What have I learned so far?
- Humidity seems to be the key factor in successful hatches.
- Temperature is very important and too warm or too cold could kill the embryo.
- Turning the eggs must be done to ensure the eggs hatch properly.
- Sanitation is important. Clean the incubator both before and after the hatch. Sanitize the eggs and make sure they are clean prior to placing them into the incubator. Keep your hands clean when handling eggs.
To get started, first we have to obtain an incubator. From my research, I chose to get one that had a fan that would circulate the warm air evenly. You can purchase less expensive incubators, but I wanted one that I could hatch a lot of eggs if I got good at it. There are two kinds of incubators, the kind I opted for, forced-air and still-air.
- Still air incubators the temperature can fluctuate in one area of the incubator to the other. You must turn eggs manally three tmes per day, and watch the temperature.
- Forced-air incubators, a fan circulates the air around the incubator which keeps the temperature constant in all parts of the incubator. You can add an automatic egg turner to turn the eggs automatically several times a day.
As you can see there is a large price difference between the still air and forced air incubator. So, if your budget is tight, a still air incubator might be the way to go.
- Ebay offers sellers that sell hatching eggs from their chickens.
- Hatcheries sell hatching eggs that you can purchase and they will mail to you for incubation.
- A local source, some homesteaders and hobby farms sell extra eggs that could be fertile for hatching.
- A friend that has chickens, including a rooster, could give you some of their hatching eggs to incubate.
There are many reputable hatcheries where you can purchase eggs. I have never purchased eggs from my favorite hatchery, McMurray Hatchery, but they sell them and I could buy them. I have bought many, already hatched chicks from them and have always gotten healthy chicks.
I chose to try buying my first batch of eggs through Ebay. I decided to do this because I wasn't looking for breed specific chickens. I didn't want to invest a lot of money into my first eggs in case I didn't have a good hatch. I bought a dozen barnyard eggs. This means I will get twelve mixed breed chicken eggs. However, I got fourteen eggs and am very thankful for the extras.
If you know someone or know of a local farm or homestead, you can ask them for eggs to incubate. That is another inexpensive way to try hatching chicks.
Once the eggs arrive they should sit for twelve to twenty-four hours, pointy side down, before being placed in the heated incubator. Eggs should be incubated within seven to ten days after they are laid. So it is important to know that your egg source is sending you freshly laid eggs. Once the eggs are placed in the heated incubator, make sure the temperature is correct and that you do not open the lid for the first day. I read a good tip, that I will be using on my eggs. Mark each egg with a non-toxic marker, A, B, C, and D. The top, bottom and each side, so that you know the eggs are all being turned properly
- The temperature for the incubator should be 99 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The humidity in the incubator should be between 57 and 60%, increasing to 65% the last three days before the hatch.