General information

Chicken Egg Incubation


The use of incubators for breeding poultry allows breeding chickens in significant quantities without the use of chickens. This method of breeding is significantly different from placing the chickens under the hen.

This method of breeding obeys certain rules and laws, and the process requires constant monitoring by the breeders.

Pros and cons of using an incubator

Get young (newborn chickens) for feeding can be three main ways:

  1. Buy ready brood in the farmers market,
  2. Breed young with hen chickens,
  3. Cultivate young with an incubator.

The price of hatchlings in the market includes all the costs of chickens, so this method is considered the most expensive, and the use of chickens requires the participation of an experienced farmer.

The main advantages of using an incubator include:

  • Low price
  • Comparative ease of operation
  • The possibility of breeding a large number of chicks,
  • Low labor costs.
Modern incubators make it possible to breed hundreds of chickens every month, in order to breed the same number of chickens with the help of laying hens, such chickens would require several dozen, and taking care of them has a number of difficulties.

The disadvantages of using an incubator include the need for a continuous supply of electricity and constant monitoring, but use of uninterruptible power supply units and automation of incubator maintenance processes allow to level these minuses.

Equipment installation

Regardless of whether the incubator is made independently or purchased in a store, there are a number of necessary requirements for it:

  • The incubator must have a thermostat, a thermometer and a device for controlling humidity,
  • The frame of the incubator should be made of wood or eco-plastic,
  • The incubator should be kept in a dry and clean room with a constant temperature from +15 to +22 degrees,
  • Must have removable walls and covers with protection against falling inside or offset,
  • The dimensions of the non-automated incubator must be at least 30 centimeters in length and width.
  • In the walls of the incubator should be adjustable ventilation holes.

The minimum dimensions of an incubator without a pallet with the function of autoturn are necessary for quick and easy turning of eggs by hand.

The thermostat is a heating device for maintaining the temperature inside the incubator within the required standard at each stage. The adjustment should be smooth and allow the temperature to change by a fraction of a degree. All heating elements and wiring must be isolated from the water tank to maintain the desired level of humidity.

Eggs should be of approximately the same size, since the incubation period depends on the sizes, and with equal sizes all chicks hatch with a difference of a couple of days.

It is important to remember that the eggs chosen for incubation should have no external damage to the shell in the form of chips and cracks, and the eggs should not have an unpleasant smell. Eggs should be discarded if there is a smell:

  • Mold
  • Rotten
  • Grapes
  • Strong odor of alkali.
Before buying an egg, it should be checked using a special device, an ovoscope, which can reveal some pathologies in the embryo and discard such eggs.

On the lumen of the ovoscope, a healthy egg should have a transparent protein, a pronounced yolk in the center of the egg, which moves freely when it is rotated. As well as an air bubble located near the inner wall.

Pathologies that can be detected by an ovoscope include:

  • Stains
  • Bacterial cuff,
  • Krasyuk,
  • Tech
  • Bloody inclusions
  • Prisushka.

Spots look on a gleam through an ovoskop as dark inclusions in the sizes from several millimeters to one and a half centimeters. These inclusions indicate damage to the egg contents by putrefactive bacteria. Bacterial cuff in the form of a uniform greenish tint also indicates the unsuitability of the egg for breeding chickens.

Krasyuk is characterized by a red-tinged egg on the lumen of the ovoscope and the absence of the yolk, which indicates a violation of the integrity of the yolk and its spreading.

Ascicle is the adherence of the yolk to the wall of the shell and its fixation when the egg is turned against the light.

Tech is characterized by dark inclusions in the egg due to damage to the thin membrane membrane.

Bloody inclusions indicate damage to the blood vessels of the embryo and a high probability of development of a chicken with abnormalities, therefore, eggs with even minor blood stains should be rejected.

You should know that eggs laid in the evening are not recommended for incubation, as they are less viable than the morning eggs due to the peculiarities of the effect of daily rhythms on the hormonal background of laying hens.

Incubation step

After installing the incubator and buying eggs, you can proceed to incubation. For this you need:

  1. Rinse the incubator with a disinfectant solution,
  2. Dry and air the incubator,
  3. Turn on the heating device and the autoturn pallet (if available) one day before the laying of eggs to check whether the temperature condition is stable.
  4. Simultaneously with the test inclusion of the incubator, purchased eggs should be brought into a room with a temperature of +25 degrees to equalize the temperature inside the eggs,
  5. After the day, lay the eggs in the incubator in a horizontal position,
  6. If there is no auto-reverse function in the incubator, it is necessary to mark the eggs with a cross and a zero on both sides before laying the eggs.

You should be aware that when pre-curing eggs in a room before laying, the temperature in this room should not rise above 26.5 degrees, otherwise the chickens may develop developmental pathologies.

The whole stage of incubation is divided into four main periods:

  1. Initial (from 1st to 8th day),
  2. Main (from the 8th to the 14th day)
  3. Final (from the 15th to the 18th day),
  4. Hatching period (from the 18th to the 20-21th day).

At the initial stage, the formation of cardiovascular systems and embryos of vital organs takes place. Blood vessels and the heart are visible on the lumen of the ovoscope, but it is not recommended to remove the eggs from the incubator during this period. At this stage, it is necessary to turn the eggs every 5 hours, the ventilation windows should be kept closed. Temperature should be maintained in the range of 37.8 - 37.9 degrees, and the humidity should be 55-65 percent.

In the main period, a skeleton skeleton and muscles are formed in the embryos, the beak is released. When switching to the main period, it is necessary to increase the frequency of egg turning (every 3.5 hours), and also to start airing, opening the holes in the walls for 6 minutes twice a day. During ventilation, it is recommended to turn off the heating element for better air circulation.

Humidity should be gradually reduced so that by the end of the main period it was 45%. The temperature should be maintained in the region of 37.3 degrees (the tolerance is not more than 0.1 degrees). On the 10th day, the eggs should darken with a lumen on the ovoscope.

At the final stage, internal tissues and organs consisting of highly differentiated cells are finalized. At this stage, the temperature should be left unchanged, and the ventilation time increased to 15 minutes. You should begin to increase the humidity of air up to 55%, and turn the eggs six times a day.

By the end of the final stage (on the 18th day) the first cursed in the shell should appear, and a faint noise can be heard inside the eggs. With the appearance of curses, you should stop turning the eggs and increase the number of airings to four per day. The temperature should be reduced to 37.0 degrees. When hatching the first chicks from the incubator, remove the container with water.

During the entire incubation period, temperature and humidity should be monitored every hour (in the absence of an automated thermostat) or every 4 hours (with an automatic regulator).

Possible difficulties

The main problem that arises during the incubation of chickens is the violation of the temperature regime. This violation can be of two types:

Most often, the temperature in the incubator drops due to a power outage, a malfunction of the automatic thermostat, or a voltage drop in the network, which often happens in garden and dacha settlements. To avoid a sudden de-energizing or voltage drop, you must install a voltage regulator and have a backup power source in the form of a battery.

Critical for chickens is a drop in temperature below +35 degrees.

If the electricity is turned off and the temperature drops, it is urgent to take the following measures:

  • Close the vent holes completely,
  • Cover the incubator with hot water heaters,
  • Troubleshoot the network.

Hot water bottles will help maintain the temperature in the incubator within one and a half hoursfor which you need to restore electricity.

Overheating is no less dangerous than cooling, since at temperatures above 43 degrees the protein begins to fold. If overheating, you need to quickly open the incubator cover and turn off the thermostat for 30 minutes, then restore the previous mode. Overheating occurs most often due to a malfunction of the automatic thermostat relay, so it must be replaced in order to prevent reheating.

Do broilers rush and should they be left for this purpose? The answer is in our article.

Detailed instructions for building a chicken coop for broilers is here.

Brood care

After hatching, do not immediately remove the chickens from the incubator; let them dry out and adjust to the open space. It takes about 30 minutes.

Then the chickens are placed in a box 0.5 m high, at the bottom of which a thick cardboard or natural fabric without a pile is placed. In the center of the box set the heating pad with a temperature of about 39 degrees, for this use:

  • Automatic heaters,
  • Hot water filled bottles
  • Glass three-liter jars, heated lamp on top (only for daytime).

As the bottled water cools, it needs to be changed.

In the first days of life, it is important to observe the temperature and light conditions, gradually preparing the chickens to live in natural conditions.

The temperature on the first day is maintained at 35 degrees, gradually reducing it to +29 by the third day of chickens and to +25 by the end of the first week of life.

In the room for the hatched chicks, the lighting should be set at the rate of one 100 W lamp per 7 sq. M. m. premises. The first day the lighting is kept on all the time. From the second day, for the formation of natural biorhythms in chickens, the day-night mode is set with the lights off from 21.00 to 6 in the morning.

At the time of turning off the lighting box with chickens covered with a cloth to keep warm. It is important to ensure that the floor in the room is not cold.

To feed the chickens you need to start in the first day of life, for feeding use:

  • Millet,
  • Yolk of eggs ground with semolina,
  • Crushed barley.
Food for chickens should be as crumbly as possible, and can be watered only with boiled water.

From the second day you can add low-fat cottage cheese, crushed wheat to the ration, and instead of water, give kefir diluted in half with water. You also need to give the egg shells, after clearing it from the inner film and grinding. The shell is necessary for the normal functioning of the digestive system and calcium intake.

On the third day of life, you can begin to give greens, best in the form of dandelion leaves or liver grass.

For normal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and the prevention of diarrhea, once every 2-3 days chickens should be watered with a yarberry decoction.

For nutrition, you can also use special feed, they contain all the necessary vitamins and nutrients in the right proportions.

So, breeding chickens using an incubator is an economical way to get young animals for beginners and inexperienced poultry farmers. To obtain healthy chickens, it is necessary to exercise careful control at all stages of incubation, as well as to ensure proper care of the hatched chicks in the first days of their life.

Do not lose precious minutes when growing young! Conscientious attitude to growing hatched chickens is the basis of the health of adult chickens.

Be "persistent", do not lose precious minutes when growing young stock, and then your adult chickens will be healthy.

We must immediately make a reservation: the cultivation of chickens after incubation from one-day age is not such a simple matter. Here is the "above the roof." Imagine, the first two or three days a chicken is not capable of independent living. The environment can have undesirable effects on the chick.

There is an expression: "Be able to survive the minute when it seems that everything is already lost." This self-respecting owner can endure this minute - strong-willed, purposeful, patient, persistent, possessing special knowledge of the poultry industry. At this moment we must firmly believe in victory. And if there is such confidence, everything will work out.

In the first days of the chickens are placed in a box. At this time, the “saving straw” for them is the temperature regime: in the first six days - 35 ° С, in the second week - 30-32 ° С, in the third - 25-26 ° С, on the fourth - 22-23 ° С.

This temperature is necessary for normal growth and development of chickens. The heat depresses the chicks. They drink a lot of water, they lose appetite, growth slows down. At low temperatures, chickens start to bunch up, climb on each other, while eating poorly food and quickly weaken.

Feed chickens should be 10-12 hours after hatching. From now on, chicks are given water. It is very useful to feed chickens with boiled and finely chopped egg, as well as fresh non-acid cottage cheese.

When the chicks are kept from the 7th to the 8th day after incubation, they feed dry feed (mixtures of finely crushed grain with nutrients). You can cook mash from powdery feed, sunflower oilcake, fish and bone meal, chopped greens, carrots.

In the first 4-10 days, chickens are fed at least 8 times a day. Then the mash is fed 3-4 times a day, and at the age of more than 30 days - 3 times a day.

Eating feed must be monitored. Chickens should eat food in 30-35 minutes. From the 5th day, gravel is introduced into the chickens ration (particle size - 2-5 mm).

An indicator of good growth and proper development of chickens is their live weight.

Focus on the numbers presented in the table.

Table "Chicken weight depending on age":