You have been checking your eggs for fertility and you are feeling confident that you have eggs to incubate, or maybe you have bought fertilized eggs. Now, what do you do? Let's talk about getting started with incubating eggs.
This post contains affiliate links, see my disclosure policy for more information.
First, you are going to want to have everything you need, before you start collecting eggs.
You want to make sure that you have an incubator, and that you know how to use it! I have used two different incubators and they are both so completely different in their setup and how how they work.
Collecting Eggs for Incubating
When collecting eggs for incubating you want to remember that you do not wash the eggs or wipe eggs clean with a damp cloth. This removes the egg's protective coating and exposes it to the entry of disease organisms.
Avoid excessively large or small eggs. Large eggs hatch poorly and small eggs produce small chicks that aren't going to be up to standard and may not be that healthy.
Do not incubate eggs that are excessively misshapen. You want to hatch “perfect” eggs.
You can collect eggs for one week, keeping them in a cool place until you are ready to put them in your incubator. Store the eggs with the small end pointed downward. Do not store them in the fridge! You want to either wait until the weather is warmer or collect eggs as soon as they are laid so they don't get too cold.
As you can see below, I use an old egg carton to store our eggs as we collect them, you don't have to get fancy.
I have had experience using automatic egg tuners, and with turning eggs by hand. Yes, turning them by hand can be time-consuming but really worth it when you have cute little fluff balls running around your incubator/hatcher/brooder.
I turn our eggs at breakfast, lunch, and supper, I keep our incubators in the kitchen so it's easy to remember.
If you are using an automatic turner is to remember to turn it off and remove the turner when you need to stop turning the eggs when you lock down your incubator. Removing the turner is very important.
You want your eggs to be laying down, with the small end pointed down. Now, thankfully with the way an egg is formed when you lay an egg down it naturally lays with the small point down.
When do you lockdown your incubator?
You are going to lockdown your incubator three days before they are due to hatch. Meaning, you are going to stop turning them, and you are going to stop opening the incubator. You don't want to be disturbing the chick as it gets into positing for hatching.
This is going to be different for different types of eggs. One thing I have read repeatedly is that incubating bantam eggs will hatch faster than “regular” chicken eggs. I haven't experienced this with our bantam breeds.
More Tips & Tricks
I just recently learned that there are apps you can use to help you as you incubate and hatch eggs. I have one that is no longer available through Google Play – Hatchabatch but it was recommended to me by someone who has a lot of experience hatching eggs and uses it herself.
Using an app can be helpful just to remind you when you should candle, or when to go into lockdown.