Posted by californiahatchery.com on 2/22/2019 to Raising Backyard Chickens
Hatching your own eggs can be an exciting and satisfying experience as you watch young chicks arrive after careful planning and preparation. However, in order to have the best chance at successfully hatching your chicken hatching eggs or duck hatching eggs, you may consider some tips such as proper incubator temperature guidelines, egg incubation duration, and quality of your hatching eggs. Chicken hatching eggs will usually hatch twenty-one (21) days after incubation, depending on the breed variety, while duck hatching eggs will take at least twenty-eight (28) days to hatch after incubation.
Incubator Temperature, Humidity, and Ventilation
First, allow your hatching eggs to set to room temperature before placing them in your incubator. Next, slowly raise your incubator temperature to 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature change will need to occur slowly over the course of a few hours, as immediate change in temperature can cause humidity problems that will reduce hatch-ability. It will help if your incubator is setup in a well insulated area, so that short changes in temperature won't affect the viability of your hatching eggs. Even small fluctuations in temperature can decrease your chances for successfully hatching your eggs. Additionally, you will need to ensure adequate humidity within your egg incubator, roughly fifty (50) percent humidity for the first seventeen (17) days, and about seventy (70) percent humidity the last three (3) days before hatching.Humidity set too high during the first seventeen (17) days, and set too low during the last three (3) days is one of the most common causes of a poor hatch rate. Your hatching eggs will also need to be setup in an incubator that has adequate ventilation, as the embryos will need fresh air circulation at all times. Many incubators have a built in fan to maintain ventilation, and depending on your incubation settings your may opt to purchase an incubator with this feature.
Turning Hatching Eggs
You will need to turn your hatching eggs two to five times daily for optimal hatch-ability, however, you will need to be delicate when turning them, as the embryos are developing blood vessels and are sensitive to movement. Do not turn your eggs the final three days of incubation as your embryos are getting ready to hatch. If you are planning to turn your hatching eggs by hand, it may be helpful to the top and bottom of each egg to keep track of them. Alternatively, your can purchase an egg turner to automatically turn your eggs for you, just make sure to turn off this feature the final three days before hatching.
Incubator Thermostat Features
While all incubators have a thermostat, not all have a hygrometer which measures humidity. We recommend ordering a thermostat that includes a hygrometer as adequate humidity control is absolutely essential to successfully hatch your eggs. Environmental humidity can change after a rainstorm or natural humidity changes if you live in a humid State, depending on the season, which will affect your hatch rate. It is important to use a hygrometer especially if your incubator is located in an environment with poor insulation as your eggs will be more sensitive to natural humidity changes.
On hatch day (21 days for chicks, 28 days for ducklings), wait for your chicks to exit their shells on their own, even if they have pecked out just a small portion of the egg. Removing them too early is not recommended as they may need an hour or more longer in the stable environment within their egg. However, if your hatch day has come and one of your chicks has pecked out some of their egg but remained for longer than a day, it is usually safe to help them exit their eggs if your hear them chirping.
As soon as your chicks have exited their shells, make sure to provide them with a safe environment, free from temperature drafts, and have plenty of fresh water and chick starter feed available for them. Additionally, we recommend providing sugar water to your chicks immediately to help energize them.
Please feel free to comment below to share your experience hatching eggs!