A poor hatch can be due to parentage of the chicks

Australorp chicks

Although cute balls of
fluff can never really be a disappointment, I was unhappy when fewer
than half of the eggs I put in the incubator in February popped out of
the egg.  Any hatch rate over 75% is considered good,
but I generally aim for at least 85% (usually in the 90s).  No
matter whether you use my perfectionist math or mainstream numbers,
though, 48% is a poor hatch rate.  What happened?

We live in a trailer and
heat with a wood stove, so temperature fluctuations in the winter are
the norm rather than the exception.  Ever since we upgraded to a Brinsea Octagon 20 Advance incubator,
we haven’t had temperature-related incubator problems, but I might have
just pushed the envelope a bit too far this time around.

Second chick out of the incubatorHowever,
an analysis of my hatch spreadsheet (yes, I’m an obsessive
data-collector) suggested another possibility.  I always guess at
the mother of each egg when putting it in the incubator, and when I
autopsied the eggs that didn’t hatch on day 24, my parentage guesswork
was confirmed by feather color.  Most of the eggs with australorp
mothers hatched just fine, but every single one of the red star eggs I
put in the incubator developed nearly all the way, then perished without
even pipping.

I had hoped to instill a
bit of the laying prowess of the red stars into our main flock with this
round of eggs (who will be our new layers starting fall 2014). 
But it appears that perhaps there’s some kind of genetic issue with
mixing australorps and red stars.  Or maybe the red stars
themselves have some kind of problem, either nutritionally or
genetically, that makes them bad mothers.  Either way, I’ll be sure
to choose only australorp eggs for our next incubator round.  In
the meantime, I’ll enjoy the ten little balls of fluff who did hatch and
who are enjoying extra indoors time due to this cold spring.

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