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Setting Up an Incubator

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Hatching eggs requires an incubator. Incubators create a “simulated environment” to mimic a broody chicken setting on her eggs to prepare them to hatch. There are several different types of incubators on the market from simple foam incubators, incubators with automated egg turners and controls, and even cabinet-style incubators that can hold up to 270 eggs!

Incubators handle three things: maintaining a temperature of 99.5 degrees F, maintaining humidity levels between 50-60%, and turning eggs on a regular basis. 

Think about eggs setting underneath a chicken. It will be warm, moist, and shifting from the chicken’s daily movements. For this project, we will be using an incubator that includes an automatic egg turner as well as monitors for humidity and temperature readings. This makes the incubation process less stressful and time-intensive.

Here is a video from NC State Extension on the basics of setting up an incubator:

Here is the online manual for the Harris Farms Nurture Pro 360, the incubator you will be loaning from Haywood County 4-H. This incubator includes:

  • clear plastic around the hatching area for easy viewing
  • a water intake on the outside of the incubator to increase humidity without having to open up the lid
  • bright LED temperature and humidity read-outs
  • a built-in candler on the top of the incubator

What should the temperature be?

The temperature should be automatically set as a feature on your incubator. You are going to aim for a constant temperature of 99.5 degrees F.  It is alright if it ranges from 99 degrees to 101 degrees. The heating element in the incubator will maintain the temperature without you needing to do anything.

What should the humidity be?

For days 1 to 18, the humidity should range from 55-60%. From days 18 to 21, the humidity should be between 65-70%.

You will want to drop by at least once each weekend to check on the humidity in your incubator during this project. Humidity is controlled in the incubator by adding water into the incubator; these incubators will not automatically control humidity.

Here is a video from NC State Extension on setting eggs in an incubator:

***Make sure to consult the online manual for the Harris Farms Nurture Pro 360 in order to correctly set eggs in the incubator. Section 6 tells you how to do this: including that — Eggs need to be set lying flat with their pointed ends facing inwards towards the center of the incubator.