The My Pet Chicken Guide to Incubation & Hatching

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Table of Contents >> Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Hatch day

Remember--if your eggs have not hatched by Day 21, don't give up! It is possible that despite all your precautions, your eggs were incubated at a temperature that was slightly low... or perhaps your newer eggs hatched first, and your older ones will take a little longer. Wait until Day 23 at the very least, and candle before discarding any eggs that haven't hatched just to make sure it is not alive.

When your babies have hatched, leave them in the incubator to dry off. Their peeping and noise will help encourage other chicks to hatch. It can take four hours or more to dry off, and you don't want them to get chilled. Once they are dry, transfer them quickly to your prewarmed brooder. Caring for baby chicks is discussed in Chapter Four of our free chicken care e-book.

The Dreaded Bad Hatch
It happens to everyone who hatches eggs at one time or another. You had beautiful fertile eggs, everything seemed to be just fine, but when hatch day comes, the eggs just don't hatch. It is devastating! When this happens, it's important to find out why. You will want to open the eggs (outside, in case there is an odor) to see if they developed and how far along they got before stopping.

Early hatching Temperatures too high, shipping problems (eggs too hot during shipping)
Late hatching Temperature too low, shipping problems (eggs too cold during shipping)
Fully developed, pipped, died Humidity too low, poor ventilation, eggs set upside down (large end should be up)
Fully developed, no pip, died Humidity too high, poor ventilation, eggs did not rest large end up before setting
Open navels or bleeding Temperatures too high, shipping problems (eggs too hot during shipping)
Staggered hatch Hot and cool spots in the incubator (usually a still - air incubator), power failures
Chicks smeared with egg contents Temperature too low, humidity too high, poor ventilation
Chicks stuck to shells Temperature too high, humidity too low, incubator opened too often, incubator located in a drafty area
Crippled chicks Temperatures too high, humidity too low, eggs set upside down (large end should be up), brooded on newspaper or slick surface
Weak or small chicks Temperatures too high, humidity too low, poor ventilation, power failures
Large "mushy" chicks, dead with foul odor Temperature too low, poor ventilation, navel infection
Developed substantially, but died early Eggs not turned properly, improper incubation temperatures, poor ventilation, some diseases (be sure to buy eggs from an NPIP certified flock), power failure, incubation temperature spike or drop
Developed a few days, but died Shipping problems (eggs got too hot or too cold during shipping), bacterial infection (eggs had hairline cracks from shipping or other trauma, or eggs were washed, introducing bacteria, or eggs picked up bacteria from a dirty incubator or dirty hands), incubation temperature spike or drop, power failure
Rotten or blood in egg Same as "developed a few days but died." These eggs can either present as some development or as "rotten" if the dead embryos deteriorated in the heat of the incubator
No development Shipping problems (eggs "scrambled" during rough shipping, too hot or too cold), eggs not fertile, eggs not set promptly after resting
Chapter 7: CandlingChapter 9: Still Interested?