Guide to Incubators, Incubation and Candling eggs (With FAQ!)
Incubating chicken eggs can be a fun and educational experience, especially for children. It allows you to see the life cycle of a chick from the very beginning, and there is always a sense of excitement when a hatching occurs.
In this guide, we will cover the basics of incubating eggs, including temperature, humidity, and duration for different types of birds. We will also provide tips on buying incubators, storing eggs, and checking fertility.
Standard Incubation Temperature: 37.5C
The standard temperature for incubating eggs is 37.5C, though some variations between 37.3C and 37.8C are also acceptable. It is important to avoid extremes in temperature as it can affect the viability of the eggs.
Standard Incubation Humidity: 40-60%
The standard humidity range for incubation is 40-60%, which should be maintained until lockdown (the last three days before hatching). It is usually not necessary to add water in humid regions like Singapore, but it is important to leave an air gap in the incubator to allow the eggs to breathe.
Standard Lockdown Humidity: 60-80%
During lockdown, the humidity should be increased to 60-80%. This is the time when eggs should no longer be turned or rotated, as the chick will hatch within a few days. Adding water to the incubator is often necessary to achieve the higher humidity levels during lockdown.
Incubation Duration: The incubation duration for different types of birds is as follows:
- Chickens: 21 days
- Quails: 17 days
- Ducks: 28 days
It is worth noting that some eggs may hatch a day or two earlier or later than the standard duration.
With a good incubator, some of these settings are preset and you need not worry and hatch your eggs easily.
When it comes to buying incubators, it is generally recommended to invest in a good branded one if you plan to hatch eggs on a regular basis. Two well-respected brands are Rcom and Brinsea, both of which offer reliable incubators with a good warranty. Both incubators can be purchased locally from Asby.com.sg, while Brinsea incubators are available on Amazon.co.uk (though be aware that shipping can be risky.
These incubators tend to start at around $250, and it is worth considering getting the auto-rotate version for easier hatching.
If you are looking for a more affordable option, there are many incubators available on e-commerce platforms like Taobao, Ezbuy, Aliexpress, and Lazada starting at around $50. These incubators may not be as reliable and may require manual temperature and humidity adjustments, but they can be a good choice for those on a budget. Alternatively, you can try building your own incubator as a fun DIY project.
Storing of eggs:
Eggs can be stored for up to a week or two before their viability begins to decrease. It is important to collect eggs from a flock with a rooster, as eggs from commercial farms without roosters will not be fertile.
When storing eggs, it is best to keep them at room temperature with the pointed end downwards to prevent the air sac from detaching. It is not recommended to wash or clean eggs as this can remove the natural antibacterial coating.
A commonly asked question is: Are eggs from supermarket fertile? No sadly they wouldn't be as farms do not have roosters with their hens. It can be stressful and inefficient for commercial production especially in cages!
Eggs can be asked from our fellow community, and some will spare you eggs. Do note on the responsibility of hatching them, as they are chicks who need to be raised and fed. A useful guide to raising chicks can be found in this guide here!
You can bring in from a selected few countries, which are Australia, New Zealand and Sweden. Reference here. Up to 30 eggs for personal consumption.
After any transporting, rest your eggs for a day or two, pointed end down, so that your eggs air sacs will hopefully reattached if it got detached during this movement period.
Checking Egg Fertility:
Incubating is the only way aside from cracking one open to check. if you are okay to crack and eat one of the eggs, you can look out for a bullseye with a dot in the centre to see if it's fertile.
Good reference image, from University of Kentucky.
These are great references - Image credits to owner and google!
Candling is done with a torchlight, a phone one suffices. Aim the candle at the fatter end (where the air sac is at), to see viability of the egg.
If the egg is clear - It's likely infertile and would not develop.
if there are no embryos or funky looking eggs - do dispose, you've got a rotting egg on your hands! A big time bomb which stinks....
The eggs are hatching! What now?
During lockdown period, eggs are expected to have pips on day 19/20.
It's recommended to let them hatch naturally then, which can take up to 24 hours. If a pip hole does not change after 12 hours or so, you can consider assisting then. However there are risks associated to assisting chicks - Such as if the chick is not ready, or the membrane dries up during then. Do ensure the egg and chick once assisted whether fully or partly is placed back into the incubator for a good temperature and humidity.
This allows for the chick to rest naturally.
Chicks do not need to be fed or provided water for the first 12-24 hours.
We have removed the chicks!
After removal from incubator, you can provide feed and water, and preferably provide a heat lamp or chick brooder. Alternatively, a warm thermal waterbottle would be a great source of heat, along with some towels draped over for better sleep and heat retention at night.
Congratulations on your journey to hatching them!
You can check out our guide to raising chicks here and prepare the necessary food, bedding and equipment during the incubation period before they hatch!