Looking to start incubating your own eggs? Eggscelent!
Incubating your own eggs is an amazing way to bond with your chicks from day 1, and is much more ethical than buying chicks from a factory.
The first thing you will need is an incubator. If you get a modern incubator with digital controls and an automatic egg turner, incubation is extremely easy! In fact, from setting the eggs in the incubator until day 18, you’ll have nothing you really need to do – and in some incubators, you really need to do nothing during the whole 21 day period!
There are many styles and varieties of incubators available at a number of price point, with features to make your incubation easier. Depending on your climate, some features may not be necessary.
Beware of very low cost (often less than $100 – some as low as $30!) incubators that don’t seem to have a name brand associated with them, or you see the same picture for multiple brands. These cheap incubators are very inaccurate and won’t hold the proper temperature – they also fail at a very high rate! There are lots of these available on eBay and Amazon – use one of our recommended incubators, or ask around in groups or forums that specialize in egg incubation.
Any good incubators will do the most important thing fairly well – and that’s holding the temperature in the proper place – 99.5 degrees Farenheit (37.5 Celcius). Some offer features like a cooling period to mimic a hen leaving the nest once a day. It’s a cool feature, but we don’t yet have enough data to know if this helps. Someday, Peep will help us figure that out!
Humidity should be held within a range – usually 30% to 60% relative humidity is considered safe for most of the hatch, and at the end, it should be raised to closer to 80%. We’ll discuss that later! A huge number of people now dry hatch – the term for where they don’t manage humidity at all! In very dry, desert regions, this isn’t a great idea, but in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve had great success with it in the past. If you decide you don’t want to dry hatch, all these incubators offer water trays (usually several separate trays) that can be filled to raise the humidity.
If you have the budget and want included automatic humidity control, higher priced options that are considered excellent incubators include the R-Com MX-20 for up to 20 eggs, and the Brinsea Ovation 28 EX for up to 28 eggs.
All of the above incubators have digital controls to hold temperature in place