Hatching problems

When I was a little boy and something went horribly wrong, I remember my Grandma wrapping her arms around me and trying to comfort me saying, “A little rain falls in everyones life”.
Having a bad hatch is like that. Everything seems to be fine until hatch day and, well, sooner or later for those of us who do a few hatches a year, a little rain falls, so to speak, and we end up with a bad hatch.
It's important that you discover what the problem was so as to do your best to prevent it next time around. In some cases you will need to open the eggs to see at what stage development got to. I would suggest doing this outside just in case.
When I first started, I was given this information:
  1. No matter where you get your eggs, expect at least 5 percent of the eggs to be infertile; if this number is greater than 5 percent, the age of the parents (too young or too old), the ratio of cocks to hens (at least 1:14 or 1:10-12 is better), or storage conditions could be factors.

  2. A large number of deaths during the incubation process can be related to several factors: genetics, incubator management (usually only if there is a large deviation from normal such as caused by a power outage during incubation), viral infection, rough handling, hygiene, or vitamin deficiencies in the parent birds.

  3. If many chicks die after they begin pipping, it is usually related to incubator management.




Early Hatching

Temperature too high

Late Hatching

Temperature too low

Fully Developed and pipped but died

Humidity too low

Fully Developed and no piping, died

Humidity too high

Early hatch with open navals or bleeding

Temperature too high

Staggered Hatch

Improper gathering, cooling and holding of eggs. Mixing large eggs and small eggs in the same setting (large eggs are usually from older hens or heavier breeders, small eggs from younger hens or lighter breeders. Larger eggs and older eggs tend to hatch later than small eggs, all other things being equal). Hot and cold spots in incubator. Opening incubator too many times.

Eggs pipped part way, embryos either dead or still alive.


Improper turning of eggs. Low average humidity Low average temperature Excessive high temperature for a short period.

Sticky chicks - chicks smeared with egg contents.

Low average temperature Average humidity too high.

Rough, congested or poorly healed navels.

High temperature or wide temperature variations.

Malformed chicks in poor hatch

Eggs held too long before setting, even under good conditions, or eggs held any length of time at improper levels of temperature and/or humidity. Eggs chilled before setting.

Excessive early chick mortality

Eggs infected with organisms by microbial contamination through shell. Poor sanitation