the advice of others, I checked a few of the eggs and found that the air cell was a bit big, but not too big. So I went ahead and added in more water, but am currently waiting for the water to evaporate for the humidity to go up. I candled five eggs, three of them looked like they died at different points in the incubation, one looked to be fully developed but I was unable to find movement, and the last egg I was able to find some movement in. I know there must be at least a few still alive out of the 15 eggs I placed in there. If it's important, my incubator is a Forced Air Incubator Model 4200. Is there anything I can do to save my hatch? What did I do wrong?


    EDIT: Unfortunately, my 15 eggs resulted in only one successful hatch. Two more externally pipped, but failed to hatch. I waited until day 24 before giving up. I started a new hatch on 6/11, this time with a full incubator of 40 eggs! All the eggs are either mine or locally bought. For this hatch, I tried a few new things:
    -Only filtered water will be used
    -Incubator is completely full of eggs, rather than less than half full
    -Air cells marked at Day 1, 7, and 14 to ensure proper weight loss(I've done this before, but opted to simply monitoring air cells periodically in recent hatches)
    -And, perhaps most importantly, I put the eggs in their proper incubation position for day 1-18

    I'm not sure why, but I've been putting the eggs in with their pointy end up and the round/air cell part downwards. It wasn't until I was going through, marking initial air cell size and placing them in the incubator, that I realized the air cell should probably be up rather than downwards. Now, because I did have a chick hatch and two try to hatch, I don't think the positioning is a complete death sentence to a hatch, but it's certainly important. I'll be posting updates every week when I check on the air cells, or more often if I run into difficulties.

    For day 1, everything of course went fairly smoothly, though I had a difficult time establishing an accurate reading at first. I purchased another thermometer and placed it in the incubator, and it said the temperature was 101.3 and my other thermometer I've always used said it was 99 degrees(it doesn't read down to .1). I placed my usual thermometer into the spot the new thermometer was in, and it still read at 99 degrees. So, I removed both thermometer's and placed them in the same spot in the room, and eventually they showed the same temperature reading. I then placed a medical mouth thermometer into the center of the incubator and closed the incubator. I took several temp readings and they all read differently, but did not go below 99.5 and did not go above 100.5. I plan on getting a meat thermometer that is much easier to calibrate than my digital thermometers and placing that in the incubator.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2016
  2. FridayYet

    FridayYet Innocent Bystander

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    Are they shipped eggs or local? Shipped eggs are such a gamble.

    Is your incubator in a draft free place with a stable ambient temperature? Styrofoam bators are notorious for temperature swings from day to night if your room temp changes.

    Are your vents open? Eggs need oxygen.

    Good luck - I hope you hear some chicks soon.
     
  3. BackyardDove

    BackyardDove Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They're my own hen's eggs, I never get shipped. The incubator is in a stable area, and my thermometer actually reads the highs and lows for each day, but showed that the incubator was at 99.5 each and every day. The vents are open and have been open through the entire incubation.

    I heard one chick peeping yesterday, but as it's already day 22 and I see no piping, I'd say this hatch failed..
     
  4. jrose1970

    jrose1970 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi Backyard dove, Hmmm. I've only set about five batches of eggs in the incubator. My record is 25 out of 60. I was going to suggest not giving up until day 24. I've literally had them hatch three days late. I don't know why they don't all hatch at once.
    You are much better than me at controlling the temperature and humidity. :)
    One more thing is I've read on this forum to not handle them with bare hands without washing my hands. I didn't know that. My eggs are always pretty dirty too. I need to have better hay in the nests.
    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2016
  5. Jessimom

    Jessimom Cats Rule Dogs Drool

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    I'm so sorry - I have had the same issues in the past, but have turned things around since then.

    My questions to you are - 1 before you handle the eggs, do you wash your hands with an anti bacterial soap? I've heard there are chemicals in those that can be bad for the eggs.

    How are you adding water during lock down to keep the moisture high enough? I started putting a puppy pee pad under the floor of the 'bator - above the water channels. I add water through some aquarium tubing through a vent hole, so I don't have to open the bator. The pee pads keep the moisture more stable.

    When you put the eggs in for lockdown, do you candle to find the lowest point of the air cell and make that face upwards?

    It sounds like you are doing everything else correctly. For my bantam eggs, I keep the humidity between 65 and 75% for lock down.


    I wish you the very best in your next hatch!!!
     
  6. BackyardDove

    BackyardDove Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh no, I'm not giving up just yet! But I would say it's not likely they'll be hatching. I actually set up my incubator a day before I incubate, so that my temp and humidity will stabilize :) But I still have issues whenever lockdown comes around, since I have to take out my automatic egg turner, it causes the temperature to drop down if I'm not careful. I make sure to wash my hands before handling them during incubation, but I don't wash my hands before I first collect them from the nest, usually because I don't even know if I'll be incubating them at that point. The chicken eggs were clean, but my pheasant wanted to lay her eggs in the dirt this year. Thank you!


    I don't think our soap is antibacterial? I'm not sure, but I do wash my hands before handling them. I use the water channels to for my humidity, but I didn't have an issue with keeping moisture in for this incubation. I also bought some aquarium tubing for that exact purpose, but I can't use it due to my automatic turner. The turner takes up all the room and so I can't reach the bottom on the incubator. I don't do that candling though, mostly because my house is very unlevel and old, so each step I take shakes the eggs a bit and sometimes causes them to roll some. Which would make positioning them in a certain way useless.

    I think there's just something wrong with the incubator. Even if I was doing one thing wrong, I'm still doing all the major stuff correctly, so there's no reason why a healthy, fertile batch of 15 eggs shouldn't hatch at all. I'm not sure what's wrong with the incubator since everything seems to be showing up as working properly, but I don't know what else could be causing none of the eggs to hatch.
     
  7. Jessimom

    Jessimom Cats Rule Dogs Drool

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    I had actually started calling my incubator the "deathbator" it was so bad. I think I hatched 2 eggs out of 40. But I now only use that incubator for hatching. The first 18 days, they spend in a different 'bator, and it's doing great. I rarely add water during the first 18 days, but if I do, I open the incubator to add it.

    It's perfectly ok to open the incubator during the first 18 days. It's between days 11 and 14 I think you shouldn't. But, taking the turner out on day 18, isn't killing the eggs.

    Figure a chicken gets off the nest once, every day!

    I don't know what to say about the floor jiggling the eggs. You'd be surprised what a difference positioning the eggs with the draw down facing up can have on them. I tend to hatch a LOT of eggs each time. (A full incubator works better than a half empty one) The first chicks to hatch invariably play soccer with the later eggs. Also dark eggs - i can't see inside to figure out where the dip is. So, I roll the egg a little to see where it WANTS to settle. The ones that get really kicked around, sometimes hatch, sometimes not.

    Eggs that are face down at hatch can drown the chicks and they really can have trouble hatching. So, it will make a difference, even if you walk by and it causes them to move a little each day.

    I hope you don't give up! You say they are your eggs, so there is no reason to not try again. Make little adjustments each time, and maybe you'll find what works!!!

    Good luck!!!
     
  8. BackyardDove

    BackyardDove Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Why do you use two incubators for one hatch? Why not use the other incubator through hatching too?

    Oh I know, I was just saying that, if there were ANY temperature swings, it would've been from taking out the turner. I generally check my eggs twice, once before they're a week old and again a couple days after they're a week old. After that, I leave them alone, minus preparing for lockdown.I didn't know that about the positioning though, I'll have to keep that in mind for my next incubation. But, still, I don't think I should've lost all 15 eggs just due to positioning.

    They are my eggs, and I will try again, but certainly not with this incubator. I've given it three chances now, and all three have failed, so it's time for a different incubator. I won't be able to get another for a while though since the one I'm wanting is $175, but I do still plan on incubating again at some point!
     
  9. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

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    Not sure what you were going for with that line-being ok during the first 18 days but 11-14 you shouldn't. 11-14 is within the 18 days???

    Opening an incubator with unpipped eggs at anytime is not jeopardizing the eggs. There is a big belief that opening the incubator during hatch poses a great threat- then there are those of us that are hands on and do that too.

    Some people do staggered hatches and use a second bator to hatch out in and some people prefer to use forced air for incubation and still air for hatching. I know I don't like pipped eggs sitting under the fan area in my forced air because it tends to dry out the exposed membranes quicker, but it's not a big enough reason to make me have two bators for one hatch. (I just move my pippers.

    Your incubation methods seem sound. You have checked the therms and your humidity levels are decent and you check air cells, so you're ahead of a lot of people on technique. How do you store your eggs prior to setting and for how long? Have you ever thought about giving hand turning a try if you have the availability??? I started with the turner and switched to hand turning and my rates, which have always been good (minus my very first hatch), got even better after switching to hand turning. Just a thought. BTW, out of curiosity, what kind of bator are you using?
     
  10. BackyardDove

    BackyardDove Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh I see, I didn't think of that! That'd be a good idea for when I get another incubator.

    Thank you :) I've spent quite a few hours researching methods and techniques trying to get everything right, which is why it's so frustrating that I've failed to have a successful hatch. Honestly, I don't store my eggs. I use to store them indoors, have them in an egg carton, have one side of the carton higher than the other and rotate it twice a day, etc. I tried lots of tricks, except storing at a certain temperature since I don't have a fridge that I can use solely for egg storage. I found that my hatch rate with my broody hens using those methods was lower than if I simply left the eggs alone in the nest until they're needed, so I stopped doing all those special precautions. I do this and get almost a 100% hatch rate, every fertile egg under a hen hatches. Now, if the eggs are a week or older, I do store those, but I generally don't use those once they're that old anyways. I don't think I'll do hand turning though. I'm a full time college student, so really the only time I'm able to be home to turn the eggs three times a day is during the summer and winter break. I have a Forced Air Incubator Model 4200 :)
     

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