Fertile Hatching Eggs Tips and FAQ
FERTILE HATCHING EGGS FAQ
Tips for Incubating Our Chicken Eggs
Wondering what to do once you bring your eggs home from the post office? Before unpacking your eggs, we recommend reading the FAQ section above which explains how to unpack your eggs.
There are many methods for incubating eggs. The tips listed below are our own tips based on what has worked for us when incubating at our farm. You may need to make some adjustments depending on the type of incubator you are using at the climate that you live in.
Temperature of Incubator.
The first steps in incubating eggs start before your eggs arrive. Make sure your incubator has been turned on and is running with stable temperatures for several days before your eggs arrive. The incubator temp should however around 99.5*F. Make sure you have several accurate thermometers to check the temperature in your incubator that can be viewed without opening the incubator.
We use the dry incubation/ hatch method. This means that the humidity is much lower than standard recommendations or instructions. We have had very good success with this method especially with dark marans eggs which are notoriously difficult to incubate. Make sure to have the humidity also regulated for several days before putting eggs in the incubator.
20-30% for the first 18 days
60-70% for the last 3 days
To track that your eggs are being kept at ideal humidity, they should be candled at day 7, 14 and 18 to insure the air cell is the appropriate size. As the embryo grows inside the egg, the air cell should be come larger allowing the chick enough air to breath as it begins the hatching process. A rough diagram below illustrates how large the air cell should be at respective days of candling during incubation.
If the air cell is larger than the illustration at the respective day- your humidity is too low, increase it slightly ( 5-10%) until the next time you candle. If the air cells is smaller than the illustration on the respective day- your humidity is too high- decrease the humidity slightly (5-10%) until the next time you candle.
Egg Position/ Turning.
Most have automatic egg turners these days which is fine to use. If you are hand turning, make sure to turn at least 3 times a day and only an odd number of turns per day. It is best turn hatch shipped eggs with the large end up position in an automatic turner.
On day 18 begins "lock down". This is the time to turn off your automatic egg turner (and place eggs laying flat to hatch on the floor of the incubator). You'll also want to adjust the humidity upwards to the 60-70% range to insure the hatching chicks do not get stuck to their embryo lining while hatching.
You will be tempted to open the incubator to help hatching chicks or remove chicks right after they have hatched. DO NOT. It is ideal if you can use some tubing and syringe to add additional water to the incubator so you don't even have to open the lid for this purpose. Right before chicks hatch they absorb their yolk sac which feeds them and hydrates them for 3 days after they have saved. They don't need to eat or drink during this time and can stay in the incubator.
You may be worried about recently hatched chicks knocking the unhatched eggs around if left in the incubator but this actually helps mimic how chicks hatch naturally under the mother hen. The chirping of recently hatched chicks and knocking into the unhatched eggs helps stimulant the unhatched chicks to keep working to get out of their shells.
Generally eggs will all hatch within 1-2 days of each other. After 2 days have passed and no more chicks have hatched or once all of your eggs have hatched- you may open your incubator, remove the fully dried/ fluffed up chicks and move them to their pre setup brooder.
**These instructions are in no way meant to be all inclusive or the only way to hatch chicks, they are simply the method that we have had success with at our farm.