Table of Contents
- What is Egg Incubator?
- Incubator vs hen – which is best for hatching chicks?
- Hatching Chicks using an Incubator
- Hatching Chicks under a Broody Hen
For those of you that have chickens, ducks, chickens, and other types of birds, an egg incubator is a great investment. Ideally, an egg incubator mimics the procedure that a broody hen goes through to hatch new chicks. They usually work to keep the eggs in the right ideal environment for the development of a new chick. In fact, some hens, who are too thirsty or lack proteins in their diet, do end up eating their eggs. However, there is a way to solve the egg problem by using an egg incubator.
What’s amazing about this device is that it can protect the eggs from sudden temperature changes, and you can see the development of your chicks as well.
What is Egg Incubator?
An egg incubator is a device that can hold an egg and provide the correct temperature for the development of a new chick. Essentially, the egg incubator mimics the broody hen and she goes about her natural instinct of incubating her eggs for hatching. The egg incubator is also known as a hatchery or brooder.
An egg incubator is made from a very basic design and facilities like electricity, ventilation, and temperature control are included in it. This makes it a very handy tool to have when you raise chickens. It is some egg incubator are automated, so you can set them, forget it and come back to check on your eggs later on.
How does an egg incubator work?
An egg incubator works in a very simple way, the main purpose of this device is to maintain the right temperature, humidity, and airflow for the hatching of chicks. The egg incubator comes with different features in it, the basic features include;
Electric – allows you to control the temperature and humidity of the eggs.
Ventilation – increases airflow, better ventilation keeps eggs clean.
Temperature control – Control the temperature of the eggs.
Humidity control – controls moisture in the incubator.
The incubator has the facility to control the temperature and humidity levels inside it. These are both very important in hatching eggs. It also has the facility to control the airflow inside it. When you purchase a new egg incubator, there is usually a manual included. This manual will have instructions on how to assemble the egg incubator and what is necessary for it to function properly. The manual will also have instructions on what to do when your eggs are hatching.
The temperature should be set from 35° to 38°C, and humidity should be set from 50% to 55%. The incubator should be left in these conditions for a period of 21 days. This is the time required for a new chick to hatch from an egg.
How does the Light Egg Tester work?
In most egg incubators, there is a light tester that helps you know if your eggs are fertile or infertile. This device locates the eggs that can hatch and the eggs that can’t. You can use it to verify if your eggs have been fertilized or not.
A small reddish part with some blood vessels spreading away from it will be observable in eggs that are fertile. This is called the blastodisk and it contains an embryo that is growing. All eggs showing blood streaks or rings and clear eggs are infertile and you need to remove them from the incubator.
Can you put dirty eggs in an incubator?
It is not necessary to clean the eggs that you are planning to hatch. However, if the eggs are very dirty, you can use a soft cloth to wipe and remove surface dirt. Eggs include built-in protections within the shell that shield bacteria from entering. Washing the egg is more liable to harm these defenses than it is to help anything. If you decide to clean the eggs, you would need to make sure that you do not crack the shells. Since the embryo is inside the eggs, any cracks will be detrimental to it.
Incubator vs hen – which is best for hatching chicks?
Many people want to hatch chicks, but they ask themselves how they should do it. An incubator or a broody hen? Let’s discuss each one of these methods for you to make an informed decision.
Hatching Chicks using an Incubator
When hatching your eggs using an incubator, you need a bit of hands-on work. What’s more, you need to have an incubator, something to gauge the humidity, a thermometer, water, a power source, and a candler.
Advantages of Using an Incubator
- You can hatch the number of eggs you want.
You can hatch the number of eggs you want. Some incubators allow you to fit in any number of eggs at a time. You could have five, ten, fifteen, or even twenty eggs in there depending on the size of the incubator you bought. You can incubate as many eggs as you want at once and with the large holding capacity of the incubator, you will be able to hatch all your eggs in one go. This is beneficial because it reduces the number of times that you have to attend to your eggs and leaves you with more time to attend to other things that are more important to you.
- You control the humidity and temperature.
You can set the temperature and humidity in your incubator. This will increase the chances of hatching your eggs. Can control the humidity by setting the necessary temperature and turning on the fan. You can set the temperature to about 35° to 38°C which is the ideal temperature for a chicken egg to hatch.
- You can see your egg as it hatches.
You can see a big difference between hatching with an incubator and hatching naturally. In the incubator, you will notice that if the egg is ready to hatch and this makes it perfect for educational purposes.
- Your eggs are safe from predators
With your incubator, you will feel less concerned about the safety of your eggs. This is because you know that when it comes to safety, the incubator has got you covered. This is because you know that the eggs are safely enclosed and are not at risk of being eaten by predators.
Cons of Using an Incubator
- Incubators aren’t cheap
- If you lose power, you could lose your entire hatch
- You need to monitor the temperature and humidity very closely
Hatching Chicks under a Broody Hen
In this method, you just need two things, the eggs, and a broody hen. Still, on this method, the hen will sit on the eggs for about 21 days and the egg will hatch. Ideally, the hen will teach the chicks how to drink and easily. In addition to that, it will keep them warm and safe from predators.
Advantages of Using a Broody Hen
- The hen will act as both the brooder box and incubator. No electricity or heat lamps are required
- The hen will rotate the eggs to make sure that they spend equal time on each side while ensuring even warming
- Since broody hens plucked their feathers to allow egg-to-skin contact, the humidity will be well regulated
- Broody hens can detect non-developing and non-fertile and it can kick them out of their nest. Therefore, there will be no need to candling the eggs
- If there is only one chick that hatches, it will not be alone and it will be accompanied by her mother hen.
- The mother hen will teach the chicks how to eat, drink, and find weeds and bugs and also where it can find weeds and bugs.
Cons of Using a Broody Hen
- It can be tricky to time your hatch since you cannot force your hen to become broody.
- Some hens cannot sit for 21 days and can abandon the nest hence the chicks cannot be hatched.
- Not all hens can make good mothers after the chicks hatch. Some chickens do not have the interest to care for them while others kill chicks.
- Both the baby chicks and hatching eggs are vulnerable to predators such as snakes and rats in addition to other flock members.
When hatching chicken eggs, you can either decide to hatch naturally or use an incubator. Using an incubator makes the job much faster and easier since you don’t have to attend to your eggs too often. When using an incubator, you also know that your eggs are safe since they are enclosed and not easily accessible by predators. As added information, egg incubators can vary in price. However, the best incubator is not necessarily the most expensive one, but rather the one that best suits your purpose and budget. We hope that this article will help you as your guide to buying a good incubator.