Spring is right around the corner. If you plan to incubate and hatch eggs during this season, then you will need to prepare yourself ahead of time. Let’s look at some factors you will want to consider before making the choice to incubate, and the supplies you will need to have a successful incubation cycle.
Tips: You should use a separate egg incubator for hatching higher, avoid many diseases by giving hens
Timing: Many people take vacations and trips in the spring. You will want to take this into account when planning your incubation project. Remember, chicken egg incubation takes roughly 21 days to hatching- and once they hatch, you still have baby chicks that need attention for 2-4 more weeks before they are ready to join your flock. That means that you will probably want to wait until you have a block of about 2 months with no extended trips planned. However, if you do have a trip planned and don’t want to or can’t wait until after you return, there are things you can do to help have a successful hatch. First, try to plan the trip for either prior to hatching or after hatching so that you can be available during that crucial time. Installing egg turners can help to make sure that your eggs are turned properly while you are away. You may also be able to purchase an automatic humidity module, depending on the type of incubator you have. Your best option, however, may be to solicit a friend or neighbor to egg-sit (or chick-sit if it is during brooding). If they are not experienced breeders, then you will want to give them a checklist or rundown of what needs to be done while you are away.
Breeding Stock: If you are purchasing eggs for incubation, then you will want to make sure that they are appropriate for your climate. By choosing winter hardy breeds, you can ensure that your flock will be able to survive your year round climate if you have seasonal weather fluctuations. Purchasing eggs from a local breeder is one of the best ways to guarantee that the breed will be fine in your climate, and will most likely give you better hatch rates. There are many breeders that sell eggs online, so if purchasing locally is not an option for you, this is another good resource. Do your research first, determine what breed you are interested in, and if purchasing from ebay or a forum, ask questions and read the feedback other buyers have left.
Experience Level: When you are considering a new incubation project, you will want to take your own experience level into account. While most incubation is relatively simple, there are some types that require a bit more knowledge and care. We recommend that first timers start with inexpensive chicken or quail eggs. This gives you a relatively short incubation cycle, and provides you with the largest amount of support and documentation since they are so widely incubated. As you become more familiar with not only incubation itself, but also with your incubation tools, you may want to branch into more difficult breeds such as parrots or rare breeds. It is okay to challenge yourself, just make sure that you set yourself up for success before you begin.
Before you begin an incubation project, you will want to make sure that you have all of the tools needed for successful completion. That way you won’t be scrambling to find a part or component when you need it, and may be able to avoid expensive shipping charges for rush delivery.
Disinfectant- This is used to keep all of your components clean and safe for your birds. You can purchase commercial disinfectant or make your own bleach solution. This is typically made using 1 part bleach and 10 parts water
Incubator- There are many different options for incubators, from those that hold as few as 3 eggs, up to hundreds or even thousands of eggs. We recommend starting with a tabletop style incubator for your first projects, as these are inexpensive and do a satisfactory job.
Egg Turner- This is optional, but very handy! Most hobby breeders are not available to hand turn their eggs multiple times per day, so this gives them the opportunity to breed without it replacing their full time job. These would be for poultry or bird eggs only- reptile eggs should not be turned.
Thermometer/Hygrometer- Humidity is one of your key incubation factors, so having a hygrometer is just as important as a thermometer. Many incubators do not come with a humidity readout, so adding this to your toolbox is crucial.
Candler- This is for checking the progress of your eggs. There are several options for candlers, but all of them should allow you to see what is going on inside your eggs, and can help you determine if you are doing things properly.
Hatcher- Many incubators can double as hatchers, or have them integrated. If you do not have the ability to use your incubator as a hatcher, then purchasing a dedicated hatcher or second incubator for hatching will be something you will want to consider.
Brooder Heater- This is what you will use to keep your chicks warm after they hatch. This can be a radiant heater or a heat lamp. By paying attention to the behavior of your chicks, you can determine if the heater needs to be closer or farther from the chicks. If it is too far, they will all be huddled under it. If it is too close, they will all be far away from it. At the right distance, chicks should feel free to wander around and appear lively.
Brooder Enclosure- If you purchase a box brooder, this is part of the assembly. If you are designing your own brooder, then this is simply the walls that will contain your chicks. Give them enough room that they can move away from the heater if desired, but not so much space that they can’t find their way back.
Chick Feeder- This should provide your chicks with plenty of access to food so that there is no need for bullying.
Chick Waterer- Typically a hanging waterer works well, especially with ducks as they have a tendency to climb inside. Providing ample amounts of clean drinking water is crucial to your chicks health.
Chick Feed- Chicks typically will begin on a diet of chick starter, which is a non-medicated feed that is crumbles rather than pellets. This gives them all the nutrients they need without being too difficult to digest.