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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

UNL Extension in Lancaster County

4-H Embryology

"4-H teaches science and life skills at school, home and on the Web".

When Chicks Don't Hatch:


Chicks fail to hatch for a number of reasons:

*Incubation temperature too high, too low, or too variable.

*Too little humidity in the incubator and rarely, too much.

*Some embryos are just weak and are unable to live. This is nature's "survival of the fit."

*Eggs held too long before incubation, or held in too warm and/or too dry an atmosphere.

*Insufficient turning of eggs during incubation.

Troubleshooting Resources:


Talking to Children:

Hatching from an egg isn't easy and there are a lot of things that can go wrong even as the eggs are being washed or stored before being placed in an incubator. Sometimes chicks don't survive because of the poor diet of the mother hen or because of the humidity/temperature in an incubator.

Teachers and parents should be prepared to discuss these issues with children. Keep in mind some children may have never experienced death prior to an egg failing to hatch.

Lancaster County, Nebraska
4-H Embryology Resources


Contact Information

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
in Lancaster County
Web site: lancaster.unl.edu
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A,
Lincoln, NE 68528
| 402-441-7180