Guide to Hatching Eggs – How to Hatch Fertile Hatching Eggs
By Darren Davis
Hatching eggs can be a rewarding experience for poultry hobbyists, science classes and 4-H club members. Most eggs hatched today are artificially incubated, requiring a person to monitor the environment inside an incubator to ensure that eggs receive the correct heat, air and moisture to hatch successfully. Keep in mind that no incubator is 100 percent effective. Plan for a 5-10 percent post-hatch loss for your flock as it grows to maturity and order a few extra eggs. An incubator that employs good management of the temperature, humidity, egg turning, and ventilation can expect a 50 percent (very low) to 85 percent (high) hatching rate.
Before handling hatching eggs, it is a good practice to wash and thoroughly dry your hands to prevent the spread of bacteria. For disease prevention and health reasons, it’s best to get all the eggs from one source. If you get your eggs locally but cannot get the number you want in one day, try to not hold the eggs longer than three days prior to setting to hatch.
Bring the incubator up to a working temperature check your owner’s manual. Once the temperature has stabilized, allow any stored hatching eggs to warm gradually to room temperature before putting them in the incubator.
Care needs to be given to ventilation, temperature and humidity. You must remember that the growing chicks are living organism that exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide through the shell during the incubation process. To help the incubator control the egg environment, keep it in a room free from drafts, where the room temperature remains constant. Humidity is monitored and aided by the addition of water to the incubator depending on the species hatching.
Hatching eggs must be turned while in the incubator to prevent the embryo from sticking to the shell. If your incubator is not equipped with the optional mechanical turner, you must turn them by hand.
Each species of poultry need different incubation times. Quail take a shorter time than ducks and geese.
Once the eggs begin to hatch the baby chicks will need to have a place to go for their care – this should be set-up ahead of time.
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