This year is the first time that I have tried incubating eggs. Granted last year was the first year that we even raised chickens, so I guess it is the next logical step. Anyways, I was agonizing over the details and was pretty convinced after a week that none of the eggs were going to hatch because the eggs didn’t look like the pictures I was finding online! I mean from one angle it sort of looked like the picture, but I sure was not sure if I was just allowing nine eggs sit in an incubator to rot. So, I thought to myself, why not make a video and take pictures every couple of days to see how things change and how the eggs look from all angles. At which point I figured that I couldn’t possibly be the only person who was worried that their eggs didn’t look like all the pictures! But, let me start from the beginning.
The first thing I did was search Amazon and multiple blogs for hours looking at different incubators and trying to figure out what was best for me and my lifestyle. Working 10+ hour shifts as both my Mountain Husband and I do, and auto turning incubator would be the best option. There are days when we return home from wo
nd feeding the chickens and dogs is about the only thing accomplished before we fall, exhausted, into the bed, or couch, or in my Mountain Husbands case, a pile of dog beds on the floor.
The incubator that I eventually settled on is a Magic Digital Mini Automatic Egg Incubator It has a temperature control and auto turns the eggs. If fits up to twelve smaller eggs (so it fit 12 Americana eggs with dividers with no problem) but when I placed twelve eggs from our Turkens I have to remove the dividers. You have to be careful with removing the dividers because it doesn’t turn the eggs as well if they aren’t placed in the incubator in a certain direction. I’m onto my third hatch with the Turkens. The first two hatches were all Wellsummer and Americana eggs because I had a request from a friend for olive egger hens. I’ve hatched out a total of 16 chicks from 18 eggs so far.
So far I’ve only tried chicken eggs. Likely after this hatch I will try some duck eggs to see how well it works for them. With the chicken eggs I wasn’t so concerned about the humidity levels, but I know with duck eggs I will have to be more careful with this. Also, speaking of humidity, I did buy a small thermometer/humidity …….. because this incubator does not measure humidity. So far, pouring water into the lower reservoir has worked well enough, but again, I was’t too concerned with this for the chicken eggs.
When I first got the incubator I rinsed it out in the kitchen sink and dried if off, then placed it back on the fireplace/dresser that we have in our bedroom. It’s the most temperature and light controlled room of the house since we often sleep during the day. The room has its own AC unit and black out curtains, so it stays a steady 68F. I do wrap the incubator in a quilt runner that I have to provide some extra insulation to prevent temperature fluctuations.
I set the unit for 38.5 C, poured in about 100 mL of water (ours is well water treated with UV light, so I’m not too worried about bacteria/additives) and left it run for 24 hours before adding eggs. I wanted to check that both the temperature and humidity were staying steady (and the unit was operating appropriately) before adding my eggs.
I just collected eggs for a couple of days from our hens. I have a “hatching eggs” plastic carton that Mountain Hubby knows to stay out of. I use plastic so that I can wash it out after each use with dish soap and warm water – can’t be too careful! The oldest egg placed in the incubator was maybe three days old at most. They need to be stored pointy side down to keep the yolk properly suspended and the air cell in place, though they can be stored on their side, as long as they are turned a once a day. I use mine straight from the coop, so it’s important to use the cleanest eggs I can to prevent contamination from bacteria. And, of course, don’t wash the eggs – they need that protective bloom!
I had not realized this initially, but the candler that a bought is from the same company as the incubator. It’s a Magicfly Cool LED Light which has worked well so far. It is battery or plug in operated. I have mine plugged into the same power strip at the incubator which works well for me – keeps Mountain Hubby from running off with it as a flashlight.
For the first five days I don’t touch the eggs. There’s not much to see with candling according to many places I’ve looked, and the first week is the most critical period of development, so I’m not about to mess with that. This is according to Poultry Keeper (https://poultrykeeper.com) and backyardchickens.com.
I’m still learning with each hatching, and am excited every day I walk out to our coop where the older chicks have been integrated into the flock. I’m sure I’ll have lots of updates and learning experiences to share, so don’t forget to check back! Subscribe for email updates.
And look for part Two; which will show the eggs development!