INCUBATION TROUBLESHOOTING...

Poor hatching results are frustrating and often confusing due to the large number of factors involved. The most common are given below.

It is important to glean as much information from the hatching results as possible to enable the problem to be analysed in detail. Record dates that eggs are set, incubator settings, dates of hatches, weight losses and the number and condition of hatchings. Candle or break open unhatched eggs to estimate the
extent of embryo development.

Some general guides:

Observation
Likely Cause(s)
Solution(s)
No chicks hatch, no sign of embryo development. Infertility, infection, drastically incorrect incubation settings, parent ill health. Check egg viability - are similar eggs hatching naturally? Disinfect the incubator. Check incubator settings and procedures - particularly temperature.
No chicks hatch, early death of embryos. Infection, power failure to the incubator, incorrect temperature setting. Sterilise the incubator, check mains supply and incubator temperature.
Large numbers of late stage 'death in shell'. Incorrect humidity, probably too high. Try reducing average humidity levels.
Chicks hatch earlier than expected, deformities. Incubation temperature too high. Reduce incubation temperature slightly (0.5°C).
Chicks hatch later than expected. Incubation temperature too low. Eggs stored too long. Increase incubation temperature slightly (0.5°C). Reduce storage times.
Hatch dates widely spread. Different rates of development due to different storage times, incubation temperature variation. Limit egg storage times. Check for incubation temperature variation - sunlight, large room variation, etc.
Generally poor results. Incorrect incubation settings, poor parent bird health, inadequate egg turning. Improve parent bird health, check all incubation settings, analyse egg weight loss to confirm humidity correct, check turning working correctly.


As can be seen from the table, most of the symptoms listed above are caused by
a small number of problems.

Temperature - Always follow the manufacturers' guidelines: different incubators will require the thermometers to read different temperatures depending on their design. If in doubt replace the thermometer to check accuracy of the readings.

Infection - If you are getting poor results it is particularly important to maintain good hygiene within the incubator. Thoroughly clean the inside of the cabinet and all parts with a disinfectant solution. Again, follow the manufacturers' guidelines and make sure electrical parts are kept dry.

Humidity - Ideally weigh the eggs to monitor weight loss. Aim for about 13-15% (or more for some altricial species) loss during incubation and alter the humidity level to compensate for too much or too little weight loss.

Egg viability - When eggs do not hatch consistently the incubator or incubation technique is usually blamed but it is essential that the eggs set are viable. The parent birds must be healthy, not too young, old or in-bred if good hatch rates are going to be achieved.


 

 

Recommended Temperatures

Incubation Period
Forced Air
Still Air
Hen
37.5°C (99.5°F)
39.2°C (102.5°F)
21 Days
Pheasant
37.7°C (99.9°F)
39.5°C (103.0°F)
24 Days
Quail
37.7°C (99.9°F)
39.2°C (102.5°F)
17 Days
Duck
37.5°C (99.5°F)
39.0°C (102.0°F)
28 Days
Geese
37.5°C (99.5°F)
39.0°C (102.0°F)
28 to 32 Days