Whether you are running a poultry farm or want to demonstrate how eggs are incubated and hatched, or simply hatching a few eggs that your broody hen is not up to doing, you can always rely on egg incubators to do the job for you.
What are Egg Incubators?
Incubators are devices or machines used to artificially incubate fertilized eggs. That is, incubators make the eggs warm enough for the fetus to grow and eventually hatch even without the parent. There are several reasons why many resort to using incubators, among which are that they are inexpensive and practical to use: inexpensive because there are incubators that can easily be made at home or can be bought for reasonable prices, and practical (especially for large-scale egg hatching facilities) because it is by far safer and can save you time and energy.
There are three types of egg incubator. They are:
- Forced Air Incubators
- Still Air Incubators
- Conventional Incubators
These incubator types are described as follows.
1. Forced Air Incubator
The forced air incubator is one of the most common and widely-used egg incubators. It makes use of a fan to spread the warm temperature all over the egg chamber. This consequently allows a greater number and at the same time a wider size range of eggs to be incubated at the same time, as the heat is distributed evenly inside the incubator.
The usual temperature for forced air incubator is between 99-100oF and the humidity (which can be measured using a wet-bulb thermometer) between 82-88oF for setting and 94oF for hatching.
2. Convection Type
Another type of egg incubator makes use of convection. The convection type relies on ventilation holes found at the top, side and bottom of the incubator. With these holes, warm air rises and pulls in from below cool air, providing an even warming area for the eggs. However, convection type of incubators is prone to air drying, and so it is essential to carefully monitor the humidity.
On the other hand, one good thing about the convection type of egg incubator is that it is can easily be made using recycled materials at home:
- For the incubator’s housing, a box (unused cooler, cardboard, etc.) that is sturdy enough and has a cover will do. In order to help reflect the heat within the box, an aluminum foil can be used as a cover lining. For the water tray, disposable aluminum tins (like those for pies and cakes) can be used.
- Light sockets (about 25 watts or less) can be used as a source of heat.
- Ventilation holes about 1/2 inch each can easily be drilled around the corners of the box to provide the airflow.
3. Still Air Incubator
Contrary to the convection type, still air type of egg incubators has no air holes. Still air incubators are harder and trickier to use, and it requires precision to set this kind of incubator. The radiant heat warms up the air, and since the air will not be able to circulate, it is very crucial to identify the correct placement of the eggs. In addition, the setting of still air incubators have to be exact (103oF), otherwise, temperature and humidity anomalies might occur inside. Still air egg incubators need to be opened at least four times a day in order for fresh air to come in.
These three common types of egg incubator will more or less do the trick of artificially incubating your eggs. And in order to ensure successful hatching, here are some factors that need to be taken into consideration:
- Turning the egg thrice a day (at the very least) to move the embryo away from the wastes as well as to move it towards fresh food inside the egg. If you are using forced air egg incubator, experts recommend external turning devices and to refrain from turning 3 days before the eggs hatch.
- Checking the temperature and make sure that the setting is correct (settings vary according to the type of incubator you are using).
- Monitoring the humidity in order to provide sufficient moisture to the egg (again, settings vary according to the ventilation and airflow process of the incubator being used).
With these factors cautiously and carefully taken into consideration, you will definitely be assured of a successful incubation and hatching, regardless of which of the common types of egg incubator you want to use.
Hatching eggs, whether as a business or as a hobby, will rely on you and the right chicken egg incubator for its overall success. That is why getting the perfect incubator to fit your needs and specifications is detrimental to your ability to getting all of your eggs to hatch timely and healthily.
How to Choose the Right Chicken Egg Incubator for Successful Hatching
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a chicken egg incubator. If you are new to this hobby or business, then you have come to the right place. I’ll be helping you out by discussing three very important things. They are:
- Knowing how to choose the right eggs for hatching.
- Familiarizing the different components you will need to have in an ideal incubator.
- Understanding the two different kinds of chicken egg incubators.
So, before jumping on to getting to know the ideal incubator for your chicken eggs and the two types of incubators you can choose from, let’s discuss the best eggs you can pick out and invest your time to get them hatching. There are three basic rules you need to follow.
- Stick with the regular-sized. When you find eggs that are bigger than usual, don’t get excited! Large eggs usually have a poor tendency to hatch healthily. Always stick with the regular-sized ones. Similarly, skip the smaller eggs too. They tend to hatch smaller chicks. On a side note, stay away from double-yolked eggs as well. Similar to people giving birth to twins, they have high chances of experiencing complications.
- Choose eggs bred with the right compatibility. Make sure the batch of eggs you are choosing from was bred from unrelated mates. Make sure they are never inbred, such as mating a brother and sister, daughter and father, or son and mother. This usually predisposes the chicks to abnormalities, diseases, and deformities.
- Inspect the egg shells. Always make sure the eggs are clear from hairline cracks. They may seem very minute, but that will be large enough for hundreds of bacteria to go through. These germs can cause an infection within the egg and the growing embryo will die. Don’t waste your time with eggs that have cracks or very thin shells.
Now that you are able to spot good and bad eggs, let’s understand the vital features and capabilities an ideal chicken egg incubator must possess. Without one of these important capabilities, you may find it hard to hatch healthy eggs at the right time.
First of all, the thermostat should be ACCURATE. The best way of testing for an accurate thermostat is to put in two other thermometers you bought separately from the machine. Turn on the incubator and let it sit for a few minutes. After enough time, check the incubator’s thermostat and compare it with the other two thermometers. You will find it is accurate if it shows the same temperature as the other two. If there is a deviation, it should not be more than half a degree (0.5oF). If it is more than half a degree, ask for another machine or have the thermostat replaced.
The second thing you need to consider is the machine’s ability to ventilate the eggs properly. You might find this unimportant, but in reality, eggs also need oxygen. The oxygen enters the encapsulated egg through the shell. The oxygen is used for developmental purposes and the waste product of carbon dioxide is eliminated through the shell. Make sure the chicken egg incubator you are looking at has adequate holes that are less likely to be obstructed when you set it up at home. There is a type of incubator that comes with a fan, which facilitates ventilation. This will be discussed more in the later paragraphs.
The last thing you need to consider is the ability of the chicken egg incubator to maintain a consistent temperature. This is very important since fluctuation in temperature can cause the eggs to hatch prematurely or mess with their development and health. This will hold true if the temperature will maintain that change for an extended period of time. A fluctuation of half a degree (0.5oF) will be okay. However, more than that can cause problems.
Using an incubator with electronic or digital controls will be best since it offers more control and consistency. One-click of a button will be enough to correct the temperature problems. However, they may cost more.
These are the important pieces of information you need to know about when choosing the right chicken egg incubator for your hobby or business. With enough effort, you will be able to find that ideal incubator which will work wonders for your chicken eggs.