BY: Julia Barnes
I have been breeding, raising, showing, and selling poultry for little over three years now and it has quickly become a passion of mine. There are many things I love about the hobby, but one of my favorite things has to be hatching egg.
Even as I write, I can hear a peeping coming from my incubator, the product of my most recent batch of eggs set. There’s nothing quite like putting an egg in an incubator and after 28 days having a bright eyed fuzzy duckling pop out! But it’s not that simple. For an egg to develop properly, the environment has to be perfect. From day 1-25 the temperature must be 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit until day 26-28 when it should be lowered to 98.5 to promote hatching. The humidity must be between 50% and 60% from day 1-25 until day 26-28 when I raise it to around 70% so the eggshell membrane stays moist during hatching. Eggs are also turned at least 3 times a day from day 1-25 to prevent the embryo from sticking to one side of the egg. Turning is stopped on day 26 to allow the duckling to turn itself into hatching position.
In nature, the mother duck is made to provide that environment using her body heat and instincts to successfully hatch fertile eggs. As humans we cannot physically sit on the eggs like the mother duck does, and that’s where an incubator comes in!
An incubator is an enclosed apparatus providing a controlled environment for the purpose of hatching eggs. Now you can make your own incubator or buy one, but the basic rule is “The less money, the more time.” This basically means that you get what you pay for. I learned this the hard way when I made my first incubator and consequently had poor hatch rates. After deciding I was really serious I invested in a high quality incubator. I bought the Brinsea Octagon 20Eco, a simple but extremely effective incubator that was in my price range and that would fit my small scale project. Since then, my hatch rates have gone from 60% to upwards of 95% and I’m having batches of fuzzy ducklings hatch out each week! There’s nothing like practically creating life in only a month and once you hatch one egg, you’re hooked. I know I was!