Weak chicks not making it...

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by teafreak35, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. teafreak35

    teafreak35 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 9, 2012
    I started about 20 of our home laid eggs from Americana and Americana/Cinnamon Queen Hybrid in the incubator back in January. Last year, I hatched out two good clutches from these same hens. This year, we went through the whole incubation period, candled at 7 days and showed fertilization in most of the eggs, checked them again at 14 days and showed growth.

    I have meticulously monitored the incubator temperature at exactly 99.5 degrees and kept water in the incubator to provide proper humidity. About two weeks ago was when our chicks should have all hatched out. By day 25, we only had two chicks that had hatched and both seemed very weak. I actually had to help them out of their eggs after they tried for more than 24 hours, but didn't make much headway. The rest of the eggs never hatched. Finally after 30 days, I decided they weren't going to hatch so I took them out and inspected all of them. Just as my candling had suggested, most contained what appeared to be full grown chicks...all dead in the eggs!

    The only thing different that I did this year versus last year is the addition of an automatic egg turner. Last year I turned my eggs by hand twice a day and almost ALL of my eggs hatched out with good strong chicks who are now good layers...unless they were cockerels...they made good dinners.

    Back to the two chicks that actually hatched this time around. I left them in the incubator until dry just like I normally do and then moved them into a brood box which I kept at 100 degrees with a heat lamp. There was also plenty of room in the box to move out of the heat if they wanted. I supplied them with water and chick starter/grower. The first chick lived a few days in the brood box and seemed to be doing fine until one afternoon when we came in and found him lying on his back dead. The 2nd chick lived for almost a week. His legs were good and strong and he seemed very active up until yesterday. He seemed to start slowing down and sleeping a lot. He was drinking water, but it doesn't appear that he's eaten hardly anything. He just died a few minutes ago.

    I'm feeling pretty clueless right now. I've hatched out quite a few clutches of eggs at this point and have never had a whole incubator full die without good reason. My only suspicion is that, perhaps, I tried to incubate too early in the year. Also, there has been a pretty severe cold virus going around our home for the past few weeks. Could that have, somehow, been transferred to the eggs or the chicks?

    I'm looking for any answers or opinions or experience you all could provide. I've got another clutch in the incubator now and don't want the same thing to happen again. Help!
  2. gander007

    gander007 Chicken Obsessed

    Did you clean out the incubator before and after use this is important
    more so then some people think .........

    Sometimes things like that happen I know it is really difficult for me
    to hatch egg's I get from e bay but yet I get them out of my yard and
    bang a 90% or better hatch and other times nothing just like as if I
    got them from e bay just the way it goes but anything can go wrong
    drafts make a difference also wide temperature swings in the room
    the incubator is in and it may sound funny I have hatched in the
    summer when it is over 125 in the shade outside and when it is
    winter when it is cold outside in the low single digest's and in both
    extremes I put a blanket over the incubator but I have been using
    the same old G.Q.F. incubator I bought in 1997 because I was
    under the impression I needed to upgrade but it still works ......

    But as to your problem yes I have gotten results as you are
    describing just the luck of the draw it is more the egg's I would
    like to think when it happens then me or the equipment but a good
    washing of your hatching and brooder tool's should be finished off
    with vinegar and let dry real good as bacteria will wipe you out .....

    gander007 [​IMG]
  3. red horse ranch

    red horse ranch Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 24, 2014
    Buffalo Wyoming
    I usually have quite a few unhatched chicks in my winter hatches. I think the breeders aren't in the best of health or most fertile at this time of year. I started giving all my chickens vitamins in their drinking water and extra protein in November and it seemed like I had fewer dead chicks this season.
    Are the eggs you were incubating clean? I hatched one from an egg that wasn't completely clean. It didn't have any interest in food or water and died at 9 days.The bacteria can easily get into their egg as it gets more porous before hatching.
    Have you heard any gear grinding noise from the turner? This can disrupt the formation of their nerves and they will fail to hatch. Otherwise the turner should have helped.
    Birds can easily get virus' from humans. Make sure your hands are clean before handling the eggs.

    Hope your next hatch turns out much better![​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2014
  4. crazyhatch

    crazyhatch Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 19, 2013
    I think red horse ranch hit the nail on the head. When you are wanting eggs for hatching it is best to mske sure roosters and hens alike are in tip top health. Extra protiens and vitamins are passed through to the embryo which is not noticed when your eating them. However has proven to me over time to improve hatch % and health of new chicks. After mine are put in brooder i also incorporate merricks electolytes in chicks water as it has microbials(probiotics) for a healthy start

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