Choosing an incubator

by Elizabeth Beavis
We have had an incubator for a while now, with mixed success.  At first we did well, but more recently we only managed to hatch one little chick from 24 eggs, and he didn't survive (they find it hard if there's only one), so we decided it was time to upgrade.

The two problems with the old incubator was that it was manual turn, so we had to remember to turn the eggs and even though you're supposed to turn them several times a day, when we're at work it would only get done twice a day (if we remembered).  The other problem was the humidity.  Correct humidity levels are critical for successful hatching, but we didn't have any method of measuring humidity, so we were only guessing at how much water was required to maintain the humidity.

As we want to raise some more chickens, we decided to buy a new incubator.  This one has automatic turn AND has a humidity sensor, so we hope this will help us hatch more successfully.  We've loaded it up with all the eggs from the chickens while we were away for Christmas and will share with you the progress of the hatching and rearing process.

New incubator with humidity sensor and auto-turn
For those not familiar with the incubation process, all we do is collect fertile eggs and keep them in an egg carton until we have enough to fill the incubator (in this case its 48 eggs) as its best if they all hatch together.  As we collect the eggs we mark them with the date and the rooster so we can start to find out which roosters are fertile.  When we have enough eggs we load up the incubator, put some water in the tray at the bottom (to create humidity) and turn it on.  This incubator does the rest for us.  With our previous incubator we had to make sure that the temperature was set at 38 degC and turn the eggs 2-3 times a day.  After 21 days or so, we should start to see the chicks hatching, then we can move them into a brooder box with a light bulb to keep them warm enough.

Eggs in the incubator (the turner is at the back)
Read more about what we've learnt about incubating chicken eggs here.  Do you have any tips to share?

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