Guide to Incubators, Incubation and Candling eggs (With FAQ!)
Incubating eggs is an enjoyable process, especially to show kids the life cycle and beautiful beginnings of young chicks. A great experience for just about anybody, and there's always joy with every hatching!
In this guide, i'll share from experience of hatching hundreds of eggs, varying from quails, ducks, chickens and goose so far. Can't wait to try hatching more different types really!
Some basics first:
Standard Incubation Temperature: 37.5C (With some varying from 37.3C to 37.8C, but no hotter or cooler is recommended)
Standard Incubation Humidity: 40-60% for the incubation duration before lockdown. Given Singapore's humidity, you usually do not need to add water. Do leave the airgap open on your incubator as eggs are living things which will need to breathe!
Standard Lockdown Humidity: 60-80% for lockdown, which is the last 3 days where they hatch, and no more turning movement/rotation of eggs is needed! You need to add water usually to achieve these humidity levels.
For Incubating Duration:
Chickens incubate for 21 days.
Quails incubate for 17 days.
Ducks incubate for 28 days.
With of cos, some eggs being late occasionally or early by a day or two!
With a good incubator, some of these settings are preset and you need not worry and hatch your eggs easily.
I recommend buying a good branded one, if you plan to hatch for the longer term.
Good ones i have tried and enjoyed are Rcom and Brinsea - Which you can buy locally with great service and warranty from Asby.com.sg (Mr Ang)
You can also look to purchase Brinsea online on Amazon.co.uk which carries the three pin compatible option (and suitable voltage) for our local electricity supply. Prices are there are cheaper, but there is shipping risks.
These will still be likely from $250 onwards, and go for the auto rotate version for easy hatching. Rotating eggs manually can be time consuming, and will also affect the temperature/humidity.
For more affordable alternatives, look towards Taobao/Ezbuy/Aliexpress/Lazada and other ecommerce platforms, or second hand alternatives, going from $50 usually.
Temperature however is usually inaccurate, and you may need to self calibrate with an extra thermometer.
Or you can try building your own incubator as a project!
Storing of eggs:
Eggs can be stored up to a week or two, before viability drops.
Collect them from a flock with a rooster, else they wouldn't have a chance of being fertile.
Store your eggs with the pointer end downwards, in room temperature, for best storing. (the round end has an air sac, so it will be able to remain firmly in place and not detached)
NO contacting of water/washing or cleaning of eggs is recommended, there's a natural anti bacteria coat for these eggs which will get damaged as such.
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!
Eggs are not LEGAL to be sold in Singapore, with a hefty fine.
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!