WHAT IS INCUBATION?
This term refers to the natural process that birds perform when hatching their eggs to develop offspring of birds and reptiles. Currently, this process can be done by specialized machinery that produces the necessary environment in an incubator for chicken eggs.
HOW AN EGG INCUBATOR WORKS
From an industrial point of view, we must bear in mind that a chicken is only capable of producing 50 to 70 eggs per year, making the average very low. That is why these devices have been developed for industrial purposes that allowed an increase in the production of eggs with an economic price.
The chicken incubator is not only a device that produces heat but it also recreates the optimal conditions of humidity, oxygenation, movement, and temperature to incubate chicken eggs. Providing something similar to its natural environment and thus maintaining the best conditions for the development of the young.
HOW TO BUY AN EGG INCUBATOR
You will find many products and accessories to match your needs. In the case of small scale use, it is necessary to take into account that an incubator with a cheap price usually accommodates 9 to 15 eggs. Recent models can have a capacity of up to 50 eggs.
It is also important to determine which quality you will want to brood. Finally, you should think if you are more interested in the possibilities of an automatic incubator or in a manual.
Cheap appliances will usually have manual controls, so it will be necessary to control the temperature, humidity and turns that should be given to eggs several times a day. On the other hand, somewhat more expensive models usually have automatic controls, so they are not only better incubators, but also more practical, but also require daily control but less frequently.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
When you decide on buying or maintaining a chicken egg incubator there are several factors which you should keep in mind.
Read the instructions
The first thing you should do is carefully review the instructions of your incubator. The instructions will clarify its operation and the parameters of use that you must take into account.
Clean the incubator frequently
Cleaning the incubator before use is important to avoid possible diseases that would be transmitted to the embryos through the shells. You can start with a cloth or a small vacuum to remove dust and then clean thoroughly. Do not forget to let the incubator dry well before use.
Calibrate the temperature
Calibrating the temperature and the other factors will improve the efficiency of the incubation. You should avoid placing the device in places with changing temperature. It is ideal to place the incubator in a room with an average temperature of 21 to 23° C. The thermometer should measure the temperature that will reach the center of the egg; being perfect to reach 37.2 at 38.9°C. Buy a model that allows calibration between 30 and 45 ° C. A few changes to a good sensitivity sensor can be very useful since the ideal does not vary more than 0.1ºC.
It is also important that you have good thermal insulation, glass is preferable to plastic. You should have a good humidity sensor. In some cases, the humidity can be chosen and in others it is standardized, but practically all incubator models also include an option to include water manually, during the process it must be placed in an average of 40 to 50%.
Choose the eggs carefully
Getting fertile eggs is another key point. Keep in mind that only 50 to 75% of fertile eggs are capable of producing a bird, so looking for a good selling point for hatching eggs will greatly increase your chances of success.
Be careful regarding the hatching
The average germination time is 21 days, the last 3 days are the key to the development of the embryo. At this time it will be necessary to increase the humidity levels to 65% or 85% and reduce the temperature to 35 or 36ºC to allow the chickens to hatch. You should not forget to turn them 3 times a day throughout the process. The hatching can take 2 to 3 days and then the chicks should be kept in the incubator another 24 hours to allow them to dry their lungs perfectly. There are models with other benefits such as a special light to follow the process or an electronic day counter that facilitates all these tasks.
s It is advisable to monitor the entire process, and can even facilitate the birth of those weaker embryos by making a small hole in the air chamber, and then placing the newborns in a small cubicle with light, heat, water, and food.