Very bad hatching rate!


In the Brooder
10 Years
Mar 3, 2009
Hello, I have just finished my second hatch. Out of 9 eggs, I lost four to blood rings, one was clear, and three developed but died during lockdown. Only one little trooper survived. I started this hatch directly afer my first hatch. That one produced two chicks out of 9 eggs. Two were lost to blood rings, one was clear, and four died during lockdown.

So between the two hatches 10 eggs made it to lockdown, but only three hatched. I kept the humidity at 60-70% although my thermostate had a bit of a temp swing. My bator is a homemade cooler bator.

One question. When does lockdown occur? Is it at the end of day 18 or at the beginning? Also if I started lockdown at the beginning (which I did) would this have any significant effects on the chicks?

I have a PC fan blowing full time in the bator. It doesn't generate much air flow, but could it possibly dry the eggs too much?

I'm going to try again, I just want to tweek my bator and my approach before I do so.

Lockdown isnt your problem. If you've had chicks develop to the end and not hatch, either your temperature or humidity is off, and Id bet on humidity. Probably too high. Did you keep your humidity that high for the entire incubation period? Its always best to keep it on the low side, for the first 18 days, and then for the final 3 days. Might want to check your thermometer and hygrometer and make sure they are accurate. I always use 2 of each.
1. Have you calibrated your hygrometer?
2. 70% humidity is waaaay to high IMO. I stay around 50-55 at hatch. If I had to guess, without knowing any other details, I would say this is your problem.

The fan isn't going to cause any problems and should actually help to keep your temps more steady. What is the temp you are running at?
In addition to the humidity being too high (if that was throughout incubation), I would assess your ventilation. How is the fan hooked up? How many holes for air intake and outtake? Since this is a homemade bator, I would bet one of these factors played a factor in the blood rings and the chicks dying at hatch time. Minimal temp fluctuations are ok, but you didn't say how low/high the temp went and for how long. That could be the issue as well. For instance, if the temp hit 105 for a brief period, you could have had some killed instantly and others struggle to keep going and eventually succumbed to developmental issues due to the spike. Just offering an example of what can happen.
I have 6 air holes that were opened the entire time.

I also kept my humidity around 30-40 the first 18 days and then bumped it up for lockdown.

No, I didn't calibrate my hydrometer. It's a little digital thermo/hydrometer.

My temp swing was 100.8 - 97.8. It only stayed at either of those temps for a few minutes. The mercury thermometer wasn't as sensitive and it read 98-99 the whole time.

I do suspect that my hydrometer is off. If it's giving a low reading, the actual humidity may have been above 70 the entire lockdown time.

I live in the arid part of Colorado, so any humidity in the bator has to be artificially provided!
Sounds like you might have fertility issues. You shouldnt be getting all of those blood rings either, especially from home eggs.
Well, I certainly understand your situation. Same here. Homemade cooler incubator with the same kind of hatch rate. I suspected a humidity issue with mine. I am going to calibrate before I try again. I think we'll figure it out with more practice.

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