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Common reasons why egg don’t hatch – Part 2

A few weeks ago I posted a list of common reasons why eggs sometimes don’t hatch.  I reviewed things like humidity, weak eggs and infection.  Here are four more things to consider.

Rough handling – It is becoming more and more common to have fertile eggs delivered to us through the post office.  With the availability of eggs from popular sites like ebay.com and McMurray Hatchery, it’s getting pretty simple to find just about any kind of breed you may be looking for.  But this comes at a price.  I don’t mean a price in dollars, I mean a price in hatch rate.  Many sellers are pretty good at packaging their eggs so they make the journey un-cracked, but who knows what kind of roller coaster ride they went through to make it to your doorstep.  And occasionally the post office will X-ray packages for safety reasons.  As a general rule, when an egg comes to you through the mail, you can expect the hatch rate to be lower than if they are fresh from local birds. 

Dormant too long – Nature has designed eggs to be able to lay dormant for a period of time so the mother bird has time to lay a nice clutch before starting to sit them.  But this only goes so far.  Generally, eggs that are kept safe and cool will keep just fine for seven days.  Some folks will even go 10-14 days, but this is generally considered to be too long.  After sitting dormant too long, the viability of the embryo goes way down and hatch rates will suffer.  Also, turning the eggs once a day during the dormant period is a good idea to keep the yolk from getting stuck to the shell. 

Poor egg turning – If you ever get the chance to sit and watch a mother hen on your clutch of eggs for a few hours (not many of us get the chance), you will see the hen reach under and gently rotate her eggs.  And somehow she knows just how often and how much to do it.  We replicate this practice by using an automatic egg turner or by turning the eggs by hand.  Whichever method you choose, it is very important that the eggs get rotated!  Automatic eggs turners will generally rotate the eggs six times per day.  If doing it by hand, at least three times is recommended.  More is OK, but don’t do it less! 

Bad temperature – This one is normally pretty obvious, but even so, it’s worth mentioning.  If you notice your chicks hatching early or late, chances are that it’s because the temperature is not right.  And when they are late or early, even though some may hatch, it usually a smaller number and they tend to be not as strong.  If you hatch is a little early, turn down the temperature between 0.5 and 1.0 degrees F.  If they are a little late, turn it up 0.5 to 1.0 degrees.  Something you can be sure of is that thermometers can be wrong but nature will never lie to you.  J 

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Kip Jensen

Years ago when we first started getting in to egg incubation, we were told that hatching quail eggs was one of the most difficult types of birds to hatch.  So when we started getting really good results with quail, we were feeling pretty good about our hatching abilities.  But I have learned that there is another type of poultry that can also be tricky to incubate: Ducks! 

As you consider duck egg incubation, there are a few key differences than other non-water fowl.  And these items make a big difference!   

First of all, most breeds of duck eggs take about a week longer than chicken eggs.  And some (Muscovy ducks, for example), take two weeks longer.  The extra time in the incubator means more time for little variables to add up and go wrong.  The temperature needs for ducks are the same as for chickens and most other poultry, but the moisture requirements are different.  Ducks get wet and so the eggs naturally are exposed to more moisture than other birds.  We try to make these changes in the incubator where the eggs will be set.

Mother Nature has designed birds with an innate ability to do the correct things to ensure a good hatch.  Their bodies are naturally the correct temperature and produce moisture which gives the eggs the environment they need.  The mother’s sense of smell tells her when an egg has gone bad so she can remove it from the nest.  They naturally know that they are supposed to turn the eggs so the developing embryos get the needed rotation.  Nature does a great job and we humans just try to replicate that the best we can.  And that’s where the incubator comes in.

The incubation period for most ducks is 28 days.  For a few species, such as Muscovy ducks, the hatch time is between 34-37 days.  The lock-down period (the last 2-3 days before hatching) needs to be adjusted accordingly.  The humidity is typically set about around 55% for the incubation period and increased to around 65% for the lock-down period.  As soon as the birds start to pip, the humidity should be increased to around 80%. 

Ducks are an extremely rewarding bird to hatch and raise.  Of all of the breeds of birds, ducks may be the cutest of them all.  They are very active, they like to run and they love to get wet!  Prepare to provide them lots of water and have fun watching them play!

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Kip Jensen

A common question we often get is this: What is an appropriate temperature range for my incubator? 

We all know that the target temperature for incubating most bird eggs is 99.5 degrees F.  But we also know that getting an incubator to stay at exactly 99.5 degrees is just about impossible.  Egg incubators naturally have a temperature range that occurs as the thermostat controls the power going to the heating system.  In an on/off thermostat, the power turns completely off and then back on at full power.  As the heater cools down and then heats back up there is a delay before the air inside the incubator starts feeling the effect of the heating and cooling cycle.  This results in the temperature range that you will see as you monitor the thermometer in your incubator.  Even in a proportional style thermostat there is still a temperature range, though it is often less. 

So what is an appropriate range?  It turns out that that is a pretty tough question to answer because it depends on several things.  A better question is, “What is a good cycle time?”  The cycle time is the time it takes the incubator to go from the highest temperature (during the heating cycle) to the lowest temperature (during the cooling cycle).  Let’s discuss that a bit. 

Let’s say, for example, that your highest point is 102.5 degrees and your lowest is 96.5 degrees.  This gives us a total range of 6.0 degrees.  That seems huge and really bad.  However, if the cycle time is fast enough, this range would be just fine.  But wait, if my eggs reach 102.5 degrees that’s really bad, right?  Yes, that is correct.  But we have to remember that the air inside your incubator is warming and cooling much, much faster than your eggs.  So if the temperature cycles between that high and low temperature within just a couple of minutes, your eggs have experienced almost no temperature change.  The key is to get the AVERAGE temperature really close to 99.5 degrees and then make sure that the cycle time is short enough so the eggs stay very close to that average.  Most incubators will cycle between the high and low points within just a couple of minutes and that is very appropriate for keeping the eggs at the average temperature. 

Another example would be a high temperature of 101.0 and a low of 98.0.  But with a cycle time of 15 minutes.  The average is still 99.5 degrees and the range is only 3 degrees.  That’s better, right?  Well, no.  The cycle time is pretty long and gives the eggs a lot of time to heat and cool.  The eggs in the first scenario would be better off than this second scenario. 

We have found that keeping the cycle time short and then ensuring that the average temperature is very close to 99.5 degrees is the best way to ensure your eggs have the best opportunity for a great hatch.

Comments | Posted in How To Articles By Kip Jensen

Many of our customers have been asking about our soon-to-be released IncuView.  The IncuView is an all-in-one egg incubator that has some unique features that we are very excited about.  But the main question we are getting is when will it be available?  We hoped this would be available for the main incubation season this year.  But as is often the case, developing this new product has taken longer than expected.  The good news is that we are very close.  And the even better news is that our test results have been superb! 

This incubator combines some of the best features from some of the best incubators out there and combines them all in one. 

Here are some of the key features that we are very excited about.  First of all, this is very easy to use.  It provides a full panoramic view of what is happening inside the incubator.  This is SO cool when it comes time to watch your little chicks break out of their shells.  It comes with an integrated universal automatic egg turner.  The control module is easy to read and comes pre-set (but easy to adjust, if necessary).  The heaters and forced air fan are built in, along with the humidity monitor (hygrometer).  It plugs into your wall outlet but converts the power to 12V DC power so it is electrically very safe inside.  It can be powered by both 110/120V AC as well as 220/240V AC so it can be used anywhere in the world.  And it has a durable plastic shell which makes it easy to clean, easy to store and long lasting. 

Perhaps the best feature of all is that it won’t cost a fortune to own!  The specific price has not been set yet, but it will be very affordable for the type of incubator that it is. 

So far this has been tested with chicken, quail, duck, goose, turkey and pheasant eggs.  Please stand by because we are only a few weeks away from making this available.     

1 Comments | Posted in Incubator Warehouse News By Kip Jensen
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