Practical Tips for a Successful hatch
It dosent matter whether your new to incubation or been keeping chickens for years the moment a chick hatches from its shell is still a magical event.The following tips high lights some practical tips for many successful hatches.
A broody hen is for most of us the first type of hatching we are likely to experience and will happily hatch eggs that are not her own. The problem arises when there is not a broody hen available to hatch the eggs you have to incubate. This is where a well designed small incubator is worth its weight in gold, the size depends on the number of eggs you wish to incubate at any one time. Anything from ten eggs to several hundreds there is an incubator to cater to eveyones needs.
Before you start shopping around for an incubator there are a number of things to consider. Essentially an incubator is an insulated box that can provide a constant optimum temperature and humidity setting. Its also needs to ensure there is sufficent ventilation for the eggs to develop. With an array of different sizes and models of incubators available, often made from timber, plastic and or polystriene it is a good idea to be aware of the factors required for a succesfull hatch.
1. Ensure your eggs are from good quality healthy stock, easily done if your hatching your own eggs. Select only the best birds that are true to type and breed, If you have more than one cockerel it is essential to keep the selected birds seperate for at least three weeks before incubating the eggs to avoid random matings. The selected birds should be fed on breeders ration (see my feeding guide) to ensure they pass the correct level of vitamins and minerals to the egg and therefore the chicks.
2. Fertile eggs are essential, those where fertility or age is unknown are best disgarded. Eggs can be stored in a cool enviroment for a week prior to setting a hatch but the fertility will decline and best results are achieve when setting eggs at two or five days after laying.
3. Clean well formed eggs are the best to incubate wiping or lightly washing the eggs in a mild solution of water and baby sterilisng fluid or baby wipes is ideal. The solution must be warm to the touch and never immerse the eggs in the water completely.
4. Buying a good quality incubator that matches your requirements is only the start. Good hygiene is essential always clean and disinfect the incubator before and after every hatch. Turning you incubator on at least 24hrs before you set the eggs will give you chance to set the temperature and guage the humidity, Now is the time to familarise your self with the controls and features of your chosen machine as once the eggs are set you want to keep disturbance to a minimum.
5. Chosing an automated incubator will cost more but will take less of your time and ultimately help improve upon the hatch rate of your eggs. Always select autoturn as turing the eggs twice daily by hand can take a lot of planning also a fan assisted model will provide better ventilation and a more conatant temperature throughout the incubator.
6. Place your incubator in a room that is little used and has a optimum temperture of 24c and a humidity of 60% most centrally heated rooms would run at this average temperature a spare bedroom would be ideal. With an average of 21 days to hatch a hens egg you want to be sure you will not need to move the incubator during this peroid. Once you find a spot that gets a good hatch rate stick with it.