Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Troubleshooting Breeding Season - Part 4 Eggs Won't Hatch

How's my week going? Well, on Sunday the high was 82 F and the very next day my pansies were covered with snow!

How disappointing when fertile eggs fail to hatch.

Consider the following causes for Poor incubation temperature:

1. Pushing: Were the birds pushed to lay or was the hens abdomen red and hot to touch? Do the birds need some iodine to stimulate the thyroid gland? In my area, water is deficient in iodine, so I make sure that the birds get a bit of iodine periodically. I like the Biodecken Metabolism product which does contain some iodine and in the past I have used a few drops of vanodine in a gallon of water or Dr. Rob Marshall's product Ioford.

2. Diet during sitting: Avoid giving the hen egg nestling food and green during sitting as she may lose her incubation temperature and decided to start all over again and even abandon her nest. Feed her free choice hemp either hulled or not hulled with her regular seed, minerals and water.

3. Frighten Off Nest: Any disturbance at night can cause a hen to get off her nest and may not find her way back so that the eggs get chilled.  Kansas is known for its lightening storms and once the storm is over, I take a flash light and make sure every sitting hen is on her nest. If not, I gently place her back on her nest in the dark.

Aviaries must also not have any mice or rodents where the birds are as these creatures like to run around at night and not only carry diseases but also can scare the hen off the nest.

Rescue Attempt: Eggs that do not hatch by noon on the 14th day should be moved to a hen who is hatching or whose eggs feel hot to touch. It may take an extra day or two but many times the eggs will hatch.

Examine the eggs that failed to hatch - If they do not hatch in spite of being moved to a hatching or hot hen, open and examine them. Is the white and yolk separate and simply infertile?

Was the egg shell good or was it too thin and the chicks failed to pip through the membrane to start the hatching process? Calcium and phosphorus and minerals in the right proportions and Vitamin D3 are critical to having good shells. Is the humidity too low? 

Is there a pungent odor? Bacterial and fungal infections cause odor. Infection can be transferred from the hen to the egg and cause the chick to not develop and die in the egg or any crack or damage to eggshell integrity can let organisms in. Is the yolk mixed with the white and smelly indicating early death or partially developed chick? Bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, Streptococcus or fungal infections and even Ornithosis (also causes infertility) may be the cause of dead in the shell. I like to treat my flock before breeding with Dr. Rob Marshall's KD powder.

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