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The eggs will take between 2.5 and 4 weeks to hatch, depending on the species. The larger the bird, the longer the incubation, generally speaking. Clutches vary in size from two to six, and the female lays one a day. Incubators for egg-hatching are not essential kit for a breeder, but many do use them.
Eggs sometimes fail to hatch. There are various reasons why this might have happened:
- Females sometimes lay eggs when there are no males to fertilise them
- A female may lay unfertilised eggs if the male has failed to achieve a successful coupling
- Single eggs may fail to hatch, due to a chick failing to develop properly inside, or because the egg itself somehow managed to avoid being fertilised
- The hen may neglect her eggs due to inexperience or stress – this is quite common in first-time layers
- If the nestbox isn’t a suitable size and shape the egg may have fallen to the floor and killed the embryo inside
- The male bird could be infertile
- The proximity of other birds or external distractions may be the issue – the female may be too stressed to sit on her eggs
- Nutrition is important – if eggs fail to hatch due to soft shells, it’s a sign that the hen didn’t get enough calcium (from cuttlefish bone or a mineral block, for example) when she was producing the eggs.