I started hatching in egg cartons last winter and my hatch rates have went way up since then. I'll never go back to laying them on their sides to hatch. The first chicks hatched don't bowl the remaining eggs around and I think they pip and then zip much faster than on their sides.
I like this method so much better.
I think it is much easier for them to get out of the egg, they have the leverage and don't roll all over the place.
Its somewhat cleaner, you just take the carton out and toss the mess.
It doesn't completely eliminate the mess but it reduces it.
You also can spot the pips easier using a carton. They are usually right on top. I cut holes in the bottom of my cartons, but its not necessary. I just think it gives it a little more air flow around the egg, kinda like the hole in a bottom of a turner. I just used this method for the first time last week and the hatch did go faster than others.
Oh! I'm sorry. When we are talking about the egg carton method, we mean the 3 days before the hatch. I use automatic turners until then. Then I place them in the bottom part (egg cup portion) of a egg carton where I do not turn them.
I guess if you didn't have a turner you could prop them up with something on one end of the carton and alternate it 3 times a day at least.
I think an automatic turner is a great investment though. My hatch rates have really improved and it makes incubating less of a chore. I think you can find them for 40 bucks and under.
Also big end up (air cell) always.
You can prop up different sides of a carton to turn them and hatch that way but it's not suggested for still air incubators. The eggs higher up will receive more heat than the ones lower down. I do think I'm going to try it for button quail eggs though. They are so tiny and difficult to turn and I don't have a turner. For the chickens I've only placed them in the carton after I stopped turning.