Dry Incubation


12 Years
Mar 17, 2010
essexville, michigan
This term "dry incubation" bothers me. I'm new to incubating only having one successful hatch with pheasants, and going 0-24 on chicken eggs last spring, My old mind tells me that if something is dry, there's no water involved. I have put water in my incubator, and there's water in it now, and with just having a jar of water, the humidity is only 20%. If I use something for a wick to get the water out of the jar it will climb to somewhere in the 30-35 range. That's the only way I can get the humidity in the "range" that a lot of people use to incubate. Adding water to a dry sponge that I keep next to the eggs will spike the humidity into the 70% range. How can this be called "dry incubating" if all that water is used for the first 18 days?
Dry incubation refers to the humidity level, not the amount of water in the bator. When incubating in the winter or in a dry environment you will still need to add water to the bator sometimes to get it to around 30% for the first 18 days. The reason they call it dry is because it is compared to the other way which is to have a much higher humidity level....not because it is necessarily completely dry. If you can get somewhere between 30-40% the first 18 days and then let it go to 50-60% after that, you should be fine IMPO. After the 1st one hatches the humidity will shoot up like a rocket and that is fine as well.
You may want to experiment with a different hygrometer. I have had real good hatches like this: I put a 3 inch wide bowl in there, a small one, with water. Day 18 on, I fill all the canals with water. If you fog up the window, open the little hole a bit. All this is talking about a styrofoam incubator.

The other thing I do is keep a piece of bubble wrap or foam over the window. That window on top makes alot of unstable temps. I keep my temps at 100.5 -as close as I can get. I also rotate the outer eggs towards the middle ever day.

And that's my story.
I do dry incubation. NO water until the last 2 or 3 days. I wait until the first pip, though I used to put water in for the last 3 days, regardless.

NO water. After all, a hen isn't adding water, and she doesn't sweat. The eggs need to evaporate. It works for me, but might not for everyone. My cheat sheet is in my signature, if you're curious! Best of luck~ if we share our experiences we may strike gold!
Don't try this at home kids!
I use sportsman incubators and hatcher. I have gone completely dry, no water at all, in the incubators since last summer. For the last six weeks, six hatches, I have used no water in the hatcher either. My hydrometer reads as low as 20% then it says "lo". Sometimes the moisture generated by the hatching chicks brings the reading up to 20% but most of the time it just reads lo. This is working for chicken eggs as well as quail and ducks. Everyone hatches like they are supposed to. No shrink wrap, no stickies, just pip and zip and there they are. The thing I like the most is that if I want to open the hatcher I don't have to worry about losing the humidity cause there isn't any.
Well, dry incubation definitely doesn't work for everybody. I live in the west of Scotland, which is one of the soggiest climates known to man, and the one time I tried a dry incubation, my humidity sat at 30% the whole time, which sounds like it should have been ideal. Yet by day 18 I had air cells about twice the size they should have been, and a whole bunch of very dried out and very dead little chicks. I've since figured out (by weighing my eggs) that the humidity which gets my eggs to the correct moisture loss almost every time is 45%.

I'm not disagreeing with the people who get a good result with low humidity, just pointing out that the method doesn't guarantee success!

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