4 Steps to Incubate Chicken Eggs
By Leo Eigenberg
An egg incubator is a useful tool built to speed up the process of hatching eggs. It is a practical piece of equipment to hatch many types of eggs. But it is most commonly used to hatch chicken eggs. Other eggs that can be hatched include ducks, quails, ostriches, or even penguins. Here are four steps to incubating chicken eggs:
Set up an Incubator
The egg incubator is a simple to use a piece of equipment and varies in quality from the DIY or hobbyist set-up to hold up to six eggs to the commercial-scale set-up with space to accept hundreds of eggs. Many of the incubators include a built-in fan, which helps to regulate temperature and keep the air moving.
There are several essential points to consider in the process of setting up the egg incubator, including:
Humidity – the preferred humidity range is 40-50% for the first 18 days, which is reduced to 65-75% for the remaining time until the chick is ready to hatch.
Temperature – for the most reliable results it is essential to keep the incubator at a stable temperate of 99.5° for the entire duration. Any change in the temperate can result in the chicks not hatching.
Ventilation – the chicken embryo needs fresh air to breathe so it is important the incubator has vents or holes to permit the circulation of air.
The preferred placement is in an area that isn’t likely to experience much in the way of humidity or temperature fluctuations, so a spot in the basement is ideal.
Source fertile eggs
The fertile eggs are easily sourced from a local farmer who is willing to sell the eggs. Other options include certain feed stores that have a supply of eggs available in the spring, while online sources are a great option. Eggs can be sent in the post in a cooled state to make sure they are still fertile on arrival.
The general incubation period is a total of 21 days. Before placing the fertile eggs in the incubator make sure it has reached the desired humidity and temperature range. Once the eggs are placed inside it is just a case of maintaining the optimal environment. Regular checks are essential to reduce the chance of things going wrong. It helps to include water often to help keep up the humidity level. Plus, frequent turning of the eggs is needed, and should take place every other day.
After the 21 days have expired the chicks should start to break through the shell and take their first breath. Avoid handling the chicks or attempting to speed up the process because this is more likely to cause harm. Once fully hatched, they can be left in the incubator until fully dry. After this time it is possible to relocate to a brooder where the chicks remain for the next few weeks.
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