Egg Hatching Troubleshooting Guide

For when it all goes horribly wrong...

This Egg Hatching Troubleshooting Guide will help you determine possible causes of your incubation problems and some solutions.

The Egg Hatching Troubleshooting Guide

Chicken eggs of all breeds including Bantams should take 21 days of incubation to hatch.

In some cases, the same batch of eggs split between a hen for part of the hatch and the remaining amount in the incubator there can be up to one full day of difference.

Eggs hatched under a hen sometimes hatch first. If they take longer or shorter time, here are a few reasons why:

Egg Hatching Troubleshooting Guide:


Probable Causes


Many clear eggs. No blood (Determined by candling)

1) Infertility.
Too few males
Males too old
Males inactive
Frozen combs and wattles
2) Embryo died early 1-2 days

1) Use strong vigorous males.
2) Do not hold eggs longer than 14 days.
Keep at temperature of 50-55 degrees F.
in moist atmosphere – gather often.

Slight blood rings

3) Improper temperature.
4) Improper care of eggs before setting.

3) Check accuracy of thermometer.
Check thermostat, heating element, electricity supply.
Check operating temperature against instructions.
4) See suggestions (2) above and see "Note" below.

Many dead germs

5) Temperature too high or too low.
6) Improper turning of eggs.
7) Improper feeding of breeding birds.
8) Breeding (genetic low hatchability)
9) Improper ventilation;
insufficient oxygen.

5) See suggestions (3) above.
6) Turn eggs at least 3 times preferably 5 in 24 hours.
7) Check vitamin and mineral content of breeder mash.
8) Avoid close inbreeding.
9) Increase ventilation of incubator rooms, avoid drafts.

Pipped eggs not hatching.
Hatch non uniform.
Hatching too early.
Hatching too late.
Sticky hatch.

10) Insufficient moisture.

11) Too high temperature.
12) Too low temperature.
13) Probably too high temperature.

10) Increase evaporating surface.
First 18 days wet bulb of 85-87F., 3 day hatching period 89-90F.
11) See (3) above and see "Note" below.
12) See (3) above and see "Note" below.
13) See (3) above and see "Note" below.

Cripples and malpositions

14) Temperature too high.
15) Too low moisture.
16) Improper turning or setting.
17) Hatching trays too smooth.

14) See (3) above and see "Note" below.
15) See (10) above.
16) See (6) above.
17) Use wire bottom trays or crinoline.

Very large soft bodied weak chicks,
mushy chicks, dead on trays, bad odour.

18) Low average temperature.
19) Poor ventilation.
20) Naval infection in incubator.

18) See (3) above and see "Note" below.
19) See (9) above.
20) Careful cleaning and
sanitization of incubator between hatchings.

Rough navels.

21) High temperature or wide temperature variations.
22) Low moisture.

21) See (3) above.
22) See (10) above.

NOTE: If chicks hatch out a day early it indicates temperature was a little too high, so on next setting lower temperature by ½ degree F. for entire incubation period. If chicks hatch a day late, raise temperature ½ degree F. for entire incubation period.

In case of a power failure or incubator malfunction causing the eggs to get chilled, quick action is required to save the hatch. Immersing the eggs in warm water for a few minutes can quickly revive the chicks in the shell, depending on how long the eggs were chilled, and how far along in the incubation period the developing embryos are.

A thunderstorm as the chicks are incubating can kill them in the shell.

Try dowsing eggs before hatching them for a better percentage of pullets.

With careful adjustments, you can get around 60-90% hatching of your chicken eggs by following this Egg Hatching Troubleshooting Guide. You know what they say - don't count your chickens before they're hatched, and now you know where that saying comes from.

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