The reasons for eggs not hatching is not well known to many. It’s very disappointing for poultry farmers when they build huge expectations during the incubation period, but end up without chicks.
As someone with an interest in poultry farming, I know how it feels when eggs don’t hatch. The good news is that this article looks into the problem in detail and explains what to avoid. Here are the reasons why your eggs are not hatching.
1: Too High Or Too Low Temperatures
I have noted that too high and too low temperatures are not good for a quality hatching process. Just as it is for you, thriving in an environment with high levels of temperature is not possible. Similarly, you can’t dwell in an environment where the temperatures are too low.
Eggs require the right temperature levels for them to hatch. Remember, effective hatching is essential here. Just because you see an egg hatch does not mean that everything is good. The chick has to be in the best condition for the hatching process to be effective.
Too hot or too cold temperatures are not the ideal environment for the eggs you intend to hatch. Normally, if you expose eggs to high temperatures, it’s a dangerous affair. The result of this is that your eggs will probably hatch earlier than expected. High temperatures lead to reduced hatch rates and, of course, a high probability of deformities.
An example of the deformities that you’re likely to experience in this situation is a missing toe. Am sure you wouldn’t want to have your eggs hatch chicks with deformities.
If too low temperatures are in your incubator, chances are that the hatching process will delay. This will also reduce the hatch rate. A good number of eggs will not hatch because the temperature is not ideal for perfect hatching.
2: Too High Or Too Low Humidity Levels
According to Mississippi State University, during the incubation period, it’s important to ensure that humidity levels are right. If the levels of humidity are extremely high during the incubation period, chances are that the eggs will not hatch. Another problem associated with humidity is extremely low levels. If you expose your eggs to extreme humidity levels (high or low) during the hatching period, the result will be a failed hatching process.
From my experience rearing hens, water evaporation causes egg weight loss of around 12%. This is the normal weight loss range during incubation. In the event that there is high humidity during the incubation period, there’s definitely a problem brewing. The high humidity levels prevent evaporation from taking place. The result of this is that the chick could end up drowning in the water inside the egg. If the chick drowns and dies, there will be no hatching.
Also, if you allow humidity levels to decrease, there will be problems ahead. The result of this will be the membranes inside the shell sticking to the chick. Obviously, this will make it difficult for the chick to turn while inside the egg and prevent the hatching process.
So, if I want my eggs to hatch successfully, I should ensure that humidity levels are set within the right range.
According to University of California, infertility is a problem that will definitely prevent hatching. Ideally, one of the things that come to my mind when I see my eggs hatching is that they were fertile. If they are fertile from the beginning, they will have to hatch unless there is another reason preventing them. On the other hand, if they are not fertile from the beginning, they will not hatch.
Am sure you have a mature male in your flock. This means you have the source of fertilization at your disposal.
However, despite having a mature male with the capacity to do a great job, some eggs might not be fertile. The eggs that don’t get fertilized don’t hatch. So, if you notice that some of your eggs don’t hatch, it could be that they are infertile. The best thing to do is to continue candling your eggs after the first 7 days. This will ensure that you remove the ones that show signs of no development.
3b. Immature Breeder
Breeder roosters need to be mature and in good health. Very young cockerel or old roosters have abnormal sperm count. This abnormality in their sperm count prevents strong, healthy and fertile eggs. Your breeder rooster should be mature and have a near similar age to the hens.
Moreover, the hens in the breeding flock need to be mature and in good health to lay a sound and fertile egg.
4: Poor Egg Quality
If the quality of the egg is not at its best, there might be problems with the hatching process. Remember, the egg is the place where the chick develops. It is the place that houses the developing chick. So, if it lacks enough quality to bring a quality chick, it’s highly likely that you won’t see an effective hatch.
One of the reasons why the quality of an egg can be poor is the health of a hen. Quite obviously, a sick hen won’t produce a good quality egg. You should make sure that your hens are healthy and strong if you want to get healthy eggs from them. If your hens are healthy, then the quality of the eggs they produce will be superior as well.
While it’s possible to have a strong and healthy hen, some eggs might not be as strong. This is still okay. The best you can do is to make sure that you take care of your hens at all times to maintain high health standards.
5: Contaminated Eggs
Contaminated eggs prevent the normal and healthy development of the embryo. Dirty eggs are not good for the hatching process. One of the problems that dirty eggs pose is that important gases don’t function as they should. Specifically, dirt prevents oxygen from finding its way into the egg.
Additionally, dirt makes it impossible for carbon dioxide to move out of eggs. The exchange of gases is vital for the developing chick.
Unfortunately, if there is contamination on your eggs or dirt on the surface, this exchange won’t happen. The embryo will choke and die in the process. The result is that there won’t be any hatching taking place.
Another problem with dirty eggs is that the incubator could get infected with bacteria and lead to serious problems. The bacteria find their way into the egg and end up killing the developing chick. Obviously, the egg can’t hatch if there is no chick developing inside the egg. The best advice I would give you is to always ensure that your eggs are clean. If there is any dirt on them, use a dry rag to clean them. Don’t use water to clean them. The problem with water is that it gets rid of the protective coating that keeps away harmful bacteria.
6: Mishandling Of Eggs
There is a risk when you mishandle eggs you intend to incubate. For example, if you order eggs for incubation, there could be a likelihood of mishandling in the process of the delivery. While you can order eggs for incubation and have them in good condition for the process, don’t be surprised if some don’t hatch.
Normally, mishandled eggs reduce the hatch rate considerably. This is a problem that many people may not realize. The next time you order eggs, tell the delivery company to handle them well to avoid any risks of failed hatching.
7: Bad Egg Turning
If you’ve ever seen a bird turning eggs several times in a day, it’s because it’s important to do so. Whenever you’re incubating eggs, you should make sure that you turn them several times a day. Preferably, turn them 5-7 times a day. You can use your hand or an automatic egg turner for the process. Turning eggs during the incubation period is crucial because it helps the embryo to develop well. Failure to turn your eggs well or enough times leads to the yolk sticking to the shell and could cause the embryo to die.
If you’ve not been turning your eggs enough times in a day or in the best way, that could be the reason why they have not been hatching. A point of caution is that always ensure that your hands are clean when turning the eggs. Dirty eggs could contaminate the eggs and hinder the exchange of essential gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide). Take note of this and you’ll increase the probability of your eggs hatching effectively.
8: Too Old Eggs
Too old eggs reduce the chances of hatching after incubation. The normal time you can store your eggs before incubating them is 7 days. This is the maximum time you should store them before the incubation process.
If they stay longer in storage, you reduce the hatch rate significantly.
If you keep them in storage for 14 days, don’t be surprised if they don’t hatch. Again, make sure you store them in a cool and dry place. Of great importance still, keep turning them when in storage. While in storage you don’t need to turn them as often. Twice per day is okay.
Now that you’ve known the reasons why eggs don’t hatch, you can take the necessary precautions. Most of these factors are preventable. Remember, the process of incubation is an involving one. Therefore, you have to ensure that everything is right to get quality results.
- Mississippi State University (2021). Pipped eggs that do not hatch
- University of California. (2004). Common Incubation Problems: Causes and Remedies