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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 5:03 pm 
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I've tried to reduce the essentials here so that those having difficulty with incubation can run down a list and see where things may be going wrong. Incubators have slight differences, but the conditions required for eggs are roughly the same.

  • TEMPERATURE: The eggs need to be kept at 37.7C
  • HUMIDITY: There needs to be humidity in the unit
  • TURNING: Eggs need to be turned until a couple of days prior to hatch

When problems occur, there can be many reasons. You need to look for a pattern and eliminate possibilities, but here are some starting points.

ProblemPossible Causes
Clear eggs - no sign of developmentNo mating or improper mating; malnourished breeders (see Egg Hatchability), eggs too old, sterility
Blood Ring or partly developedIncubator temperature too high, the eggs got chilled, eggs too old
Embryos dying between day 12-18, and chicks fully formed dying without pippingWrong incubator temperature, lack of ventilation, incorrect turning, abnormal genetics, malnourished breeders (see Egg Hatchability)
Dead in ShellAs in previous two, low average humidity, high average humidity, infectious disease, malnourished breeders (see Egg Hatchability)
Abnormal chicks - sticking to shellToo low average humidity, low humidity at hatching time
Sticky chicks - large with sticky downIncorrect turning, low temperature, too much humidity
Rough navels, often hatch a little earlyHigh incubator temperature
Small chicksSmall eggs, low humidity, high incubator temperature
Large, soft-bodied chicksLow average temperature, too high humidity, bad room ventilation
Short downHigh temperature, low humidity
Heavy breathingToo high humidity
Turkeys needing helping outLow humidity at hatching time, temperature too high in hatching tray
Crossed beakAbnormal genetics
Crooked toesToo high temperature, too low temperature
Splayed legsToo high temperature, hatching tray too smooth for gripping
Slipped Tendon at the hockAbnormal genetics
Bent neckToo long hatching due to low temperature, too long hatching due to low humidity
Draggy hatch, some chicks early but slow finishingTemperature too high, wide difference in age of eggs, membranes too dry at pipping time
Delayed hatch - eggs late pipping and slow finishingAverage temperature too low
Bad eggsExcessive humidity, hair cracks when setting

In addition to the above, Linz has posted some helpful information HERE which is related to specific nutrients and may also be of interest to those troubleshooting. I will add it here.

Signs of Deficiency in the Embryo

NutrientDeficiency Signs
Vitamin ADeath at about 48 hours of incubation from failure to develop the circulatory system; abnormalities of kidneys, eyes and skeleton.
Vitamin DDeath at about 18 or 19 days of incubation, with malpositions, soft bones, and with a defective upper mandible prominent.
Vitamin EEarly death at about 84 to 96 hours of incubation, with hemorrhaging and circulatory failure. (implicated with selenium)
Vitamin KNo physical deformities from a simple deficiency, nor can they be provoked by antivitamins, but mortality occurs between 18 days and hatching, with variable hemorrhaging.
ThiaminHigh embryonic mortality during emergence but no obvious symptoms other than polyneuritis in those that survive.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)Mortality peaks at 60 hours, 14 days, and 20 days of incubation, with peaks prominent early as deficiency becomes severe. Altered limb and mandible development, dwarfism and clubbing of down are defects expressed by embryo.
NiacinEmbryo readily synthesizes sufficient niacin from tryptophan. Various bone and beak malformations occur when certain antagonists are administered during incubation.
BiotinHigh death rate at 19 days to 21 days of incubation, parrot beak, chondrodystrophy, several skeletal deformities and webbing between the toes. Perosis.
Pantothenic acidDeaths appear around 14 days of incubation, although marginal levels may delay problems until emergence. Variable subcutaneous hemorrhaging and edema; wirey down in poults.
PyridoxineEarly embryonic mortality based on antivitamin use.
Folic acidMortality at about 20 days of incubation. The dead generally appear normal, but many have bent tibiotarsus, syndactyly and mandible malformations. In poults, mortality at 26 days to 28 days of incubation with abnormalities of extremities and circulatory system.
Vitamin B12Mortality at about 20 days of incubation, with atrophy of legs, edema, hemorrhaging, fatty organs, and head between thighs malposition.
ManganeseDeaths peak prior to emergence. Chondrodystrophy, dwarfism, long bone shortening, head malformations, edema, and abnormal feathering are prominent. Perosis.
ZincDeaths prior to emergence, and the appearance of rumplessness, depletion of vertebral column, eyes underdeveloped and limbs missing.
CopperDeaths at early blood stage with no malformations.
IodineProlongation of hatching time, reduced thyroid size, and incomplete abdominal closure. Deficiency of iodine can lead to late stage deaths in shell. Australian soils are highly deficient in iodine and so it's not passed into grain grown here. Every few months, add 6-8 drops of Luguls Iodine to a litre of water for them to drink.
IronLow hematocrit; low blood hemoglobin; poor extra-embryonic circulation in candled eggs.
SeleniumHigh incidence of dead embryos early in incubation.

Hatching Table

Bantams (chickens)19-21
Large Fowl (chickens)21
Guinea Fowl28
Muscovy Duck35
Game - Bobwhite quail23
Game - mallards25-26
Swan - Bewick's30
Swan - Black36
Pheasant - Amherst23
Pheasant - Golden23
Pheasant - Reeve's24-25
Peafowl - all species28
Partridges - Chukar23
Quail - Bobwhite21
Quail - Chinese painted18
Quail - Japanese18
Jungle Fowl - Ceylon18

References and useful links:
Credit to Dr A.F. Anderson Brown - 'The Incubation Book' from where some of this was paraphrased, pp. 227-229.
Nutrient Requirements of Poultry: Ninth Revised Edition, 1994 By Subcommittee on Poultry Nutrition, Board on Agriculture, National Research Council

Please feel free to suggest further additions or alterations to this.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:54 am 
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A great resource, thanks Cathy. :-D

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