Incubating Eggs

My Christmas gift

Never would I have expected that I’d ever get an egg incubator as a gift or even use one!  But this past Christmas, my hubby splurged on me and got me a highly rated Brinsea Octagon Incubator.

Brinsea Octogan Incubator

I never wanted an incubator as I thought they would be really hard to use – have to worry about turning the eggs at the proper time, maintaining proper humidity, la da da da da…….  No thank you!

Since we have around 75 egg layers right now, we decided first to hatch meat birds.  We order from a local Idaho hatchery (Dunlap Hatchery) and they ship eggs only in February through May.

But incubator is absolutely amazing!  I could see why my hubby picked this one.  First off, we made sure the temperature would remain the proper 99.5 degrees for 12 hours.  Then we added the water into one vessel and added the eggs, POINTY end down. This helped the growing chick have the proper amount of air in the egg.  Wrote on the calendar the reminders to add water every other day to one vessel and then keep both vessels filled the last three days.  That was IT!  The incubator did it’s thing!  The octagon shape made it possible for the motor to turn the entire incubator.  As it turned out, our “due date” was Good Friday!  Nothing like having baby chicks for Easter!

We finally remembered to candle the eggs about 2/3 way through and found 2 of our 24 eggs were not growing.  One had invisible cracks that we could only see through candling and the other egg might not have been fertilized as nothing was growing in there.

Do you know what candling is?  I didn’t before we researched incubators.  How we candled our eggs?  Hubby cut a small hole in a piece of cardboard – maybe an inch in diameter?  Then he put the cardboard on top of his high powered flash light.  We held the egg over the light (in a dark room) and could see blood vessels and dark masses in the growing eggs.  Made this mama nervous as those eggs were worth a lot of effort and my kids were handling them in the dark!  But thankfully no one were harmed.

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On the night before the expected hatch date, I went and sat next to the incubator to see if I could see any pecks in the shells or hear any peeps like I had heard others talk about.  Nothing. But early in the morning on Good Friday, my oldest runs into my bedroom screaming, “A chick has hatched!!!!”  I run in to the laundry room and look in the incubator and there it is, as fluffy and loud as it can be!!!  Several other eggs had holes in their shells too!  By that night we had 12 hatch.  Pretty good odds.  50/50 already!  By Easter morning, 21 out of the 22 had hatched.  After leaving the last egg in the incubator for 2 more days, just in case, we decided to open the unhatched egg up.  Looked fine but maybe it ran out of air??  No idea what happened but that’s nature.

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I had heard that incubated eggs have a very high failure rate.  But my hubby loves to research and he made sure he paid more for a highly rated machine.  I now have to agree with his wisdom! Our second batch of eggs are now halfway through their incubation time.  We’ll have to see if the rate remains that high this time!

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Because my goal is to raise all of our meat chickens to last our family’s needs for a year and I only have a 24 egg incubator, we will be ordering chicks and eggs the next few orders.  Last year, I bought 64 birds and that wasn’t enough.  The kids can’t wait to butcher date as they are missing chicken meals.

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