Artificial Incubation

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 turner.

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 incubation period.

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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