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?
Egg incubators are devices or machines used to artificially incubate fertilized eggs. That is, incubators make the eggs warm enough for the embryos to grow and eventually hatch even without the mother hen. There are several reasons why many people resort to using incubators, among which are that they are inexpensive and practical to use. Inexpensive because there are egg 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.
Types of Egg Incubators
There are three types of egg incubators. They are:
- Forced-Air Incubator
- Still-Air Incubator
- Conventional Incubator
These incubator types are described as follows.
1. Forced-Air Incubator
The forced-air egg incubator is one of the most common and widely used egg incubators. It makes use of a fan to spread the warm air 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 egg incubators is between 99-100oF, 82-88oF for egg setting and 94oF for hatching.
2. Still-Air Egg Incubator
Contrary to the forced-air incubator, the still-air egg type of egg incubator 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 has to be exact (103oF), otherwise, temperature and humidity anomalies might occur inside. Besides, still-air egg incubators need to be opened at least four times a day in order for fresh air to come in.
The Best Still-Air Egg Incubator on Amazon is the Farm Innovators Model 2100 Still Air Incubator.
3. Convectional Incubator
Another type of egg incubator makes use of convection. The convectional incubator 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, convectional egg incubators are prone to air drying, and so it is essential to carefully monitor the humidity.
On the other hand, one good thing about the convectional egg incubator is that it can easily be made using recycled materials at home.
How to Build a Convectional Homemade Egg Incubator
To build a homemade incubator, follow the steps below.
- 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, 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 heater.
- Ventilation holes about 1/2 inch each can easily be drilled around the corners of the box to provide airflow.
These three common types of egg incubators will more or less do the trick of artificially incubating your fertile eggs.
How to Achieve a Successful Incubation and High Hatching Success
In order to ensure successful hatching, here are some factors that need to be taken into consideration:
- Turn 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 a forced-air egg incubator, experts recommend external turning devices and refrain from turning three (3) days before the eggs hatch.
- Check the temperature setting and make sure that the setting is correct (settings vary according to the type of incubator you are using).
- Monitor 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 the type 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 get all of your eggs to hatch timely and healthily. Read how to choose the right egg incubators. You can also read the best egg incubators for chicken and other poultry birds here.