How to Successfully Incubate Chicken Eggs

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Hatching your own eggs? Here are some tips to help you successfully incubate your own chicken eggs, and get your new chicks off to a healthy start!

Most new homesteaders start off by purchasing chicks to start a backyard flock, but if you’re bound and determined to incubate your own eggs (or you already have an established flock and can’t get your hens to go broody), there are a few things to keep in mind. By following these tips, you can help insure a successful hatching experience for your new baby chicks.

First, of course, you will need a good incubator. Once you have that taken care of, here are 5 common questions – and answers from the pros –  for a good hatching result:

How Do I Increase Incubation Humidity?

Managing humidity during incubation is extremely important to a successful hatch. If your humidity is too low, then excess moisture will be pulled from the egg, leading to reduced hatch rates.

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Pro Tip: If your humidity within your incubator is too low, even when filled with water, there are additional measures you can take to increase the humidity.

The easiest way to do this is simply by adding a (clean!) sponge to your water tray. This will increase the surface area and allow more moisture to be absorbed into the air more quickly….

How Do I Reduce the Humidity in an Incubator?

We have discussed how to raise your humidity, but what do you do when humidity is too high?…

Humidity that is too high can lead to issues during hatch, such as chicks drowning inside the eggshell….

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To quickly reduce the humidity within your incubator, open the incubator, wipe out any excess moisture, and place a container of rice inside to help pull extra moisture from the air and from your eggs….

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How Often Should I Turn Eggs?

For bird eggs, it is important that you regularly turn your eggs in order to keep the yolks from sticking, and to allow them to absorb nutrients from the albumen.

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Pro Tip: The key to manual egg turning is scheduling. Before you begin your incubation, understand the turning requirements your birds have (typically 3-4 times per day) and plan for how you will incorporate that into your current routine.

For those with jobs outside the home, we recommend turning before you leave for work in the morning, turning again once you get home, and once more before bed….

Which Way Do I Turn the Eggs?

Now that you have scheduled your egg turning intervals, you will want to pay attention to the direction that you are turning your eggs. If you are continuously turning them the same direction, the yolk sac can become twisted, and may even break or tear, causing the egg to stop developing.

Pro Tip: We recommend drawing arrows on each side of your egg, one pointing to the left, and one pointing to the right.

When you turn your eggs, always turn them the direction the arrow is pointing….

What Do I Do When Eggs Start to Hatch?

…The first instinct that many people have is to immediately remove them from the incubator into the brooder so that they can start to eat and clean up.

Pro Tip: We recommend removing dry chicks from your incubator once per day. Hatching is hard work, so allowing them time to rest and clean themselves up a bit before moving them to brooder will only help to increase their vitality….

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For more information, read the full article at MotherEarthNews.com

 

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