Caring For Hatching Eggs

To help maintain the quality of hatching eggs, the eggs should be collected at least 3 times daily. If the daily temperature exceeds 85 degrees Farenheit collect the eggs 5 times daily. Ideally this should be split between the morning and afternoon hours.

Slightly soiled eggs are okay to save but dirty eggs should be discarded. Eggs should be stored in a cool storage area with ideal conditions being 55 degrees Farenheit and 78% relative humidity. Store the eggs with small end pointing down.

If the eggs are not incubated within 4-6 days alter their position once daily until placed in an incubator. Do not keep eggs from incubation longer than 7 days. Hatchability rapidly decilnes if eggs are not incubated within 7 days.

Allow cool eggs to slowly reach room temperature before placing in incubator. Rapid warming causes moisture condensation on the shell and leads to disease and reduced hatching rates.

Incubation
Improper control of temperature and humidity is the number cause of poor hatching results. Other causes can be improper ventilation, improper egg turning, and poor sanitary condition of the eggs and or the incubator.

If using a forced air incubator keep the temperature at 100 degrees Farenheit during the entire incubation period. Incubators that are too warm result in early hatches, and incubators that are too cool bring late hatches. Either way the results will be less than satisfactory.

Still air incubators should maintain the temperature at 102 degrees Farenheit. To obtain the proper temperature elevate the bulb of the thermometer to the same height as the top of the eggs if they are laying horizontal. If the eggs are in a vertical position elevate the thermometer bulb to a point approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch below the top of the egg. Do not allow the bulb to touch the eggs or the incubator as improper readings will result.

Make sure the thermometer is accurate. A one degree error for 21 days can seriously interfere with embryo developent. Chek the accuracy by comparing readings with a clinical thermometer. Hold both under lukewarm water to gauge accuracy.

Ventilation is a very important part of the incubation process. As the embryo develops, oxygen enters the egg throgh the shell and carbon dioxide escapes in the same manner. Unobstructed ventilation holes above and below the shell are vital for proper air exchange.

Turn the eggs a minimum of 4-6 times daily during incubation. Do not turn them during the last 3 days before hatching. Keep the incubator closed during hatching. The air vents should be almost fully opened during the latter hatching stages.

Initially the eggs should be placed in the incubator with the large end up or horizontally with the large end slightly elevated. Never place the eggs in the incubator with the small end upward.

Thanks to the Poultry Extension Department at Mississippi State University for compiling and releasing this information.

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