has many years experience in most aspects of incubation and
rearing. We can also offer practical advice along with a full customer servicewith every incubator sold.
*First of all, don't expect all
the eggs to hatch perfectly.
They will need to have been produced from good quality, healthy
and virile birds.*
Don't use any cockerel without a proven genetic background. This
means that if you want to breed future egg producing pullets then
the cockerel must come from a dam (female parent) who has a good
record for egg production etc. Don't use old cockerels for
breeding - they lose fertility the older they get. Cockerels will
provide the best hatching results and subsequent rearing if mated
with during their first two seasons (after which fertility and
hatchability starts to reduce quite rapidly). Select young healthy virile birds for best
results. It is better that young cockerels run with two or three
old hens during final development. After which, when introduced to
a new flock they will not only be very confident, but also
experienced. This means that 14 days after their introduction, the
eggs can be collected and saved for hatching.
Breeding Birds Make sure that the birds you wish
to hatch eggs from are fed on top quality
layers poultry feed (if a breeders ration is impossible to
buy). The feeding of this
ration should commence at least six weeks before the first eggs
are collected for hatching. If an ordinary ration is to be used, then provide
a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement such as
in their water during the
all the eggs that are laid.
Only select eggs which are the right colour, within the correct
weight for breed type, and especially well shaped with
have a good quality, strong shell. * Remember to
also keep the nest boxes clean at all times and to wash your hands
before and after egg collections.*
birds whilst collecting eggs. If
a breeding hen needs inspecting then do this
after the eggs have be collected
and stored. If the eggs need to be washed, then this should be carried out
using water at blood temperature,
adding a strong disinfectant to it such as
Biolink Liquid Egg Wash. Immediately rinse the eggs off under cold running
water and then allow them to dry out naturally in a wire
basket or on the kitchen draining board.
seteggs the same day they are laid. Allow them to cool over night. Eggs may be kept for up
to 14 days before setting in the
incubator. Eggs kept for hatching should
be stored at temperatures between
12.7°C - 18.5°C ( 55°F - 65°F ). If they are kept
at temperatures exceeding 21°C ( 70°F ) for more than 10
to 12 hours,
they will start to incubate and then die off because of
insufficient heat. The outcome to the naked eye will be that
they will test as infertile.
eggs just once a day. Collect
them 2 to 3 times each day to ensure they are clean and able to
cool off quickly. Cold eggs kept in storage should not be placed in the
incubator as soon as they have been taken from storage. Take
them out 8 hours earlier and place them next to the incubator to
bring them up to room temperature.
Don't place the incubator in a spare room or outhouse without
adequate ventilation and heating. An Incubator room should be warm. i.e.
18.3°C to 21°C ( 65°F to 70°F ).
make sure that
the incubator room is secure and not too large.
No other animals should be
allowed in the incubator room to prevent the possible risk of
cross infection. Place the incubator as far away as possible from the
place the incubator near the door, against the wall or in
front of the window and keep the door shut at all times. The incubator should be placed so that it has the
benefit of an
even controlled temperature. Hang an incubation chart near the incubator
and record the incubator temperature as well as room temperature. Also record
how much water is added to the incubator and how often, plus the
amount of fertile eggs hatched as well as those dead in the
shell. Also seal and paint all the porous surfaces in the room
so that it is easy to wash and sterilise.
Incubators and Hatchers * Don't select your incubator on price alone.
* Proven quality, together with a good back up service of spares and
experienced advice more than compensates for the many price
On the other hand, don't be tempted into buying a cheap second hand incubator until
you are sure that essential spares can still be easily purchased.
Too many second hand incubators that are purchased at sales and auctions are made by manufacturers that have long since ceased
trading - and spares are impossible to buy.
Don't be tempted to buy incubators which boast an 'all in one'
Incubators in which you can set eggs in every week or fortnight
while hatching out in a hatching tray at the bottom will give poor
No future setting eggs should be kept in the incubator room
while hatching is taking place.
Eggs from the 18th day (or four days before they are due to hatch)
will normally require a little extra humidity, and certainly a great deal of humidity will be given off during hatching,
adversely affecting the other younger eggs. More importantly is
the fact that the amount of chick 'down' given off will block the
shell pores of the other eggs and any harmful bacteria present
will be able to multiply unhindered with a detrimental knock on
effect of reducing the hatchability of each successive hatch.
It is also very important that the incubator is scrupulously
cleaned and disinfected between each batch.
Those with larger incubators which enable them to set eggs each
week or fortnight will be well advised to buy a cheap, yet capable
incubator to use only as a Hatcher. In this way all the
requirements of good hygiene can be encompassed.
Never use an incubator that has not been cleaned or sterilised.
Always heat up the incubator at least 48 hours before it is
required. By doing so, the temperature reading can be monitored
and altered if necessary (as well as ensuring the correct
temperature remains constant and does not fluctuate). The correct
internal temperature will vary according to the design or type of
incubator (this will be given in the instructions). Make a note of
this on the wall of the incubator room, or if possible indelibly
mark it on the incubator. The given temperature will be different for each species - i.e.
bantams eggs can be incubated at half a degree less than hen eggs.
All 'still-air' incubators are those with only one layer of eggs.
For more than one layer, a fan will be included to force the air
to circulate, thus providing an even temperature throughout. There are
one or two incubators on the market which have only one egg tray,
but because their design, a fan is also included. In general
though, still air incubators have to be run at higher temperatures
than 'forced draft' incubators (even with the newer incubators
that occasionally move the eggs around so that the eggs on the
outside move to the centre, or bottom trays move to the top).
One or two chicks may hatch out a day earlier than the majority.
Don't take them out, as the Incubator lid must not be opened until
the hatch is complete. Once the incubator lid or door is opened,
the internal environment will alter and considerably reduce the chances of the rest of the eggs hatching out successfully.
18th day (for bantam and hen eggs) remove all the eggs and test
them for infertility with a
Candling Lamp (Candler). This involves shining a
bright light through each egg. Those which remain black with a
large egg space at the top, put back in to the incubator, and
remove the ones that the light shines through. This will then give you a better idea of the possible hatching
count the 21 days of incubation, don't count the first day, and
take the hatch off on the morning or evening of the 22nd day.
Taking the incubator hatch off in the morning is better
than during the evening, as it gives the chicks a whole day to
drink and feed before settling down for the night. The
chicks whose hatches have been removed in the evening (even though
the light may be left on all night for them to drink and
feed) tend to settle down immediately they are under the brooder
and so lose valuable time getting started.
Don't take the chicks out of a warm room and put them out into
a cold environment (even though the overhead brooder may be
the right temperature). Chicks will chill very easily during the
first 48 hours which will be evident from those running around
with dirty bottoms - after 3 or 4 days many of
which will subsequently die.
Don't on the completion of the hatch help any chicks struggling to
get out of their shells. They are already weakened and are not
healthy stock, so don't sacrifice the good in the hope of
increasing numbers. Kill these quickly and humanely by pressing
their necks with your thumb over the edge of a table or wooden box
- dislocating the neck vertebrae.
Sterilisation Between Batches
After the completion of each hatch,
wash out and sterilise the incubator using a good quality
incubator disinfectant such as the
Chicktec Hatchery Sanitiser (right) and also thoroughly clean out the incubator
Sterilise hatching eggs just before they are placed in the
incubator using a good strong disinfectant such as
Poultry Shield or
Biolink Liquid Egg Wash. (right). These can then be used when the
fertile eggs are replaced on the eighteenth day
after candling without any harmful affect.
Don't leave old egg shells or other waste from the preceding hatch
in the incubator. This should be removed immediately the chicks
have been taken out and placed under the brooder. Bag and seal all
the rubbish and dispose of it in an outside bin ready for
Only Hatch from Good Quality
quality eggs are those which have strong shells and are uniform in
size, shape and colour. Poor quality eggs are difficult to hatch -
such as those that are porous and weak and may result in breakages
during the period of incubation. Even if some of them do hatch,
it's almost certain that you will not wish to breed from progeny
which may produce even more poor quality shelled eggs as well as
weak chicks. It is well worth the extra time to select and save
only the best eggs from your healthiest laying birds, and not
because they may be laid by exhibition type birds.
Eggs should not be too large or too small.
standards would possibly place them in the upper-sized 'medium to
large' range. Similarly use a satisfactory size associated with
smaller breeds of bantams.
set dirty eggs. Eggs can be easily and safely cleaned in the
following manner: Place all
dirty eggs in a bowl of warm water (blood temperature), having
already added a disinfectant to the water. One of the best solutions is
Vanodine V18, although
Poultry Shield is proving
a very good alternative. Wash the eggs quickly with your bare or
gloved hands. Never use cleaning cloths as they carry
Place the washed eggs on a cold draining board to cool and dry. When they are dry, store the eggs in a cool room with a
temperature of no more than 15.5°C ( 80°F ).
When the eggs are set in the incubator, never count the first day
as it will take at least 8 to 12 hours before
the centre of the egg has reached a high enough temperature for germination
to begin. At the other end, remove all the chicks
on the morning of the 22nd day.