-ery yellow chicks. We hatched out chicks all summer of 2020, and have been thrilled with our hatch rates! The last hatch of 2020 consisted of 22 eggs, of which 20 hatched! I sell quite a few hatching eggs as well, and have received positive feedback on hatching rates from buyers.
After our first dismal hatch rate of 3 about two years ago, I had low hopes for my egg hatching endeavors and a low opinion of incubators in general. However, once I conceded that I may have been the error code, I have been pleasantly surprised! To that end, We’ve done things differently since we started hatching for sale that I attribute some success to:
- Stir the eggs! Not really. But good hatching does start before you actually set up the incubator. Keeping the eggs turned or tilted every day helps them once they are in the incubator to form properly. We store eggs in egg cartons until there are enough to incubate, and add a towel under one end that is rotated side to side every day to elevate the eggs and keep them “rotated.”
- Keep a lid on it! I have read where you should candle at minimum 12 and 18 days to weed out duds. However, once I put the eggs in the rotisserie for their 18 days, I have been leaving them be as much as possible except for adding water. Having said that, I DID have a dud this summer that was oozing stuff. It was gross but backyard chickens said it was bacteria and had to go. So, I check through the view port for welfare, but stay out of the incubator as much as possible.
- Turn off the turner. Conventional wisdom says to remove eggs from the turner or to stop turning them with three days left. However, during a recent hatch, I had eggs pipping one day after removing from the turner and with 2 days left to hatch. I think it is because we collect eggs for the max 7 days and then set them to incubate (though I’ve been told by a buyer he waited 14 days and still had good rates!), so my oldest eggs have a jump start. To that end, if your eggs are have sat on the counter for awhile, I recommend taking them off the turner a day early to let them properly situate in their shells for hatching.
- Remember the humidity. That is the hardest part for me. Once you have hatched a clutch or two, you get used to the 21 day wait and its easy to forget it you checked the humidity level every day. Incubators are fairly adept at maintaining their humidity levels, provided that you keep the port holes covered. When it is cooler in the house, I also find it more difficult to maintain a high enough humidity.
We sold many chicks and hatching eggs this past summer, and are gearing up for another year of the same. I am about a week out on filling hatching egg orders, and just started out first incubation of the season a few nights ago. Be sure to visit our Products page for pricing and contact information to get on the list!