How to Incubate Chicken Eggs
Updated: Mar 23
Spring is the time for new life. Hens are going broody and farmers are incubating eggs. Raising your own chickens is a great way to provide for your family and it's so rewarding when you bring them into the world yourself. All you need is an incubator and accessories, and fertilized eggs that you can find from a neighbor who has a flock or at a hatchery online. A couple of places you can find incubators online are at https://incubatorwarehouse.com/ or https://www.gqfmfg.com/. Sometimes you may find incubators at a neighborhood feed store. It's easy to incubate your chicks and it can be a lot of fun as well.
Sterilize Incubator and Accessories
First, we thoroughly clean our incubators and hatchers and all the drawers, lids, tubs, and trays with a solution of bleach. Be careful when using bleach on metals, because it can cause corrosion and prevent moving parts from doing their job. Our incubators are cabinet incubators that have 3 shelves holding 2 trays each. No matter what size incubator you use it should be sterilized.
Choose the Best Eggs
Secondly, we choose our best eggs to fill our incubators. What we look for are eggs that are of normal size for the breed of chicken. Extra-large eggs don't usually produce anything, but you can try. Smaller eggs than what usually product weak chicks that grow out small. Small eggs is normal for hens that have just begun to lay. As they mature their eggs get bigger.
Choose the Cleanest Eggs
Also, we do not want any kind of manure inside our incubator, so we look for clean eggs. We don't recommend washing eggs because it removes the bloom. The bloom is nature's antibacterial sealant that covers the eggs. Unless the egg gets wet, and the bloom is washed off this will seal the egg from bacteria. The way we get clean eggs is by keeping the hen's nest clean. Whenever there's a mess in the nest, we pull it out and add clean shavings. It only takes a minute and is nice to get clean eggs.
Set the Temperature and Humidity
The incubator is set on 98.5 degrees with 55% humidity. All the equipment and tables are cleaned with bleach solution. We treat our incubator room like a nursery as far as germs and contaminates. After 18 days in an incubator, we candle them and put the good ones in the hatcher to finish the process for the next 3 days. Some people take their eggs out of the incubator every so many days to candle. I don't see a good reason for doing this unless you have a foul smell coming from the incubator then you want to find and remove it before it explodes. More than likely you have a rotten egg in that case. But it's best to leave the incubator shut unless you need to add water. We want to keep the temperature and humidity as stable as possible during the incubation process which is accomplished if the heat and humidity is not let out during the incubation period.