Before I begin, I would
like everyone to remember that bringing any animal into the world
is a big commitment. Please do not run out and buy an incubator
and some eggs to hatch without considering the consequences. The chicks that are hatched will need brooding, feeding, watering, and
a lot of care. They will also need a place to live as they grow, (a brooder, a cage, a pen, or a coop), depending on the species decided on. Please be sure that you want to raise,and have a place to keep, the species you intend to incubate.
This page is geared
toward the novice.
The artificial incubation
of fertile eggs is a very educational and exciting experience. It
is as much an art as it is a science. Anyone can incubate
fertile eggs with some degree of success if they follow the
directions carefully for their incubator of choice. Several
factors must be considered to accomplish a successful hatch. I
will try to shed some light on this procedure.
An Incubator is a device
which has a controlled heat, moisture, and air exchange
environment. They come in many shapes and sizes, are made from
many different materials, and can even be constructed by an individual as a project.
There are "still
air" and "fan forced" models, each with a
different set of operating instructions. Always follow the
directions carefully for your particular incubator.
Most incubators can be
fitted with an egg turning device to save the operator from the task of
manually turning the eggs by hand several times a day. This is
highly recommended and will be discussed later.
First it should be decided what
brand of incubator best meets your needs and whether you
will purchase an egg turner with it. Incubators are included in
many poultry supply catalogs. There will be descriptions of their
capacities and the mode of their operation (still air or fan
forced). I have used both with good results but prefer the fan
forced. I like the fact that it maintains a preset temperature
throughout the entire incubator. I also like the addition of an egg
After receiving the
incubator, it should be set up according to directions and
monitored for several hours to make sure it remains within the
specified temperature range. If all has gone well so far it is
time to decide on the species of fowl you would like to raise.
The next step in the process of
incubation is the eggs. The eggs of any species must be fertile
and relatively fresh to develop.
There are many suppliers
of hatching eggs. They can be found in poultry publications, game
bird publications, and even on the internet. Although no supplier
can guarantee the hatch rate of shipped eggs, you should usually
have fairly good results.
Here is a list of a few
species and the average days of incubation until hatch.
Chicken - - - - - - - - - - -21 days
Turkey - - - - - - - - - - - -28 days
Ducks - - - - - - - - - - - - 28 days
Geese - - - - - - - - - - 29-31 days
Guineas - - - - - - - - - -26-28 days
Ringneck Pheasant - - - - - - 24 days
Bobwhite quail - - - - - - - 23 days
Peafowl- - - - - - - - - - - 28 days
Follow the directions
carefully for your particular incubator throughout the
The eggs will have to be
turned at least 3 times a day. This is accomplished by rolling
the eggs gently with the palm of your hand if you have not
purchased an egg turner. Some people mark their eggs with a
pencil, putting an X on one side and an O on the other. Each time
they turn the eggs all the Os or all the Xs will be up.
Personally I have egg turners in all of my incubators and believe
is be well worth the additional expense.
The water troughs inside the incubatro must be filled regularly. It is advisable to use bottled distilled water. City tap water and well water have impurities which may be released into the incubator as the water evaporates, to maintain humidity, and causes a decline in hatch rates.
The temperature should be
checked regularly to make sure it is remaining stable.
The humidity should be
increased, usually by filling an additional trough with water,
two days before the hatch date of your eggs. The temperature may
be dropped by 1 degree at this time also.
I am sure you will be
thrilled when the first egg hatches and you have several new
chicks drying in your incubator.
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