Common reasons why egg don’t hatch – Part 2

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 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