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Hatching and Rearing

  1. My 20 Year Breeding Program: Buff Wyandotte Bantams
  2. The Treatment of Hatching Eggs
  3. Natural Incubation
  4. Using Ducks and Geese as Setters
  5. Getting that Incubator Ready
  6. Hatching Waterfowl Eggs
  7. More on Hatching Waterfowl Eggs in an Incubator

Getting that Incubator Ready

As the hatching season approaches, there are many chores to attend to but none are more important than preparing the incubator for the coming months of use. All too often, such preparations are either left to the last minute or are neglected altogether. The result can be lost or poor hatches.

What needs to be done depends in part on the type of equipment one has but there are several essential steps we all should take. First, consider changing the wafer if the machine is equipped with a wafer type thermostat. The small extra expense could avoid a failure that could cost an entire incubator full of eggs. Next, make sure that the incubator is sitting level. Failure to do so might mean that the heat distribution inside the machine is uneven. It is also important to avoid a location that might subject the incubator to vibrations. A friend once had his small Styrofoam machine located in the immediate area of a washing machine. The result was periodic vibration that ruined several hatches. Once such matters are taken care of, it is time to lubricate the fan motor if the motor is not a sealed unit. My Humidaire requires that the motor be lubricated every month or so. That done, the machine should be started and allowed to run for at least 48 hours. During that time, check to set that it is properly holding it's temperature and use the hygrometer to adjust the humidity level. DO NOT DO MAKE SUCH ADJUSTMENTS WITH EGGS IN THE INCUBATOR.

Remember that an incubator is an ideal environment for the growth of harmful bacteria. Once you are satisfied that the machine is holding temperature well, it is time to fumigate it before eggs are set. I use Tektrol but Oxine or any other type of disinfectant rated to kill a wide range of bacteria can be used. Close the vents and run the machine for at least one hour with the fumigant in it. Then open the vents and allow the fumigant to dissipate. With Tektrol and some other fumigants, it is important not to breathe the vapors. Be sure to allow the fumigant to be vented out of the machine before setting the eggs. It is also a good idea to run a diluted bleach solution in the water pan during incubation. A few drops of chlorine bleach in the pan when refilling it will do. Speaking of the moisture pan, I highly recommend using distilled water in the incubator. By doing so you will avoid having to deal with mineral buildup and corrosion in the pan.

As the hatching season continues, the temperature will fluctuate due to the number of eggs in the machine. Remember also that the eggs will generate their own heat as their incubation period progresses. Be prepared to make minor adjustments as the number of eggs and number of eggs in advanced stage of incubation cause the temperature to creep up. Try to make sure that the average temperature does not rise more than ½ degree. A good average temperature would be 99 ½ to 99 3/4 degrees F. Last but not least, attend to sanitation during the season and candle those eggs weekly. One exploded egg will spread millions of bacteria inside the incubator and will definitely affect the percentage of hatch not to mention the horrible smell involved.

Originally published: 01-15-2001
Last updated: 04-16-2008