Hatching eggs is not a difficult or complex procedure. The best way to hatch a chicken egg is to let it happen naturally. In this natural process known as setting, a broody hen sits on eggs for days in order to keep them warm until they are ready to hatch.
In the absence of a hen at home, you can use an egg incubator to do job of a mother hen. The incubator helps maintain the warmth of the chicken eggs and thereby helps the embryo develop.
Egg Incubators: The Two Types
There are mainly two types of egg incubators and you have to select one according to the quantity of eggs you want to hatch. Forced-air incubator are more suitable if you plan to hatch a large number of eggs. These will automatically disperse air around the eggs so that the temperature is spread evenly. Alternatively, you can use a still-air incubator for incubating a smaller number of eggs. Some beginners comment that these are a little more tricky to set up as the air must be at the correct temperature at all times and all eggs placed inside them must be the same size.
Obtaining and Inspecting Eggs for Hatching
If you are considering hatching eggs with an incubator, there are some basic steps you must follow to ensure success. The first thing you have to do is to collect some healthy fertilized chicken eggs. The eggs available at grocery shops and supermarkets may not be fertile and adequate for hatching. Obtain hatching eggs directly from a hatchery or from a poultry farm.
Medium-sized eggs are the most appropriate ones for hatching and hence choose only those eggs that are not too big or too small. Also, be careful to select clean and well-shaped eggs without any cracks or holes.
The Hatching Process
Place the incubator in a properly ventilated area and away from direct sunlight. It is also important to check beforehand that the temperature and humidity remain steady inside the incubator. The optimal room temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius.
The embryo inside the egg needs warmth to develop and grow into a chick. In a forced-air incubator, the temperature should be maintained at around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature inside a still-air incubator should be about 102 degrees Fahrenheit. The initial humidity should be in the range of 58 to 60% and when the eggs start to hatch, raise it up to 65%.
Put the eggs inside the incubator with their larger end facing upward. Turn the eggs half a turn everyday in order to avoid egg yolk sticking to the shell. Watching a chick come out of an egg is a wonderful experience as well as an opportunity to enjoy and witness some wonders of nature.
Hatching eggs is a great feeling and this feeling is amplified if it is your first time. The video below shows what you can expect with a chicken hatching out of an egg in real time: