Why don't pipped eggs hatch?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Three Cedars Silkies, Jul 4, 2010.

  1. Since this issue seems to plague many of us and is just so disheartening, I have been searching for possible answers. At this point, I believe that I have determined the issue to be not enough ventilation. I have an Rcom Suro King and there is only one ventilation hole at the top and 4 very tiny ones in the bottom corners. I intend to change that today! At minimum, I am going to drill the 4 small bottom ones to make larger holes and will probably also drill 4 more on the top half somewhere. I know it can be difficult for some folks in dry climates to keep the humidity up, but if you sacrifice ventilation for humidity, you'll still have dead chicks. Also, wrapping incubators up in blankets during a power outage can cause the oxygen level to drop inside the incubator leading to embryonic death.

    I have gathered information from various professional sources and some of the answers are below:

    Mississipi State University

    Pipped eggs that do not hatch

    If chick embryos develop to the pipping stage, or at first shell cracking at hatching, they are normally healthy enough to hatch unless some incubator adjustment prevents it from happening. The problem is usually caused by either 1) poor ventilation or 2) improper humidity.

    The air exchange requirement within an incubator is greatest during the last day of incubation. The chick embryo's oxygen requirement continually increases during development and especially when breathing using the respiratory system just before hatching. The vent openings are frequently restricted at this time in an attempt to boost incubator humidity. Instead of helping the chick hatch, the chick is suffocated from lack of ventilation. Never decrease ventilation openings at hatching in an attempt to increase humidity. Increase humidity by other methods. If any vent adjustments are made, they should be opened more.

    Another reason for mortality during hatching is improper humidity adjustment. The deaths can be produced from too much humidity during the entire incubation period or from too little humidity during the hatching period.

    The desired egg weight loss during incubation caused by water evaporation is about 12 percent. If humidity during incubation is kept too high, adequate water evaporation from the egg is prevented. The chick can drown in the water remaining in the shell at hatching. A dried coating around the chick's nostrils and beak indicates that drowning was likely. Attention to maintaining proper incubation humidity during incubation will reduce the potential for this problem at hatching time.

    If the humidity is allowed to decrease after the chick pips the shell, the membranes within the shell can dry-out and stick to the chick. This prevents the chick from turning inside the shell and stops the hatching process. The chick eventually dies. If the membranes around the shell opening appear dried and shrunken, the cause is probably low humidity during hatching. This condition can occur quickly (within 1 or 2 minutes) when the incubator is opened to remove or assist other chicks that are hatching. When hatching begins and proper incubator conditions are attained, the incubator should never be opened until after all chicks are hatched and ready for placement in the brooder.

    University of Illinois Champagne

    The head of the chick develops at the large end of the egg. Between the 15th and 16th days, the chick orients itself so that its head is near the air cell at the large end of the egg. Not long before the chick is ready to attempt to make its way out of the shell its neck acquires a double bend so that its beak is under its right wing and pointed toward the air cell. About the 19th day the chick thrusts its head forward. Its beak quickly breaks through the inner shell membrane, and the chick's lungs begin to function. Complete breathing by the lungs usually does not occur until the 20th day of incubation.
    Using its egg tooth (a tiny, sharp, horny projection on the end of its beak), the chick pecks at the shell thousands of times. Finally, the young bird pips its way through the shell and begins to breathe air directly from the outside. After the chick has made a hole in the shell, it stops pipping for three to eight hours and rests. During this time, it is acclimating its lungs to the outside atmosphere. After the resting stage is completed, the second stage of pipping begins.
    The chick begins to turn slowly inside the egg. As it turns, usually counter-clockwise, the cutting edge of the chick tooth continues to chip away. In two to five hours, the chick has made about three quarters of a turn inside the egg. As the chick progresses in its movement around the shell, it begins pushing on the egg cap (large end). Squirming and struggling, the chick works feverishly for about 40 minutes pushing at the cap. Finally with a vigorous shove, the chick breaks free from the shell, still wet and panting.

    Proper ventilation is very important during the incubation process. While the embryo is developing, oxygen enters the egg through the shell, and carbon dioxide escapes in the same manner. As the chicks begin to hatch, it is essential that they receive an increasing supply of oxygen. This means that the air openings need to be opened gradually to increase the flow of air.

    Small Farm Permaculture
    Ventilation Requirements for Hatching Chickens

    Embryos inside incubating eggs need oxygen which they get via their shell from the air around them. For this reason, it is important to ensure adequate ventilation by maintaining the patency of the ventilation holes in your incubator.
    As they develop, the amount of oxygen needed increases. In larger incubators, this is the time to gradually open the adjustable vents till they are set on fully open by hatching time.

    However, at pipping time higher humidity is also needed which is hard to achieve if air flow is too high. Thus a balance between the two must be aimed for.

  2. Bat Cave Silkies

    Bat Cave Silkies Songster

    Feb 11, 2010
    Bat Cave, NC
    What wonderful information!!! Thank you
    It's heart breaking to incubate properly for 21 days, have the chicks pip, and never hatch. It's so frustrating!! At least now, I know what I may be doing wrong~~and more of my pips may make it to fully hatching.
  3. aprophet

    aprophet Songster

    Jan 12, 2010
    chesapeake Va.
    just the last 2 hatches I have been turning the fan off the last 2-3 days I am noticing less shrink wrapping I am hatching almost all quail I just had 6 of 6 gambles the last coupla coturnix hatches I have done 18 out of 20 and 16 out of 20 hatch I just hatched a few silkies for a niece of mine I wish I would have tried it with the chickens I just learned of it recently
  4. perolane

    perolane Songster

    Jun 20, 2010
    This is very informative info....thank you for taking the time to post this!!!!

    I figured out (too late) that lack of ventilation was one of the main contributors to my last terrible hatch.....but by adding additional air holes, the temp went up & I couldn't stabilize . Anyone else encounter this problem? I would very much be interested in how others balance enough ventilation with proper humidity levels.

    Happy 4th everyone!
  5. Danny39

    Danny39 Songster

    Jan 24, 2010
    Thank you for sharing this information with us. I have a forced air incubator and have always kept the vent plugs in place throughout the entire incubation process. Sometimes I have excellent hatches and other times not so much. I always just assumed it was humidity related and I have noticed the more eggs in there the better hatch rate I have usually. I will definitely try opening the vent plugs on my next hatch. Which if I can resist, won't be until next Spring! I had my final chicks for this year hatch over night. Incubator will be turned off, sterilized and put away by Monday! I say that now! Sounds good anyway. LOL

    Happy 4th, enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone!
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2010
  6. aprophet

    aprophet Songster

    Jan 12, 2010
    chesapeake Va.
    Quote:most of the hatch I run the hova bator with one of the plugs out during lockdown I take both plugs out . on my homemade bators I have the vents wide open all hatch long and during lockdown 2 things though 1. I live on the coast it has been dry here the last week or so kina unusual we normally have 60%++ R.H. AND Number 2 is my water pan is the same size as the bottom of my bator I change humidity levels by adding or taking out sponges, most of the hatch I do not have any sponges in at lockdown I add 1 or 2
  7. sonew123

    sonew123 Poultry Snuggie

    Mar 16, 2009
    onchiota NY

    that was a great read! Thank you so much for all your research on it! I kinda knew the answer to it but not into so much detail. I think this is why I am working on broodiness in my girls too-they have been amazing incubators-far better than a bator-I wish I could keep 6 broody hens in my house in December! haha-

  8. I have always wondered why I had better hatches in my homemade "Miss Prissy" bator and now I think I know. I had eight 1/2" holes drilled all around, top and bottom for ventilation. I wrongly assumed that by buying a nice incubator everything would be perfect...and in some ways it is better for sure. But it is obvious that there is not enough ventilation for an incubator full of pipped and hatched eggs. Who knows, maybe this is one of the causes of quitters during incubation as well.
  9. Debbi

    Debbi Crowing

    May 2, 2010
    Well, I may not have enough experience to speak here, but I'm going to any way. This last week was my very first hatch. Little Giant, forced air, with a turner. What I found was the ventilation was extremely important, and that a humidity level of 70% in lockdown resulted in easier hatching. Now mind you, this was with just 12 eggs. Only 5 came close to hatching, one died in the zip process (about 1/4 of the way), when the humidity dropped suddenly overnight, within a 5 hour period to 55%. So, 4 eggs hatched and are thriving. One I had to help when the humidity went to 55%, but I only helped because it was 3/4 of the way zipped. The drop in humidity made the membrane like the texture of a dried up Latex glove! The chick was screaming, and had worked so hard to that point that I just could not ignore it. The other that did die in the drop, was only 1/4 of the way zipped. The other two that did hatch, hatched at 60% humidity, and it was a very slow process. Two were born on the 30th of June, and two more on the 1st of July. I was here the whole time for the hatches, and monitered the incubator closely. I also manually vented the incubator at least 5 or 6 times a day, meaning that I took out at least one of the red plugs to let in fresh air. I do believe, had I not been here to do that, and to be able to raise the humidity, they would've all died. Of course, when the first egg hatched, there was an immediate spike in humidity (up to 80%), that I manually adjusted as well with the red plugs. If you are not an at home type of person, then I would not recommend this incubator! Unless it is modified by means of insulation and some way to automatically adjust the humidity, it is not for folks who can't be there to watch it, closely! Ventilation and humidity in the lockdown phase, especially, is very important! As I said, I am by no means even qualified to report this with such limited experience, but this is what I garnered from the first trip into incubation. Hope this helps someone...
  10. Redcatcher

    Redcatcher Songster

    May 7, 2010
    At My Desk!
    I have discovered that the main reason why my pipped eggs do not hatch is due to temperature variations within the incubator. I have a forced air incubator with excellent ventilation. So much so that it draws in cool air from the vents and around those areas there is a drop in temperature of about 2*. Enough to delay development of eggs in those spots. At 20-21 days, these eggs are going to pip whether they are ready or not. The chicks are premature and too weak to break through the shells and they die. The cooler the outside temperature, the more there will be a temperature variation. So, large and multiple vent holes are not necessarily a good thing. I recommend taking spot temperature readings around any new or newly opened vents.

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