Incubating Chicken Eggs

IncubationBack in August last year, I posted my Annual Chicken Plan, a plan I failed to follow last year due to not hatching any eggs. This year we’re right back on track as 12 Light Sussex eggs are nestled together in my incubator, set to hatch this Friday evening.

In the past I built my own incubators, more details on this later, but more recently I’ve used an R-Com Suro 20 Pro, which is every bit as impressive as it sounds.

Why?

To answer this, let’s consider the conditions required to incubate chicken eggs.

Total Incubation Time 21 days
Temperature Day 1-18: 37.5ºC (99.5ºF)
Day 19+: 37ºC (98.5ºF)
Humidity Day 1-18: 52%
Day 19+: 75%
Egg turning Only day 1-18

These conditions are met instinctively by broody hens, which are undoubtedly the best sort of incubator available… if you can get your hands on one when you need it. Thankfully, we don’t need to rely on any of that nature stuff. We have far more reliable technology at our disposal, in the form of incubators like my R-Com Suro 20 Pro. And the reason it’s so impressive is that it does everything: temperatures, humidity, timings and turning. I just press a button and it does the rest.

R-Com Incubator

Of course, mine isn’t the only type available. In fact, I’m not sure I’d even recommend them since R-Com’s incubators are very expensive compared to what else is out there. At present, there are some perfectly good, fully-automatic models available on eBay for around £50.

Eggs

Getting hold of fertilised eggs can be a bit of a chore if you don’t keep a cockerel. Most microholders like me, who are located in a built-up residential area, tend not to keep them as waking all your neighbours at 4am can be embarrassing. However, there are plenty of countryside people who do and there are many who offer fertilised or “hatching” eggs on eBay, and will send them through the post if necessary.

My method is to find those offering hatching eggs who are nearest to me and keep the breeds I prefer – specifically Rhode Island Red or Light Sussex – then arrange to pick up 12 eggs from. As long as the eggs are less than a week old the hatching rate will not be affective. After 7 days old, though, the number of potential chicks will start to drop off.

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