Notes from Windward: #68


Thoughts of Incubation

Monica sums up what she's learned


     In May and June, I successfully incubated and hatched 30 chicks, 3 ducks, and 4 guinea hens. What will follow is all of my thoughts on using our warm-e-rator to breed fowl.

Warm-E-Rator Conditions

  1. Make sure the temperature stays within 1-2 degrees of 100 with the humidity at 50-60% - check thermometer for accuracy!! - thermometer bulb should be about level with the top of the eggs.
  2. Make sure the water pan is always full and sponges wet. This will keep the humidity more constant.
  3. Try to collect only clean or only slightly soiled eggs for hatching-- dirty ones can cause disease. Wiping off the dirt removes the egg’s protective coating and pushes germs through the pores of the cell.


     Chicken incubation period is 20 days, where ducks and guineas is 28 days--3 days before the end of the incubation period, STOP turning the eggs.

     I put duck, chicken, and guinea eggs in all together, stocking the warm-e-rator in shifts as I collected them. This caused some difficulty in hatching. It was more work on my part, because I had to keep close track of when to stop turning each individual egg. Also, when the eggs hatched, the incubator and other eggs would get dirty, possibly contaminating them.

     Next time, I might try incubating all eggs that will hatch at close to similar times. To do this would require saving eggs to be put in the incubator all at once.

     Eggs can be stored at around 55 degrees for up to 7 days before incubation.

     Cool eggs must be allowed to warm slowly. Abrupt warming can cause moisture condensation on the shell which will reduce hatches.

Egg Positioning and Rotation

  1. Eggs should be positioned large side up at a slight angle.
      Eggs should be turned a quarter turn 4-6 times per day with clean hands.
    1. Be especially gentle with them the first week of incubation, as they have delicate blood vessels.
    2. I made charts with the date down one side, and the times across the top. I turned them at 9, 12, 3, 6, and 9, each time writing in the temperature and humidity and anything of notice that could affect the incubation ie. power outages,....


    Hatching Problems

         One problem I faced fairly frequently with my second round of eggs was chicks and ducks starting to pip the shell, but being unable to get all the way out. I believe that this was caused by insufficient moisture. Adding more sponges/rags for more moist surface area to evaporate from could help this. Also, Gina said next time I might want to spray the duck eggs with water, because mom ducks will go swimming then sit on the eggs, therefore moistening the shells.

         Shell sticking (another problem I faced) can also be caused by low humidity, as well as too much ventilation. Therefore, I would recommend trying to keep the door on the warm-e-rator closed as much as possibly. This was a tough for us, because everyone wants to check on the eggs frequently, especially during hatching time.

    Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 68