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    Monday, October 2, 2017

    How to Hatch chicken eggs


    How to Hatch chicken eggs is a troubling question to many chicken and Cock lovers.It can also be a very rewarding experience as the cute hatched chicks can be very cute;they'd melt your heart(awwww) and many farming beginners are buying incubators since they have become farmore affordable over the last few years and works great!. The main manufacturers of incubators in the market seem to be R-COM and Brinsea Incubators and both produce an excellent range that can accommodate 20 to 25 chicken eggs, perfect for the beginner to hatch their own eggs!

    Before you begin, please read on How to Hatch Eggs

    Before you incubate and raise baby chicks, you should remember that you are most likely to end up with a ratio of half male and half female baby chicks. Unless ofcourse you are hatching an auto-sexing breed (where markings or colour of the chicks comes in different colours) or have crossed two birds that give a sex-linked chick (again, different down colour or markings) then you will need to think ahead  to when the young growers can be sexed around 8 weeks of age and consider what you will do with the excess of male birds. Sadly, they are very hard to re-home, everyone has the same problem: too many boys unless of of course you plan on keeping them for food.

    Choice of incubator


    The R-Com Suro is an incubator that uses forced air to controls both temperature and humidity.There are basicially two types of incubator –still air and forced air. The big difference between the two is the forced air incubator uses a fan which circulates the air inside. When you measure the temperature,it should be the same throughout(The temperature at the beginning mustbe the same with the end). The still air incubator has a temperature gradient inside so the hotter air rises to the top and there can beseveral degrees difference between top and bottom. For the average beginner wanting to increase the size of their flock, a forced airincubator is in my opinion the best choice. If you can afford a model that has automatic humidity control then you should have far more success than setting and maintaining the humidity control on a manual unit.


    Incubating Chickens Eggs

    Chickens eggs have a 21 day incubation period (isn’t that amazing? Egg to chick hatchlings in just 3 weeks!) and require a constant temperature of 37.5°C. Eggs will start to produce their own heat in the latter stages of development but the incubator thermostat takes care of this, keeping the temperature the same throughout the
    incubation period. Humidity should ideally be between 45 and 50%. Eggs need turning regularly by 180 degrees (you will need to do this yourself if the incubator doesn’t have an automatic turning mechanism). Expect 50% to 75% of your eggs to hatch, not all eggs will be fertile.

    Hatching Chicken Eggs


    Eggs need to be fertile so a cockerel needs to be mating with the hens for a few weeks before eggs are taken for hatching. If you have a cockerel, you can collect your own hatching eggs from your own chickens. Try to pick good looking ‘egg shaped’ eggs as this will help the chicks form and hatch correctly just as mother nature intended. Keep nest boxes clean and don’t set any soiled eggs. If you don’t have a cockerel or would like a different breed, there are many hatching eggs for sale online on sites such as eBay but keep in mind that just
    about anyone and everyone sells eggs so birds vary in quality between sellers. Hatching eggs travelling through the postal system can be damaged internally and either not develop or die before they hatch.These are often called "dead in shell".

    Incubation tips:


    Sterilise your incubator with an incubation disinfectant (in the absence of one,use warm soap and water) before you put your eggs into any incubator. This will kill 99.9% of bacteria that multiply rapidly in the warm temperature of the incubator..Then Plug in your incubator and make sure the temperature is steady at 37.5°C. Always leave it to run overnight to settle before putting eggs in.Keep water reservoirs(a homemade one or factory made) topped up so that adequate humidity can be maintained at all times...Now to step 3,Candle eggs before putting them into the incubator.Cracked or damaged eggs do not hatch and should be removed aftercandling (see below for more information on candling).


    Candling an egg

    The fertility of eggs cannot be determined before incubating them. Itis easiest to see development of the embryo after a week. The most critical period of incubation is the first week so if you do decide to candle your eggs before a week then be very careful with them and do not overheat them or burn them. Eggs with blood rings, cloudy eggs or infertile eggs (clear eggs) should be removed when detected. The photo to the right shows an egg that was candled after 8 days. If you can’t see much, do this in the dark. It may also help to tip the egg gentlyfrom side to side so you can see the inside of the egg moving and see what are patches on the egg shell and what is inside. The developing spider like veins and a small dark embryo can be seen. If you look carefully and have a bit of luck with the positioning of the embryo, you can often see a small heart beating away. I usually candle after 7days and again at around 14 days.



    The Air Sack


    An Air Sack is formed at the broad end of the egg shortly after an egg is laid. There is a membrane between this and where the chick is developing. When candling periodically through the incubation period, this is the best method of judging normal development and you will see this increase in size up until the point that the chick breaks through into this air sack.

    The Hatch


    A chick will usually ‘pip’ the shell a few hours after breaking into the air sack so she can breathe but a full hatch can take 12 or more hours from this point so be patient.If humidity has been set too high during the incubation period, the chick may pip the shell underneath the shell and drown in the fluids before he can get his beak out of the shell. If the humidity has been too low, the air sack will be too large and the chick will be under-developed  and may become stuck to the shell, too weak to break free. If a chick has pipped but does not make any progress, wait 12 hours, then consider breaking the top part of the shell away (but no more…) Some say do not help weak chicks as you are breeding weakness into your flock but there are many reasons why eggs don’t hatch. If it is a humidity problem like this or the line is particularly in-bred (often found with exhibition strains) then a little help can usually be given without detrimental effect.

    And finally…

    Never remove hatched chicks until they are fully dried out;if you remove a wet chick,they might get infected with airborne disease orwhen mishandled could lead to death. Chicks do not need to eat for 24hours. This is why they can be shipped around commercially as ‘day old chicks’.
    Good luck with your hatch!

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    Do you have any tips on how to hatch chicken eggs ? Feel free to share them below Using the comment box!

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