Chick Pipped but Not Hatching – Causes & Solutions

Egg-hatching can be among the most nerve-racking experiences for chicken raisers because they aren’t sure whether the eggs they have been watching for the last three weeks will hatch.

chicken pipping not hatching

Ideally, you will notice a pip around the chicken eggs on the 20th day of incubation, and your chicks should hatch on the 21st day. However, baby chicks can pip and fail to hatch on the 21st day.

Some possible causes of chicks not hatching after pipping include inadequate temperatures during hatching, bacteria in the eggs, and nutritional deficiencies in laying hens.

Possible Causes of Chick Not Hatching

Nothing pleases a chicken keeper more than seeing their eggs pipping because it signifies a successful hatch.

However, egg pipping isn’t an assurance you will get a successful hatch after 21 days. These are the possible causes of an unsuccessful hatch.

– Inadequate Humidity or Temperature During Incubation

Poor hatching rates usually occur due to improper humidity and temperature control during incubation. Too low or too high temperatures can affect embryo development during the incubation period.

Poor hatching rates can also occur when humidity levels are too low or too high. It would be best if you tried keeping the temperature at around 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit to guarantee a successful hatch rate.

You can increase the incubation temperature and humidity if they are too low. You can also increase the humidity if it is too low to get adequate humidity levels during incubation.

– Incorrect Position of the Chick inside the Egg

The position of the chick inside the hatching egg should be at a level position. You must correctly position the eggs to ensure the chicks inside remain in an appropriate position as they await hatching.

The chick inside won’t successfully pip when its head is facing downward or upwards. The head should be at a level position to ensure the chick inside has an easy time pipping through the egg.

Setting the eggs in an incorrect position can make it difficult for the chick to progress past the pipping stage.

Avoid turning the eggs, especially during the last days of incubation, because you might set the chicks inside in an incorrect position, increasing the likelihood of the eggs not pipping or hatching.

– Weak or Malformed Beak

Chicks with malformed or weak beaks can’t successfully hatch after 21 days. That means eggs carrying chicks with deformed and weak beaks won’t hatch even if you set them under the correct incubation temperature and humidity.

Pipping depends on how well a chick can peck through the eggshell in readiness to hatch after 21 days. Otherwise, the chick will die inside the egg because it won’t pip the egg, ultimately leading to an unsuccessful hatch.

Poor hen nutrition can lead to the development of chicks with weak and malformed beaks inside the hatching eggs.

You will get eggshells with many dead chicks inside if most of the chicks have weak and malformed beaks.

– Presence of Bacteria or Fungi in the Egg

The fungi or bacteria in the hatching eggs can also contribute to a low hatch rate. Bacterial and fungal infections inside the hatching eggs can suppress embryo development.

Eggs with fungal and bacterial infections won’t form embryos because these infections will suppress the yolk inside, leaving the embryos with nothing to eat throughout the incubation process.

Chicken eggs in open-cup nests have significantly high chances of getting fungal and bacterial infections, dramatically lowering their hatchability.

Hatching eggs in poor and dirty conditions can expose them to the risk of fungal and bacterial infection, making such eggs unable to hatch.

– Nutritional deficiencies in the hen that laid the egg

Nutritional deficiencies in laying hens can also affect the hatchability rate. A lack of crucial vitamins like vitamins B16, B12, and A can make the hens lay eggs that can’t hatch.

For instance, calcium-deficient hens usually lay low-quality eggs that are likely to hatch.

Embryos inside eggs with thin shells are less likely to hatch because thin shells expose the embryos to harsh environmental factors, like too high or too low temperature and humidity levels.

So, you can’t expect hens with nutritional deficiencies to lay eggs that will guarantee you a successful hatch when you set their eggs on the incubator for hatching.

baby chick early hatching

What to Do if Chick Pipped But Not Hatching?

It’s frustrating and annoying to see your chicks pipping, yet they aren’t hatching. After all, you have been waiting for the eggs to pip for weeks because that’s the clearest sign that you will soon have some baby chicks to expand your flock.

It would be best to do these things when chicks pip but fail to hatch as expected.

  • Wait for a few hours– Chicken eggs don’t hatch simultaneously. Some eggs may hatch a few hours after pipping, while others might take even longer. Wait for a couple of hours for the eggs to hatch after pipping. You might be surprised to see some eggs you thought won’t hatch after pipping, hatching into healthy and cute baby chicks. However, if the eggs take a day or two to hatch after pipping, the eggs may not hatch, or the chicks inside are already dead.
  • Check humidity and temperature-Chicks pipping but not hatching could be due to incorrect temperature and humidity during incubation. You should check humidity and temperature if the chicks pipped and failed to hatch. Use a hygrometer to check whether the humidity level is too low or too high. Adjust the humidity levels in the incubator to ensure they remain stable from the time of pipping to hatching. Similarly, a thermometer can help you tell whether the temperature in the incubator is too low or too high. Extremely high temperatures can contribute to an early hatch, whereby most chicks will die before hatching. Extremely low temperatures can delay hatching, making some chicks die inside the eggs.
  • Gently rotate the eggs– Chicks can fail to hatch after pipping if the eggs are in incorrect positions. It means the chicks inside will struggle to come out of the shells if their heads are facing upwards or downwards. You can gently rotate the eggs to keep them in the best position for the chicks to come out of the shells after pipping. However, refrain from turning the eggs multiple times because you might set them in the wrong position.
  • Carefully and gently remove the pieces of shells- This tip will help reduce the number of chicks that die inside the eggs during incubation. Ideally, egg pipping should occur a day before the actual hatch. However, some chicks may be unable to break through the shells, especially weak chicks with malformed and weak beaks. You can save chicks from dying inside the eggs by carefully and gently removing the pieces of eggshell. You might notice some live chicks inside the eggs. These chicks will otherwise die if you fail to make such a timely intervention. It’s similar to assisting an animal in giving birth when the conditions aren’t suitable for delivery. However, you have to be extremely careful while removing the pieces of shells to let the live chicks out of their shells. Otherwise, you could kill or injure some live baby chicks a couple of hours away from hatching.
  • Ask a poultry expert– A poultry expert can help deal with issues of chicks pipping but failing to hatch. Talking to a poultry expert is the best way to save chicks from dying in their eggs, especially if you have no idea what to do if you are facing the problem of chicks pipping but failing to hath for the first time. The expert will check the eggs and carry out various methods to ensure the chicks can come off the shells safely.

Prevention of Chick Not Hatching

Dealing with cases of chicks not hatching can be frustrating when you eagerly await to have some cute chicks to add to your growing flock.

These are several preventive measures you should follow to prevent cases of chicks not hatching.

  • Provide good care and nutrition to the hen that lays the egg-The quality of eggs hens lay can affect hatchability. Since hens with nutritional deficiencies won’t lay healthy eggs that have a high chance of hatching, it’s good to provide them with excellent care and nutrition to help them lay eggs that will hatch during incubation.
  • Follow incubation temperature and humidity guidelines- It’s prudent to adhere to proper incubation temperature and humidity when hatching chicken eggs. For instance, ensure the temperature and humidity aren’t too high or too low. Use a thermometer to check whether temperatures remain at 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Candle the eggs– Always candle the chicken eggs before incubating them. Candling will help you distinguish the infertile eggs that never hatch from the fertile eggs with high chances of hatching.
  • Avoid turning the eggs too frequently– Turning the eggs too frequently can put them in the wrong position, making them unable to hatch, particularly when chicks pip. Avoid turning the eggs too often, especially during the final days of incubation.


There are many possible cases of chicks not hatching, even after pipping. You can control most of them if you adhere to the proper egg-hatching guidelines.

For instance, you can incubate the eggs in appropriate humidity and temperature conditions to ensure they don’t fail to hatch due to wrong humidity and temperature levels.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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