Dr. Greg Archer, AgriLife Extension poultry specialist, College Station, said the 21-day hatch period can go wrong in many ways, but taking precautions and following scientific steps can lead to consistently good hatches.
Store eggs at 60-69 degrees and 75-80% relative humidity as quickly as possible after they are laid, Archer said. Do not wash eggs that will be incubated, and don’t incubate excessively dirty eggs.
Store eggs with the large end up, and set eggs angled 3-10 like hands on a clock after they are laid, he said.
Don’t incubate eggs that are blood-stained, cracked, dirty, elongated, rounded, toe punched, wrinkled or small or double, Archer said.
Make sure temperatures are 95.5-100.5 degrees, and check at least twice a day, Archer said.
Incubators perform best in rooms that are 70-80 degrees with no draft, he said. It should be set on a level surface that receives no direct sunlight and away from corners or against any wall or barrier.
Archer said the incubator should maintain 55-60% relative humidity. Humidity level is one of the factors amateurs have the most problem with.
Candle eggs – put them against a flashlight – at 10-12 days of incubation to make sure embryos are still viable, Archer said. Remove any nonviable eggs to prevent contamination of the remaining hatch. Remove or turn off the incubator’s egg turner three days before the hatch, Archer said.
The incubator’s lid should not be removed after day 18, Archer said. If it must be removed to check water levels on day 20, do it quickly.
Once chicks successfully leave the shell, leave them in the incubator for 24 hours or until they are completely dry, Archer said.
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