Why are my chicks dying on day 20 before pipping?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by kchristie77, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. kchristie77

    kchristie77 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 31, 2011
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    OK, so I've had 3 hatches so far in my Hovabator 1588s. First hatch was 12/13 from my own silkie hen's eggs. 2nd hatch was 4/10 also from my silkie hen's eggs, but this time they incubated in one incubator with a bunch of other shipped, larger brown eggs of various breeds. The larger eggs were behind them by a week and 2 weeks. Those 6 eggs that didn't hatch were alive at lockdown and then never externally pipped. The third hatch started today on 6 shipped eggs. 3 I could tell were doing well and full term, the others were too dark (marans) to see too well. This morning (day 20) 3 were wiggling and I could hear peeping. By this afternoon one little blue birchen marans had hatched out, but every other egg was quiet again. I know that the live ones died at one point, but how? I opened one I was sure was dead, it was, and it was fully formed and I couldn't see that it had pipped internally. Is that something one can see? And why did this happen on the last 2 hatches when my first hatch was perfect?

    I have been trying to keep my humidity around 40 throughout incubation, it was hard to keep it steady once all the shipped eggs were in incubator with my silkie eggs, but it never went too high and often went pretty low. I just can't understand why they developed so well and then I lost them at hatch day. Even the shipped eggs developed well and I lost them on hatch day:(

    I figure it is something I was doing wrong with my humidity? something having to do with the various sizes of the eggs and the staggered hatches? But that is why I got the 2nd hovabator, so I could have one for hatching and one for incubating.

    Does anyone have any advice? I feel so horrible that the chicks all made it to hatch day then died:(
     
  2. CCourson05

    CCourson05 Popping like kettle corn...

    Jan 5, 2011
    Hickory Flat, MS
    If they never internally pipped, it does sound like drowning caused by too high humidity. But I can't be sure... It sounds like your humidity was fine throughout incubation... So I have no idea...
     
  3. LegginMF12

    LegginMF12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    On day 18, you need to increase the humidity. This prevents the membranes around the chick from drying out and "shrink wrapping" the chick. When the membranes dry out and shrink up, the chick can't position itself into the correct position to do the whole pip and zip process because the dried out membranes are effectively immobilizing it.
     
  4. kchristie77

    kchristie77 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 31, 2011
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    Thanks for the replies! I am at a loss! My lonely blue birchen marans now goes all around the house with me because he's very stressed being alone. I know its silly but I feel bad for him!


    I increased the humidity on day 18 and transferred the eggs to a hatching bator. Same style bator. I had similar results with the silkie eggs and the shipped eggs. Lots of good development but dying before pip.

    Does incubating banty eggs and large eggs at the same time/but different stages (e.g. started silkie eggs, then added marans eggs on day 7 of silkies, and added even more LF eggs on day 14 of silkie eggs) cause problems....

    But still I would have had really good hatches even on the shipped eggs if they didn't die on day 20. ARRRRGH. Its the same statistics as my own bad hatch of silkie eggs so I am defintely blaming it on myself and NOT the shipped eggs.
     
  5. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    Have you calibrated your hygrometer. Your hygrometer may be off.
     
  6. flgardengirl

    flgardengirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sunny side up :)
    Quote:x2 this was my first thought as well. It is amazing how my dumb hygrometer can be different every time I use it grrr. I always calibrate it now.
     
  7. kchristie77

    kchristie77 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 31, 2011
    New Jersey
    I'm going to need to calibrate it. The first hatch went so perfectly, I began to believe my hydrometer. But during this hatch I would put water in, the humidity would jump to 50 ish, I would have to tilt the lid up till it went down to 40, then a day later I would wake up it would be at 10.

    But still it was never super high until lockdown....but maybe its too much.

    I did have to add more water to the bator than the instructions called for, and more often. So maybe the hydrometer is wrong after all.

    Out of 4 that full developed 1 hatched, 3 died on hatch day without externally pipping. Out of those 3, 2 were perfectly formed, and 1 had external intestines still exposed.


    I have 2 silkie hens with their newborn chicks outside. I couldn't help but notice how fluffy their chicks are and mine have been taking days to dry off and be fluffy even once I remove them to the brooder!

    Any thoughts?
     
  8. BigDaddy'sGurl

    BigDaddy'sGurl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 14, 2010
    Wilkesboro NC
    See, my idea is that your humidity was too low, therefore the chicks couldn't turn the way they needed to to pip. Your humidity does not sound like it was too high, as you said that days 1-18 it never got higher than the 50s. I've had this problem, when I used dry incubation and my humidity got to 16 % and I had a lot of dead in shell babies. Try keeping your humidity around 35-40...

    What I found that works for me is to just fill one of the little water wells in the bator and keep just that one filled through day 18 then fill them all for lockdown. Much better results.
     
  9. kchristie77

    kchristie77 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 31, 2011
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    I'm more confused than ever.

    I did eggtopsies...and honestly I cant tell if they drowned or shrink wrapped.

    Sigh....I guess I am too much of a newbie for staggered hatches.
     
  10. kchristie77

    kchristie77 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 31, 2011
    New Jersey
    Wouldn't they struggle for longer if they couldn't turn to pip? It seemed like they went from lively to dead in a matter of a couple hours

    What actually happened is they were ALL wiggling at the same time on hatch day...and one hatched and all 3 clearly died, pretty quickly.

    Is it an indication of excess moisture if the chicks take a long time to dry?
     

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