Very Poor Outcome-Advice, Please?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by emidmag, Aug 11, 2016.

  1. emidmag

    emidmag Hatching

    Aug 11, 2016
    Hello, I'm Emily and I really wish I'd read more here BEFORE I started incubating. I've read a whole lot over the past week, but not enough to save my chicks. There's so much info here that I feel bad starting a new thread. I'm a busy mother of six small children; my time is precious and I've already spent hours reading here. If anyone would be so kind as to read my story and offer advice, I'm very grateful.

    I have a Farm Innovations model 2100 still air incubator. Rhode Island Red chickens. I used eggs from 3 consecutive days and put them all in at once.

    The incubator was in my cellar, which is damp-ish. I chose the cellar because I don't have a/c in my home and it's the the only room with stable temps, and I can't trust my children to leave it alone. I did not add any water when I began my incubation, because the hygrometer on the lid was reading at 60% for the 2 days I had the incubator on and empty. I attribute this to the basement's damp air.

    Temps were 99.5-100 throughout the incubation according to the card thermie that came with the incubator, and a laboratory grade, professionally calibrated mercury thermie that, to be honest, is the only one of the 3 I trusted.

    I started with 26 eggs. I had 7 which failed to develop anything, and 3 that died with a tiny, pinky sized chick in them. On day 19, I had 16 viable eggs left. I stopped turning, and decided to add some water to bring up the humidity of the hatch. Humidity was about 80-90% from days 19 through day 24, with a few dips to 70 or so when I opened it to take out chicks. I also pushed the eggs towards the center when I took chicks out, because I was concerned that lying near the edges by the crack in the lid would make them get too cold. On day 22, I added a warm wet cloth to the incubator when I slipped it open to assist a chick.

    First chick hatched on day 20. I left him in for almost a whole day because I didn't want to put him in the brooder all alone, and was hoping a friend or two would join him. He rolled the eggs all over the place, and finally got so spunky I took him out.

    Two more chicks hatched on day 22. I assisted one by gently spreading the halves of her egg apart after she'd been zipped for 12 hours. Night of day 22, a chick pipped. After over 24 hours with no more movement, I cautiously chipped some more shell off to discover she was dead. She was covered in what appeared to be bloody yolk.

    On the morning of day 24, I held a flashlight up to the eggs' large ends without lifting them to see what was going on because I was a nervous wreck. 3 appeared to have internal pips as I could see breathing. No detectable moving for the others. I left them be. On the night of day 25, I could not see any more movement. I started opening eggs. Every one of the 13 eggs in there was what I understand to be shrink wrapped. The chicks' internal membranes where white and leathery, plastered to their bodies. They were fully formed and seemed otherwise healthy, but...dead.

    So have 3 healthy, adorable, sprightly chicks that my kids love. But I wanted about a dozen. My husband thinks I should sanitize the incubator and try again, with no water the whole time. I'm so sad and demoralized about this, I'm having a hard time mustering the will to try again.

    What do you all think I did wrong? Too high humidity? Opened it too much during hatch? Hygrometer doesn't work and wasn't right? Styrofoam incubators are a waste of time and chicken life? Or...?

    Thank you for reading!
  2. azjustin

    azjustin Chirping

    Apr 1, 2016
    Tucson, AZ
    First of all: [​IMG]


    That's the sticky for incubating & hatching, TONS of good reading and probably will give you the answers you need.

    Personally, I incubate at around 40%(ish) humidity with 99.5F (forced air) and lockdown at 65-70% humidity, which seems to be the norm give or take an opinion or two.

    Styrofoam incubators will teach you how to hatch chicks, but not without heartache. However, master hatching in it and you can probably create life from anything with a shell around it.

    Make sure your tools (thermometer and hygrometer) are in working order and try again!

    Good luck.
  3. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

    Oct 11, 2014
    Gouverneur, NY
    [​IMG] Sorry to hear about your dissapointment. First I will address humidity. Low humidity the first 17 days can cause shrink wrapping from too much moisture loss and high humidity for the first 17 days can cause chicks drowning from too much excess moisture in the egg from not enough moisture loss. Humidity is a tricky thing because different levels work for different people and different eggs. But, the good news is there is a way to check your eggs and monitor moisture loss so that you know if your humidity is right and when and how to adjust. I run dry when I can and prefer my incubation humidity to be about 30% and hatching humidity around 75%. I monitor my air cells for growth to know how and when to adjust. The method I used and understanding humidity can be found:

    Now, because I see one early hatcher and the later hatchers, I would check your incubator for warm/cool spots and I would rotate the eggs through the incubation period so that they aren't sitting in the same place-possible warm or cold spots for the entire incubation. Still air incubators should be mainatined at 101-102 degrees with the temps monitored toward the tops of the eggs. 99.5 is the recommended temps for circulated (force air).

    I an VERY hands on and am in and out of my incubator (LG9200 model) through out the hatch and have no complications, so I don't put a lot of stock in the "DON"T OPEN THE BATOR" way of thinking, but I will save you the lengthy rant on that. [​IMG] As long as your humidity is up and adequate and you don't have constant dry air flowing across exposed membranes, opening the bator hold a very low risk of compromise.

    Now, if you are depending on the bator's hygrometer for accuracy and it's never been checked- don't. Make sure that you have an independant checked hygrometer in there or at least verify the bator's with a checked hygrometer. If you are truely seeing shrink wrapping it doesn't jive with the humidity % you are stating. 60% humidity the first 17 days has a high probability of not enough moisture loss, not too much, so I'd start with checking the hygrometer. While I don't worry about humdity being too high for hatching, I would aim more for 70-75% to begin hatch with rather than 80%+ because once they start hatching the humidity raises and you really don't want to see condensation in the incubator/on the windows.

    Are you using an automatic turner or hand turning?
    Are you opening the vents for hatch?

    As for styrofoam incubators, they can work. I use an older model Little Giant 9200 with the fan attached and I have very good hatches 80-100%. They are more work, more monitoring, but once you find what works they can turn out good hatches. Farm Innovators and the digital Little GIants are bottom line bators and you can't trust the gages on them. However, if you can keep a fairly steady temp and are making sure your humidity is working for your eggs, I believe that you can incubate in just about anything.

    I hope his helps some. If you need further assistance you are welcome to join us at:
  4. emidmag

    emidmag Hatching

    Aug 11, 2016
    Thank you both very much for your time and advice. I found a lot more info in the threads you linked to. Starting out again tomorrow!

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