Artificial incubation is a process of keeping chicken eggs in climatically controlled incubators until hatching occurs. It is widely practiced today, and if the right conditions are established, it can be a rewarding experience for all involved.
Artificial incubation is a long and detailed procedure but, if done properly, it does have great results. As with any artificial process, there are the benefits and disadvantages of getting hatch chick incubators.
Benefits of artificial incubation
- May put in more eggs at once
- Provides a feeling of fulfillment
- You won’t expect a broody hen
Disadvantages of artificial incubation
- Can be very fruitless
- Extremely time-consuming
- Starting off is costly
Types and sizes of incubators
Incubators essentially come in two sizes, small and large. The small incubators sit on a table and usually hold only a couple of eggs at a time. Such incubators are relatively simple for the family that wants to collect a small amount of fertilized eggs at home. The success rates with the smaller incubators aren’t as high because of the fact that fewer factors are automated as in large incubators.
On the floor sits the large-scale incubators. Depending on size they can hold up to 300 eggs. Some large-scale incubators come with an integrated turner, which makes the person taking care of the eggs simpler and less time-consuming to do. Large-scale incubators also come with thermostatic sensors, making the process of regulation of the inside temperature much simpler.
Controlling the incubator airflow is very important as it helps control the inside heat and moisture.
A still-air incubator has holes placed on top and bottom. Typically these are less expensive but less stable too. The second refers to forced-air ones. These versions have a fan that circulates the air inside the incubator all the time.
Although these models are more expensive, they are more consistent too. A natural draft is the final form of air regulation, where the air follows the gravity within the incubator.
Parts of an artificial incubator
Popular Incubators Tabletop
Many tabletop incubators come with a plastic cover that makes for a clear view of what’s happening indoors. Many tabletop incubators have a rack on which to place the fertilized eggs, a heating element that controls the inside temperature, and a thermal switch to turn off and on the heat.
You will find a water tank at the bottom for moisture. Both versions have ventilating gaps. You can buy automatic egg-turners separately. If you don’t want to turn your eggs by hand every 15 to 20 minutes, invest in one of these.
Larger incubator models come with even more advanced features. Some larger models have more than one tank of water, which means less tension on the humidity. Such larger models come with a plastic hatch box, an electronic thermostat, and turning trays.
Some of these include a humidity hygrometer. Many versions have thermometers for the wet/dry bulbs. Choosing the right incubator will help to decide your budget and which choices are important to you.
Incubator positioning is very critical. There are a few considerations to take into consideration when doing so. The first is that you can never position an incubator in direct sunlight. This can cause heat and humidity variations, which is something you don’t like.
The second consideration is to keep your incubator in an area that always keeps a temperature between 70 ° and 80 °. One final consideration is to keep the incubator away from predators, especially children, pets.
Preparing the eggs for incubation
Follow any instruction that comes precisely with the incubator! A checklist to use when choosing your eggs is provided below.
- Should all be as small as possible
- Be absolutely dirt-free
- Anyway the same age
- Have shape common to the egg
- Mark all eggs on one side if you plan on turning the eggs by hand.
One special note here, don’t wash your eggs with water and soap! Shells are very porous, and the residue of the soap can block the pores that result in the embryo’s death inside.
Guidelines to follow after Artificial Incubation
Towards the Eggs
If the incubator has an automatic egg turner to skip this step and proceed to the next segment. Otherwise, the general guidelines for turning your fertilized eggs are these.
Turn the eggs around three times a day. Continue like this until three days before hatching (eggs hatch in 21 days), remove the incubator turner. Place the eggs on their sides in the tray at this time for the hatching process to start.
Temperature during Artificial Incubation
Read the came with the incubator instructions. Note that no matter what incubator type you use, temperature changes will cause death to the tiny embryo that grows within the egg. Most incubators achieve an average temperature of 99.5 ° to 102 ° C.
Moisture during Incubation
The temperature within the incubator helps to establish the amount of humidity within the incubator, which is critical for the survival of the embryo. If the humidity is too high the eggs will not evaporate moisture properly and in newly hatched chicks could cause mushy naval disease. When the temperature becomes too low, the shell is too difficult for the chick to peck and break out at hatch. Getting it right is the trickiest part of artificial incubation. The common practice among those with smaller incubators is to place a humidifier in the room where the incubator is held.
Candling is done by placing a light source in a dark area in a box to check for fertilization on an egg. This shows the embryo within the egg, and the airspace position later. For more information please follow the article How to Build a Candler.
Hitting Artificial Incubation
The entire Artificial Incubation process takes 21 days from beginning to end. Around 19 and 21 days, the chick takes the yolk through his naval, which provides the first 24 to 48 hours of the necessary food and water. Don’t over the last three days disturb the incubator. About 24 hours before hatching, you’ll hear chirping and squeaking from inside the egg.
The first stage of hatching occurs when tiny cracks form, called a star crack, at the widest part of the egg. Piping occurs when the crack contains a tiny hole. The chick makes tiny holes in the shell using an egg tooth and uses his legs to crack open the shell. Remove the shells that have just cracked immediately.
The chick comes wet into the world. Place the chicks in the bottom of the tray until dry for 18 to 48 hours. Place chick in a brooding pen after the chick has dried. Hold pen temperature at 95 ° C. The brooding pen should be held off the floor for at least 17 to 20 inches.
Artificial incubation can be a stressful process, particularly for a busy person. Time and precision in the process are extremely important. To the embryos developing inside the eggs, which is devastating to the person who worked so hard, one error can be fatal.
Anyone new to the idea of raising chickens is likely to avoid using artificial methods of incubation until they are more trained and familiar with chickens. It can be a satisfying experience though, and the rewards might be fantastic with a bit of perseverance and patience!