It's that time of year. Whether it's your first hatch, or perhaps you've had a few successful hatches, there are some things you can do to ensure that this hatch is your best ever! First: Read, Read, Read! The Learning center has some excellent articles. Even if you've hatched before, a quick review would be helpful. If you've never hatched before, read Hatching 101. It's a long read, with lots of information, but I strongly suggest that you read THE ENTIRE THING before you even plug in that incubator. Then, after reading everything in the learning center, if you still have questions, there are lots of people on the incubation thread who will help you out. Then: Be sure you have an accurate thermometer. Many hatches have been doomed simply because of a thermometer that is not accurate. If you have a favorite thermometer, check it's accuracy against a medical grade thermometer. The ice test is great, but it may only verify thermometer accuracy at 32*. That may not translate to accuracy at 99.5*! So, test the thermometer (if it's submersible) against a medical thermometer in a cup full of water that is around 100*. Then: Test your incubator. Plug it in, put in your ACCURATE thermometer. Don't trust the one that came with your incubator, or even the digital read out if it has one. Run the incubator for a minimum of 48 hours before committing eggs to it. It is best to test your incubator with sealed water bottles of an approximate volume to = the volume of eggs you will be hatching. A full incubator is easier to regulate. Realize that it may take a good 24 hours to stabalize the incubator temp after adding water bottles or eggs. Be patient, and wait until you've had 24 hours of good accurate readings before putting in your eggs. Got an egg turner? Test it before setting your hatching eggs. The turner motor may also affect your bator temp. Check the temp in the bator in a number of places. Even with a fan, you may find that there are some hot and cold spots. Finally: Time for the eggs. I like to candle all of the eggs before putting them in the bator. You may find some cracks that you would not see with a visual inspection. Mark your air cells, and if turning manually, mark one side with an X, and the other side with an O. If you know which hen laid that egg, you could identify it with her breed or name. Then, mark your calendar. Eggs going in on Sunday? Expect your hatch 21 days later on a Sunday. Enjoy the process of watching the creation of life.