Yesterday’s task was to get the incubator ready for another brood. After a dreadful 0% hatch rate on our first try last winter, I came across a “dry” incubation method that has worked well for us and our hatch rates are getting better and better! Our 4th hatch last fall was 80%.

Our routine varies a little from this method. Depending on time of year, we add more water than recommended to the bottom of our incubator as our humidity can often be as low as 20-30%, particularly in the winter. I make foil shallow bowls to place in the lower portion of the incubator and fill these with water close to hatch (day 18 to hatch). The additional surface area these bowls provide works out better than the built-in deeper troughs at getting the humidity up and maintaining it.

I do leave both of the vent plugs out until day 18. On day 18 I remove all eggs from the egg turner and place them on the wire rack laving a little space in between them. I replace the red plugs in the lid and place a very shallow bowl of water on the wire rack along with a sponge so any hatched chicks will not drown. This water is in addition to the foil bowls in the lower portion of the incubator and the one I add warm water to if needed if the humidity gets to low. If the humidity raises too much I remove one plug. If it drops too much, I flip the plug so it just sits on top of the lid but I can use it to partially cover the vent hole.

I also remove chicks soon after they hatch. I know, I know, most say not to. However, I find the incubator becomes really smelly and disgusting by leaving newly hatched chicks, shells and fluid in with all that heat and humidity waiting for the other chicks to hatch. Not to mention it takes the chicks 3 days to properly dry off and fluff up when left in there more than a day or so once removed to the brooder. If I remove them shortly after hatching to a brooder, they fluff up within hours. To combat loosing too much humidity, when I open the incubator, I put a semi-hot rag in my water cup. The steam helps maintain a good humidity level. I also do not lift the lid off entirely. I am as quick as possible, taking one out at a time, letting the humidity regulate before going back in. Additionally, the hatched chicks move the unhatched eggs around too much.

There have been times where the heat was tampered with and it got as hot as 107 in the incubator. I haven’t noticed this to have an affect but I cannot say for sure how long it went unchecked. If I had to guess, I’d say less than a few hours which may not have been enough to heat up the egg internally to 107 anyway. I won’t speculate to say what is okay and what may not be. All I can say is don’t give up on your eggs if your incubator fell too low or went to high, give them a full 25 days and see what happens.

We have a Little Giant still egg incubator with an automatic egg turner. I bought an inexpensive thermometer/hygrometer at Walmart. I wish I had something digital or easier to read and the thermometer is a pain but I stick a meat thermometer in through one of the top holes and that does the job. It’s pointy at one end so I am careful to keep it away from the eggs.  Having the hygrometer inside the incubator is the main goal I am after. I cannot incubate the full 41 eggs having the style of hygrometer/thermometer I have, but those hatches are way too big for what I need anyway. I place the thermometer in a strip of egg turner that will not have eggs in it. Setting it on top has proven to break eggs.

Happy hatching! =)

I am including a list of websites for reference that I have found helpful:

When things go wrong:



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