Chicken Egg Hatching Problems

Hatching chicken eggs can be a fun and educational experience because you will have a sizeable flock if you successfully hatch more chicks. However, you can have a poor hatch which can be pretty disappointing, considering you have been waiting for 21 days for your chicken eggs to hatch.

chicken egg hatching problems

It’s helpful to know some of the chicken egg hatching problems to help you increase the possibility of successful hatches. Some of the reasons that lead to poor egg hatchability in chickens include early hatching and delayed hatching

13 Problems with Chicken Eggs Hatching

Hatching chicken eggs is rewarding because you will expect some new baby chickens to add to your flock. However, not all eggs hatch into baby chicks. Identifying the problems that lead to poor egg hatchability in chickens can help you prepare for a successful hatch. These are some of the 13 most common chicken egg-hatching problems.

– Unfertilized Egg

An infertile egg will never hatch because it doesn’t contain living cells. Infertile eggs, therefore, can’t produce viable embryos. Infertile eggs are also fragile. Hens don’t produce fertile eggs when they aren’t mating with roosters.

Your hens will lay, regardless of whether they are mating with a rooster. However, their eggs won’t be fertile. Infertile eggs won’t hatch whether a hen sits on them for 21 days or you are trying to hatch them in an incubator.

Maybe your chicken eggs didn’t hatch because they were not fertile. Happily, you can tell if a chicken egg is fertile by looking at its shape. Fertile and infertile chicken eggs look identical. The shape of an egg can help you tell whether an egg is fertile. If an egg seems rounder and solid, it will most likely be fertile.

The floating test can help you know whether the eggs you are preparing for incubation are fertile or infertile. Fertile eggs will sink when you place them on top of the water, while infertile eggs will float on the water’s surface. You can use this test to check whether the chicken eggs you intend to incubate are fertile because if they aren’t fertile, they won’t hatch.

– Dead Egg

Dead eggs won’t hatch no matter how long you incubate them or how long a hen sits on such eggs. Old chicken eggs are dead, and they have no embryos. Fertilized eggs can also turn into dead eggs if no incubation occurs within weeks.

Egg-hatching problems will arise when you try to hatch old eggs because they don’t have embryos that will make it possible for them to hatch. Kindly check if the chicken eggs you are striving to incubate are dead because they will not hatch. Separate the dead eggs from fresh eggs before setting the chicken eggs for incubation.

– Spoiled Egg

Chicken eggs can rot or spoil if you try to hatch them under improper temperatures. Chicken eggs can rot because of improper storage temperatures, improper incubator use, and hens having improper nutrition. For instance, hens that don’t get adequate nutrition will lay spoiled eggs that won’t hatch.

Other factors like poor hereditary hatching rates can make chickens lay spoiled eggs that don’t hatch. Incubating fresh fertile eggs will increase the possibility of the chicken eggs hatching. Avoid incubating old eggs because old eggs don’t hatch.

– Chick Pipped but Not Hatched

chicken pipping not hatching

Chicken eggs will hatch if they are fertile. Nonetheless, fertile eggs won’t always hatch if they don’t get to the pipping stage. The chicks should break the eggshell after reaching the appropriate hatching stage.

You won’t get live chicks if the embryo develops and the chick can’t break through the shell. You can break the eggs that never hatched to see whether the chick pipped but didn’t hatch.

In most cases, you will find dead chicks in such eggs. Inadequate ventilation and low humidity can make chickens pip without hatching, leaving chicks dead in the egg shells. You can avoid this chicken egg-hatching problem by maintaining the correct temperatures when incubating the eggs. For instance, you should always try setting the eggs under at least 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

– Chick Not Pipping

You can’t expect a successful hatch when a chick doesn’t pip. A fertile egg can have the right hatching conditions but fail to hatch when the chick inside doesn’t pip. Hens with vitamin D deficiency will likely lay eggs with chicks that won’t pip.

Ill breeding in hens can also make the chickens lay eggs that don’t pip during the hatching process. Improper humidity and poor ventilation can also contribute to this hatching problem. Poor air exchange in an incubator can also lead to this problem.

– Dry Egg Shell

Improper temperatures and humidity can also affect egg hatching because they can make eggs shells too dry. A chick won’t break through a dry eggshell when it gets to hatching time. That means the chick will die, and you won’t get live chicks if the eggs you are incubating have dry egg shells.

You can solve this hatching problem by providing the proper temperature and humidity levels during the hatching process. Improper humidity levels and temperatures can also affect growth and development in hatching eggs. For instance, eggs that hatch in the wrong temperatures and humidity levels will have dry shells.

– Early Hatching

baby chick early hatching

Early hatching is also a common egg-hatching problem. This problem usually occurs due to improper incubating temperatures. A hen that sits on the eggs for too long will likely hatch too early because she will be providing too much heat to the hatching eggs. The correct hatching temperature for chicken eggs should be around 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Use a thermometer in the incubator to check whether the temperatures surpass this temperature. You can lower the temperatures if they are too high to prevent early hatching. Early hatching can also occur when you are trying to hatch old eggs. Kindly try incubating fresh eggs to minimize the risk of early hatching.

– Delayed Hatching

Like early hatching, delayed hatching also contributes to poor egg hatching in chickens. Delayed hatching usually occurs when temperatures are too low. That’s why chickens that hatch during cold months are likely to hatch late because of low temperatures. Similarly, hatching eggs on an incubator with low temperatures will delay hatching.

Humidity levels can also lead to delayed hatching. For example, you will experience instances when your chicken eggs won’t hatch when the humidity levels are too low. Try controlling humidity levels and temperatures when hatching chicken eggs in an incubator.

– Weak Chick

Weak chicks can’t break through egg shells, leading to a severe egg-hatching problem. Poor nutrition makes hens lay poor-quality eggs that produce weak chicks when they hatch. Hens with vitamin E deficiency will lay poor-quality eggs that are unlikely to hatch.

Such eggs will also have weak chicks that can’t break through the egg shells and come out as live chicks. Overheating in the incubator can also suppress the quality of egg shells, making chicks weak and incapable of breaking through the egg shells after the incubation period.

You can avoid this egg-hatching problem by ensuring you hatch quality hens from hens that get adequate nutrition. Moreover, avoid incubating the chicken eggs under extremely high temperatures. Select eggs from hens without any hereditary disposition to ensure they don’t hatch into weak chicks.

newly hatched chicks

– Very Small Chick

Some eggs can be fertile and ready to hatch under proper conditions. However, the eggs could have very small chicks that can’t break through the shells. Such tiny chicks can die shortly after hatching because they are too weak.

Hens that produce very small chicks during hatching usually suffer from malnutrition because they don’t derive adequate nutrition from the foods they consume. You can solve this egg-hatching problem by ensuring your hens have proper nutrition to help them lay quality eggs that will hatch into strong chicks.

– Gasping Chick

This hatching problem is challenging even after incubating chicken eggs under proper temperatures. The eggs might hatch chicks, although the chicks will be gasping because of respiratory problems. Gasping and mouth breathing signifies that your newly hatched chicks could be dying.

The bird could be struggling to breathe when you see a newly hatched baby chick gasping. Gasping chicks are usually half-conscious. Gasping in newly hatched chicks could be due to broader pneumonia, a fungal disease that occurs when baby chicks hatch in the wrong temperatures, especially in high humidity.

– Chick Can’t Stand

baby chick can not stand

This is another common hatching problem that affects many chicken breeders and farmers. A chick can hatch successfully but be too weak to stand. Unhealthy chicks are likely to have balance issues, and that’s why they have problems standing, eating, and drinking.

These chicks will finally succumb to death. Temperature fluctuations during hatching can make chicks unable to stand after hatching. Chicks that undergo a difficult hatch can develop weak legs that make them unable to stand. Newly hatched chicks with vitamin deficiencies also have problems.

A chick with a foot or leg injury won’t stand like other chicks. Chicks with standing problems need urgent treatment to save them from dying. Excessive temperatures during incubation, especially during the last days of hatching, can lead to chicks with standing problems. Incorrect and poor parental nutrition can make hens hatch chicks with balance issues.

Furthermore, improper egg setting in the incubator and extremely low incubator temperatures can make newly hatched baby chicks develop balance problems that finally lead to death. Again, malformed chicks can develop walking problems and won’t stand for long like other baby chicks.

– Chick Genetic Disorder

Chick genetic disorder also contributes to chicken egg-hatching problems. This condition is prevalent in newly hatched baby chicks with hereditary problems. Shell faults resulting from nutritional and hereditary issues can also contribute to this condition, significantly reducing hatchability in chickens.

Incubating eggs under extremely low or high temperatures can also lead to chick genetic disorders. Try hatching eggs from hens without this condition to increase their odds of hatching.


While hatching chicken eggs will be a rewarding and exciting experience for any chicken raiser, some chicken egg-hatching problems can frustrate your egg-hatching efforts. If you are striving to hatch new baby chicks, kindly look into any issues affecting your hatching efforts.

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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