When learning how to incubate chicken eggs, it’s important to realize that your methodology will be dependent on which type of incubator you use. For example, learning how to incubate chicken eggs in an automatic incubator is much easier than learning how to incubate chicken eggs in a manual incubator.
In the first, you can pretty much set it and forget it but in the second, you have to manually adjust the temperature and humidity as well as manually turn the eggs every few hours for 21 days. As you can see, you could write a book on how to incubate chicken eggs so what we want to do here is give you brief overview on incubating chicken eggs; basically Incubating Chicken Eggs 101.
Prior to Incubating Your Eggs
Before you can get started, you’ll have to decide between natural incubating and artificial incubating. If you’re doing it naturally, great: let the mother or brooding hen do all the work. If you want to do it artificially, you’ll need to buy an incubator.
If you want to hatch a smaller number of eggs, you can go with a still-air incubator which is an incubator that doesn’t have a fan. If you want to hatch a larger number of eggs or just want the most efficient incubator, go with a forced-air incubator, something experts agree on as the best way to learn how to incubate chicken eggs.
Whichever model incubator you finally wind up with, make sure that you test it out before placing any eggs inside. Your incubator should run for 48 hours at the same temperature and humidity, something it will need to do for 21 days when the eggs are actually inside.
This will help you ensure that no eggs will be harmed due to a faulty incubator that may have been harmed during shipping or transportation.
When you’re sure that your incubator is in proper working condition, place it somewhere inside where the temperature is constant and the room is properly ventilated. You don’t want a fluctuating outside temperature as it will affect the temperature you’ll need to heat the incubator to in order to keep the eggs warm.
How To Incubate Chicken Eggs
Now you’re ready to place your eggs inside the incubator. After ordering or obtaining your medium-sized, fertilized eggs from a hatchery or poultry farmers, make sure that they’re free from holes or cracks. Heat up your incubator and place the eggs into the trays inside according to your unit’s instructions.
Never place eggs pointy side up. Typically, the temperature should drop in the first few hours due to the eggs being introduced into the environment. Don’t readjust the temperature for the first 48 hours after setting the eggs.
Despite the hatching period being 21 days, you’re only going to turn them up until day 18. Turn the eggs an odd number of times per day (5 or 7) so that each night when you go to sleep, a different side of the egg is facing up for the longest. You can use a pencil to mark each side of the egg, X and O, to help you remember.
You want to maintain a steady temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit inside of forced-air incubators and 103 degrees Fahrenheit in still-air incubators (higher because the stillness of the air causes stratification which fluctuates the temperature inside the unit about 4 degrees Fahrenheit). Humidity should be kept at 58% to 60% until the eggs start hatching. At that point, raise the humidity to 65%.
Hatching the Eggs
Within 24 hours of each other, all eggs should hatch. Don’t help any chicks out of their shells even if they are struggling. They must get out on their own or they will not mature. After the eggs are all hatched, thoroughly clean your incubator and then start again!