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Incubating eggs - How to avoid late stage abortions during incubations

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Hi there, 

I'm in need of some help from any artificial incubating experts out there. I've been incubating fertile eggs with an incubator like this one: https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/A1WlYDdjlrL.pdf

I've incubated four batches of eggs and get some chicks, but I see I'm encountering the same issue every time when I inspect the eggs after enough time has passed and the eggs have failed to hatch. It's quite common for me to find that the chick is more or less fully developed, however it has aborted at some point during the final stages whilst the yolk is being absorbed. I'm thinking to abort at this stage, it would be at around day 19 onwards?

For example, I've just had a batch in which 5 chicks hatched, but there were another five dead in the eggs at the stage described above. It would be great if anyone has any advice on what I can do to stop this happening. It seems a shame to be getting so many chicks grown to this stage only for them not to hatch. The chicks I do hatch are great, but it seems like I could be getting a lot more of them!

I'm incubating at 37.6c and have also incubated at 38, this doesn't seem to yield very different results. I stop turning at day 18 and let the eggs lie until about day 23/4 incase there are any latecomers. I follow the humidity guidance as per the manual above. 


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I’m not sure I’m really qualified to answer - although I have hatched 3 times with an incubator now (Brinsea Mini Advance) my hatch rates haven’t been any better than yours.

That said, I haven’t had fully developed chicks not hatching since my first attempt when it did happen.

From what I’ve read, the most common reason for this is that the humidity is wrong at some point. If the membrane was tight around the chick when you opened the egg, the humidity was too LOW during hatch (the last few days). If that’s not the case, it may be that the humidity was too HIGH during the first 18 days, so the chick a) can be too big and unable to position itself for hatch and b) the air cell is either too small or contains liquid so that I the chick does pip brought the membrane it has no or not enough air to breath before it hatches through the shell.

For my last two hatches I’ve hatched ‘dry’. This means I didn’t add any water to the incubator until lockdown at day 17 or 18 when I added water to increase he humidity to over 50 for hatching. I did have a temp / hygro sensor in the incubator to keep an eye on the humidity to make sure it didn’t drop too low - if it had gone below 30 I would’ve added some water. I also measured the air cells by drawing them on when I candles at days 7, 14 and 18 to try and make sure they were developing properly. Hatching dry I have had approx 30% losses in the first 10 days (eggs though the post so not surprising) but nothing later.

There are other factors than can cause these late stage losses such as improper turning, uneven warming and genetic / breeder health factors.

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As you are getting chicks that far, everything must be right except the initial humidity. If it's too high (and to a large extent that depends on shell porosity) the air sack won't develop properly and the chick will be unable to manoeuvre to pip. My suggestion is to buy a humidity meter and test the incubator. A lot depends on the ambient humidity in the room so you may find you have to run the incubator totally'dry'. You can check air sack development as you go and remove the water if necessary after day 7. Our last hatch was a dozen Wyandotte eggs and despite running the incubator dry we couldn't get the sac to develop properly and lost one just as you describe @martin-j. Problem was either the very low porosity of the eggs or the high humidity in the stone house or both; both out of our control unfortunately.

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Agree with both comments above, it sounds like a humidity issue. The worst thing you can do is open the incubator during the last 3 days of incubation as it will cause massive spikes in humidity, even more so if you add water as it will suddenly drop then spike.

I also dry hatch and don't add any water to my incubators, even for the last 3 days. I tried to hatch some Call Ducks from my own eggs last year and they all got to full term and were dead in shell, so for the second hatch I added water and helped out a lot more than I would with chickens.

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