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MM 45

Incubator Prep

by | Mar 9, 2021 | Meyer Moment

Let’s take a Meyer Moment to talk about preparing incubators for hatching. Hatching eggs is an awe-inspiring process as you create optimal conditions for life to develop and hatch. Mother hens instinctively know those optimal conditions, but education and experience are needed for us to successfully hatch. The very first step of incubation is, of course, an incubator!

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Hey everyone! Welcome back to The Coop with Meyer Hatchery – where we talk all things poultry in hopes of inspiring crazy chicken keepers and educating future flock owners. Each week we like to take a Meyer Moment to cover relevant happenings. 

Let’s take a Meyer Moment to talk about preparing incubators for hatching. Hatching eggs is an awe-inspiring process as you create optimal conditions for life to develop and hatch. Mother hens instinctively know those optimal conditions, but education and experience are needed for us to successfully hatch. The very first step of incubation is, of course, an incubator! 

The variety of incubators available on the market today are numerous and not all incubators are created equal. Egg capacity can range from 3 eggs, all the way to cabinet incubators that can hold hundreds of eggs. 

Reading reviews and buying from a trusted source is a good first step, to ensure the incubator will meet your hatching needs. Features to consider include automatic turners, automatic alarms for temperature and humidity, ease of cleaning, air circulation fans, and easy visibility to observe the hatching process. 

A clean and fully functioning incubator sets the stage for a successful hatch. Incubator parts can be cleaned and sanitized with a 1-to-10 bleach and water solution. To check that all systems are a go, the incubator can be set up and running at least 24 hours before you plan to set any eggs. This period will allow the environment inside of the incubator to stabilize and give you time to make any necessary adjustments.

The location of the incubator should also be considered. Locate your incubator in a room that maintains a constant temperature, is free from drafts, and away from windows and direct sunlight. Also, make sure that your incubator is located where children and pets will not bump or disturb it during the 21 day incubation period.

Temperature and humidity are absolutely crucial to a successful hatch. The ideal humidity for chicken eggs is 45-50% for the first 18 days and then increase humidity to 65-70% for the last 3 days. Still or forced air incubators vary in temperature but are all within a range of 95-101 degrees Fahrenheit. For the first 17 days, chicken eggs should be turned at least every 6-8 hours. 

It can be tempting to constantly candle eggs to check for development and movement. Between days 7-14 are the ideal time to check for the first signs of embryo growth. If an egg is not showing any development by day 14, it should be removed from the incubator and discarded. 

This lack of development doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong with the incubator or incubation techniques; the embryo within the egg may have died before any development could be observed. 

A common question we get is what is a good hatch rate? The reality of nature is that even when conditions are perfect, not all eggs will hatch. 100% hatch rates are possible, but the hatcher should not be discouraged with less than 100%. 40-75% hatch rate can be expected with ideal conditions. 

We hope you enjoyed this Meyer Moment about preparing your incubator and experiencing the amazing hatching process.

Enjoy the rest of your week and as always, thank you for listening to The Coop!

Hosts & Guests

Kendra + Jeff
From Meyer Hatchery

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