Archive for September, 2009

Trouble Shooting Failures with Egg Incubation

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
When incubation of eggs fails, indications are often available that a well trained professional uses for diagnosing the causes for failure. The information listed below includes the more common symptoms for incubation failures, the causes for each symptom, and the recommended correctivemeasures. A good incubation publication is available from your local County Agent’s office or the Poultry Extension Department at Mississippi State University to help in analyzing the incubation procedure. It explains the artificial incubating process more in detail. Ask for MCES Publication 1182, Hatching Quality Chicks.
Symptoms of incubation/breeder management problems include:

  • Clear eggs with no visible embryonic development.
  • Blood rings in incubated eggs.
  • Many dead embryos at an early stage.
  • Chicks fully formed, but dead without pipping.
  • Pipped eggs, but died without hatching.
  • Early hatching.
  • Late hatching or not hatching uniformly.
  • Sticky embryos.
  • Embryos sticking or adhering to shell.
  • Crippled and malformed chicks.
  • Abnormal, weak, or small chicks.
  • Chicks with labored breathing.
  • Large, soft-bodied mushy chicks.
  • Rough or unhealed navels on chicks.
  • Short down on chicks.
  • Excessive yellow down color.

 

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Corrective Measures

Clear Eggs with no embryonic development (infertiles)

Males undernourished

Follow a recommended feeding program to provide adequate nutrition. Replace underweight males with vigorous ones

Too few males

Increase the number of males in the flock.

Seasonal decline in fertility

Use young cockerels more resistant to environmental stress.

Competition among breeding males

Do not use too many males. Rear all males together. Place temporary partitions within large pens.

Diseased flock

Conduct an approved disease control program.

Frozen combs and wattles

Provide comfortable housing. Properly select and maintain drinking fountains.

Old males

Replace with younger males.

Selected mating in pens

Artificially inseminate infertile hens. Replace males in the pen/house.

Male sterility

Replace males in the pen/house.

Crowded breeders

Provide recommended floor space, at least 3 ft²/bird.

Improper artificial insemination techniques or use of old/over-diluted semen.

Follow recommendations of primary breeder company.

Eggs damaged by environment

Gather eggs frequently (at least once daily).

Eggs stored too long or incorrectly

Store eggs at 50-60 degrees F. and 60% relative humidity. Incubate eggs within 7 days of lay.

 

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Corrective Measures

Blood rings

Improper storage

Follow recommended egg storage and gathering recommendations.

Improper incubation temperatures

Check thermometer accuracy and incubator functions. Follow recommended temperature settings.

Improper breeder nutrition

Feed breeders a diet with balanced nutrient levels.

Improper fumigation

Follow fumigation recommendations.

 

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Corrective Measures

Many dead embryos at early stages

Improper incubation temperatures (usually too high)

Follow recommended incubation temperatures.

Improper egg turning

Turn at least 3 times daily.

Inherited low hatchability

Avoid cross breeding. May need to secure different breeding stock.

Improper ventilation

Increase ventilation rate in incubator and/or room, but avoid drafts. Add oxygen at high altitudes.

Pullorum disease or other salmonelloses

Use eggs from disease-free sources. Have NPIP representatives blood-test the breeder flock.

Improper nutrition of breeders

Provide a well-balanced nutritional diet to breeders.

 

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Corrective Measures

Chicks fully formed, but dead without pipping

Low average humidity

Maintain recommended humidity for species of bird incubated.

Improper incubation temperature

Check thermometer accuracy and incubator functions. Follow recommended temperature settings.

Improper ventilation in incubator

Adjust ventilation to provide optimum moisture-loss rate from egg during incubation.

Improper turning of eggs

Turn eggs at least three times daily until 3 days prior to hatching.

Chilling of eggs

Gather eggs frequently and store under proper conditions.

Diseased or poorly conditioned breeder flock

Conduct a good disease control and breeder management program. Use a well-balanced nutritional diet.

 

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Corrective Measures

Pipped eggs, but died without hatching

Insufficient moisture

Increase humidity (wet-bulb temperature) during the hatching period.

Improper ventilation

Increase ventilation rate in incubator and/or room, but avoid drafts.

Improper setting of eggs causing malpositioned embryos

Set eggs with small end down. Turn eggs properly but avoid turning within 3 days of hatching.

 

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Corrective Measures

Early hatching (may have bloody navels)

High incubation temperatures

Follow recommended incubation temperatures. Check equipment for proper function. Guard against electrical surges or high incubator room temperatures.

Improper egg storage

Store eggs at 50-60 degrees F. and 60% R.H. Turn at least 3 times daily.

 

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Corrective Measures

Late hatching or not hatching uniformly

Low incubation temperatures

Follow recommended incubation temperatures.

Warm and cool spots in incubator due to faulty design

Contact incubator company or obtain a different incubator design.

Old or improperly stored eggs

Gather eggs frequently, cool immediately and store eggs properly. Do not store longer than 7 days.

 

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Corrective Measures

Sticky embryos (embryos may be smeared with egg contents)

High average incubation humidity

Follow recommended incubation humidity. Check size of air cell as an indicator for adjusting humidity condition.

Low incubation temperature

Follow recommended temperature settings.

Lethal genes

Avoid cross breeding. May need to secure different breeding stock.

Inadequate ventilation

Increase ventilation rate in incubator and/or room, but avoid drafts.

Improper fumigation of eggs

Fumigate eggs by following the procedure carefully.

 

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Corrective Measures

Embryos sticking or adhering to shell

Low incubation humidity (especially during hatching)

Increase incubation humidity by increasing water evaporation. Embryos dried too much.

Excessive ventilation rate

Reduce ventilation rate but maintain minimum air exchange to prevent suffocation of embryos.

 

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Corrective Measures

Crippled and malformed chicks

Improper incubation temperatures (usually too high)

Follow recommended incubation temperatures.

Low incubation humidity

Increase incubation humidity by increasing water evaporation. Embryos dried too much.

Improper egg setting position or turning during incubation

Set eggs with small ends down. Turn eggs at least 3 times daily. Do not turn eggs within 3 days of hatching.

Heredity

Proper culling and breeding practices will reduce problems.

Slick hatching trays

Use trays with wire floors or place crinoline on hatching surface.

Improper nutrition of breeders

Provide a well-balanced nutritional diet to breeders.

 

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Corrective Measures

Abnormal, weak, or small chicks

High incubation or hatching temperatures

Follow recommended incubation temperatures.

Small eggs hatch small chicks

Set only standard or large sized eggs.

Insufficient incubation humidity

Maintain recommended humidity for species of bird incubated..

Improper ventilation in hatcher unit

Increase ventilation rate, but avoid drafts.

Diseased or poorly conditioned breeder flock

Use eggs from disease-free sources only. Have NPIP representatives blood-test the breeder flock.

Improper nutrition of breeders

Provide a well-balanced nutritional diet to breeders (especially vitamin levels).

Excessive fumigation in hatcher

Fumigate using proper procedures.

 

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Corrective Measures

Chicks with labored breathing

Excessive use of fumigant

Follow recommended fumigation procedures.

Respiratory diseases

Check disease status of breeder flock. Conduct a thorough cleanup and disinfection of incubator and hatching facilities.

 

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Corrective Measures

Large, soft-bodied mushy chicks; dead on trays; bad odor

Low average incubation temperature

Follow recommended incubation temperatures.

Poor ventilation

Increase ventilation rate in incubator and/or room, but avoid drafts.

Navel infection (Omphalitis)

Clean and disinfect incubator and hatching units between settings of eggs. Maintain dry hatching trays. Properly store and fumigate eggs.

 

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Corrective Measures

Rough or unhealed navels

Improper incubation temperatures

Follow recommended incubation temperatures.

High hatching humidity

Maintain proper humidity.

Navel infection (Omphalitis)

Clean and disinfect incubator and hatching units between settings of eggs. Maintain dry hatching trays. Properly store and fumigate eggs.

 

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Corrective Measures

Short down on chicks

High incubation temperatures

Follow recommended incubation temperatures.

Low incubation humidity

Follow suggestions to correct insufficient humidity.

Excessive ventilation

Reduce vent openings to restrict but maintain adequate air exchange.

Holding chicks in hatcher too long after hatching

Remove all chicks as soon as fluffy but within 24 hours after hatching.

 

Symptoms

Probable Cause

Corrective Measures

Excessive yellow coloring of down

Improper and excessive fumigation in hatcher unit

Follow recommended fumigation procedures.

Prepared by Dr. Tom W. Smith, Emeritus Professor of Poultry Science, Mississippi State University.