Breeding birds can encounter several challenges during their breeding season, including poor hatchability, which can significantly affect their productivity. However, proactive breeders can take steps to address this problem by understanding the underlying causes of egg failure to hatch. Common reasons for egg failure to hatch in wild, pet, or domesticated birds include:
1. Poor diet
Lack of proper nutrition is one of the main reasons for eggs’ failure to hatch. Studies have shown that a deficiency of essential amino acids, particularly lysine, and methionine, can weaken the embryo and prevent it from developing correctly. Luckily, eggs themselves are an excellent source of these vital amino acids, as well as all other essential amino acids required for healthy development. Providing laying hens with hard-boiled eggs is an easy and effective way to ensure that they receive the necessary nutrients to produce healthy eggs and increase the likelihood of successful hatching.
Deficiency in vitamins E and A can be detrimental to hatchability. Therefore, a well-rounded diet is crucial, as a diet limited to seeds may not contain all the necessary minerals, vitamins, and amino acids that birds require, particularly during the breeding season. Providing a diverse range of foods, such as vegetables and fruits, can significantly improve hatchability. Nutritional supplements can also be considered by breeders if necessary to ensure that the birds are receiving adequate nutrition.
Proper humidity is essential for successful egg hatching. If the humidity level is too high, the embryo may become too wet, leading to suffocation or bacterial growth. Conversely, if the humidity level is too low, the embryo may become too dry, causing dehydration and death. The recommended humidity levels for incubating eggs vary depending on the species, but in general, it should be maintained between 45-55% in the aviary room.
Controlling humidity levels can be challenging in the real world, as we don’t always have the ideal conditions. However, breeders can take steps to maintain proper humidity levels. While the natural instincts of the female bird can help regulate humidity, breeders should intervene if the aviary is too dry. If the aviary is in a dry climate, using a humidifier can be helpful.
Spraying eggs with water is not recommended as it can increase the risk of infection. Instead, spraying water on the cage away from food can be a safe option, although it may not be effective if humidity levels are consistently low. It’s crucial to monitor and maintain appropriate humidity levels to improve hatchability.
Avian breeders should pay close attention to temperature during the incubation period as it can significantly affect hatchability. If the temperature is too low, chicks may not hatch on the scheduled date, or they may emerge small and weak with possible birth defects. Cold drafts and extended periods of female absence from the nest can cause temperature drops.
On the other hand, high temperatures can also be detrimental to chick development. Direct sunlight exposure can lead to embryo death or deformities upon hatching. The recommended temperature for captive birds during the breeding season is around 15°C, which can help maintain moderate humidity levels and improve hatchability.
The quality of the eggshell is crucial for the successful hatching of eggs. It is responsible for controlling the loss of water inside the egg and protecting the developing embryo. Several factors determine the quality of the eggshell, such as genetics, the age of the female bird, the ratio of phosphorus to calcium, the use of antibiotics, stress during egg formation, weather conditions, and microbial diseases like Mycoplasma and E. coli. Breeders should carefully monitor these factors and take appropriate measures to ensure that the eggs’ shells are of good quality.
5. Harmful microbes
Microbial infection is another significant factor that can lead to poor hatchability. Harmful bacteria such as Mycoplasma and E. coli can penetrate the eggshell and cause infection, leading to the death of the embryo. To prevent this, it is essential for the breeder to maintain a clean environment by regularly cleaning the cage and its supplies. They should also ensure to wash their hands before handling the eggs to avoid the transfer of harmful bacteria. By taking these necessary precautions, breeders can significantly reduce the risk of microbial infection and improve the hatchability of eggs.