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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Incubating chicken eggs Part 2: Getting them in the incubator

Once we had the incubator fairly stable, we were ready to put the eggs in.  We let the eggs become room temperature.  Then we candeled each egg to be sure it had no cracks or double yolks.  Here is a link for an easy homemade candleing device out of things you probably have at home, and also shows what the eggs should look like.  They aren't chicken eggs, but it was extremely helpful.  Candeling Device Video

You can breed out blood spots in your layers by candeling and using only eggs that don’t have them, since they are genetic.  If you can see them, I could not, especially in the brown eggs. Luckily none of our Amerucana's lay eggs with spots. We ended up with 13 Amerucauna eggs,  21 Barred Rock and 2 mystery eggs, for 36 total.  We collected for 7 days.  None of the eggs had cracks and they were all normal shaped, so they were ready to go. 

We put an x on one side and an O on the other side, since we will be turning by hand. I’ll be turning in the morning, my son in the afternoon and my husband in the evening, for 3 turns per day.  So in they went on their sides with the X’s up.    

We monitored  the temperature aiming for 99.5 to 100 degrees and 55-60% humidity.  It took a few hours to get up to temperature.  I initially left it on the temperature that I had it set on for my testing, and waited to see where it went, it was too low so, then made adjustments to the incubator to get the settings where I needed them to be.  We ended up getting a little hot one day and having to turn back down.  After 1-2 days it stabilized and we never had to touch it again.  103 is lethal, we don’t think we hit that high, so hopefully it didn’t do any damage.

It’s best if the incubator is in a room  that doesn’t have large temperature fluctuations.   We have it on the floor of our spare room/TV room.  However the dog is extremely interested in it, I didn’t think she would even notice, it’s been sitting on the floor in there for weeks, but yep she noticed.  So now we have to remember to keep the door closed to keep her out of the eggs.  I’m not sure she would get into them, but I don’t want to take any chances.

We candeled the eggs again on day 7, there seemed to be several that weren’t developing like the others and found one that had gotten cracked.  It looked to us like all of the eggs had been fertilized. We removed the cracked one, but put all the eggs back in because we weren’t sure.  And kept turning…..

We candeled again last night, at about day 13.  This time it was fairly obvious which ones had quit developing and removed those.  We also accidentally broke 2 other eggs my son dropped a thermometer on one, and I dropped an egg on another egg.   We are left with 20 eggs still in the incubator, which is fairly disappointing to us.  We will probably candle one more time just to see the changes on day 18, which is the day we stop turning.  We will also increase the ventilation by removing all of the red plugs, and will increase the humidity to 75% .  There are trays in the bottom that we fill with water as we need, more water increases the humidity.  Then we just sit and wait.  They should be hatching Easter Sunday, so I’ll keep you posted. 


  1. Please post pics of the hatching. Nothing better the spring chickens!

  2. We have been hatching for some time now.We just put a total of 58 eggs in the incubator.We started long time ago and have been at it since,I love hearing them when they are trying to come into this world.
    Stopping by the Homestead Barn Hop

    By the Way,I adore your blog.We are BIG DREAMERS and our dream is to move to ALASKA.

  3. How exciting, I haven't incubated eggs in years, we used to incubate our own coturnix quail eggs. Such an exciting process. Have fun watching them hatch!!

  4. I'm a first timer at incubating eggs too. Now I'm feeling like I haven't been doing it very well after reading your posts - I never measured the humidity! Oh well, they will either hatch in the next 14 days or not.

  5. Carolyn, provided I get some chicks I definitely will.

    Jamie, I think we will do a second batch, and load it up next time. Have you been to AK before? That is cool. We have been up here 12 years last December.

    April's Homemaking, That is cool you used to do quail eggs. I've been thinking about ordering Heritage turkey eggs and incubating, I think I need to get better first.

    Carpe Diem, I just take this first time as a learning experience. Ours hasn't fluctuated much, I think if you have water in it probably is ok.

  6. This is a wonderful tutorial. I have an incubator full right now, but haven't candled them. The candling video is superb; thanks for including the link.