Tell me all about incubating

Ninjasquirrel

Crowing
May 11, 2018
2,498
6,017
366
Northwest Indiana
Recently got a roo and hes started mounting. A few questions:

What does a fertilized egg look like when candled?

When should you candle an egg to tell if it is fertilized?

We dont have an incubator yet, whats the best and why?

How long should newborn chicks be incubated for?

Is there another option for incubating such as a warm light or heating pad?

I'm sure I'll have more questions. This is a start!
 
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black_cat

Free Ranging
May 21, 2020
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I have not incubated before but it is my understanding that once you consistently see fertile eggs that are cracked open, you incubate a bunch and candle throughout to make sure that they're developing.
 

Xouie

Songster
Jun 11, 2020
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SF Bay Area
I missed two of your questions.

a fertilized egg candles at day 7 has a lot of blood vessels and a tiny mass. The mass continues to grow in a viable egg as time goes on.

There’s a section of DIY incubators on the site somewhere... not sure where, but that will give you ideas for sure.

I’m more of a set-it-and-forget-it type. My incubator is reliable enough that I just add eggs and water and then set phone reminders to check water/candle on certain days.
 

rascal66

Songster
Sep 10, 2015
756
953
237
Washington
There are tons of incubating guides on here.

Here is a good guide:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/ar...-eggs-just-21-days-from-egg-to-chicken.47696/

Here is a more in-depth guide:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/the-beginners-guide-to-incubation.73350/


For starters, when a Rooster successfully mates with a hen, she can be fertile for anywhere between 10 - 14 days usually.

As soon as you start incubating the eggs, you can candle them as early as day 5 to see the embryo and veins clearly. It will look like a dark spot with a bunch of red webbing.
20200110_041318.jpg


The first day you put the eggs in the incubator is considered day 0.

Chicken eggs take about 21 days to incubate/hatch.

Type of incubator is depending on your budget, but once you learn the science of incubating, any incubator will work good. (As long as they are reliable with temp/humidity readings and can maintain the temp good.) In my opinion, Brinsea has been the best. You will also need to think, do you want a hands-on incubation experience or hands off? Unless you get an automatic egg turner, you will have to manually turn the eggs several times a day. There is forced air incubators and still air incubators. Both work good but are different in regards to what temperatures are needed.

Best way to hatch eggs is via Broody Hen or an incubator. Warm lights and etc in my opinion are tricky and more complex, but can be done. I'm sure others have done it and tried before. Can't offer much more information on that as I don't know. I wouldn't recommend it.

Hope this little bit helps.
 

Ninjasquirrel

Crowing
May 11, 2018
2,498
6,017
366
Northwest Indiana
There are tons of incubating guides on here.

Here is a good guide:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/ar...-eggs-just-21-days-from-egg-to-chicken.47696/

Here is a more in-depth guide:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/the-beginners-guide-to-incubation.73350/


For starters, when a Rooster successfully mates with a hen, she can be fertile for anywhere between 10 - 14 days usually.

As soon as you start incubating the eggs, you can candle them as early as day 5 to see the embryo and veins clearly. It will look like a dark spot with a bunch of red webbing.
View attachment 2354616


The first day you put the eggs in the incubator is considered day 0.

Chicken eggs take about 21 days to incubate/hatch.

Type of incubator is depending on your budget, but once you learn the science of incubating, any incubator will work good. (As long as they are reliable with temp/humidity readings and can maintain the temp good.) In my opinion, Brinsea has been the best. You will also need to think, do you want a hands-on incubation experience or hands off? Unless you get an automatic egg turner, you will have to manually turn the eggs several times a day. There is forced air incubators and still air incubators. Both work good but are different in regards to what temperatures are needed.

Best way to hatch eggs is via Broody Hen or an incubator. Warm lights and etc in my opinion are tricky and more complex, but can be done. I'm sure others have done it and tried before. Can't offer much more information on that as I don't know. I wouldn't recommend it.

Hope this little bit helps.
So I cant just set them on my counter for a few days and then candle? They have to be incubated first? Wouldnt the egg start to go bad if it wasnt fertilized?
 

rascal66

Songster
Sep 10, 2015
756
953
237
Washington
So I cant just set them on my counter for a few days and then candle? They have to be incubated first? Wouldnt the egg start to go bad if it wasnt fertilized?
No, in order for any development to happen within the egg, you must incubate them. Otherwise, they're regular eggs good for eating!

If you want to check fertility without incubating, you must crack them open and look for a white 'bullseye' in the yolk. It would look something like this:
Screenshot_20200930-110239_Firefox.jpg Screenshot_20200930-110252_Firefox.jpg
(These were taken from google)

If needed, you can store the fertile eggs in a cool dry place for up to 1-2weeks before incubating them. Or incubate them sooner.

If you happened to incubate an unfertile egg, they won't necessarily go bad. Just candle them on the day 5 and if it glows up with no sign of an embryo, you simply would just toss it.
 
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MGG

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Feb 7, 2020
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So I cant just set them on my counter for a few days and then candle? They have to be incubated first? Wouldnt the egg start to go bad if it wasnt fertilized?
They need to be incubated for about 5 full days before you'll see anything. A temperature of 99.5 degrees must be maintained constantly. You will need to get a thermometer and calibrate it to check your incubator with. You will also need to get a hydrometer, and salt test it, to check your incubator with.
Eggs need to be turned at least 3 times each day. I turn 5 times for the first week and 3 until lockdown if I'm turning manually. My NR has an auto turner so I don't need to worry about that anymore though.
You can store fertile eggs (let them sit at room temp on your counter or whatever) for up to 1 week before fertility starts to drop off. Some have had eggs stored for up to 3 weeks still hatch, but it's best to not wait that long. 1 week is a good period of time. You want to set all of your eggs in the incubator at the same time, or you'll have a staggered hatch. Those are bad for beginners. It's best to just avoid them. Set your eggs all at the same time, and only eggs from the same species. (For example, don't hatch duck and chicken eggs together, or chicken and quail eggs together, or duck and turkey, etc.) You got some pretty good answers to your other questions.
How many eggs are you planning on hatching at the same time? I would reccomend the Nurture Right 360 for your incubator. Heat lamps and heating pads are not good options at all. It is nearly impossible to hatch eggs with them, they spike, randomly shut off, are a fire hazard, and will need constant monitoring.
I found my NR 360 at a local TSC for $130. It's as good as a Brinsea (if not better) and much cheaper. I have been incredibly impressed with mine. I have had several 100% hatches, (the others were due to my error, such as a dented egg and several experimental hatches)
it maintains temp perfectly, has a large clear dome for a lid so you'll be able to see everything, auto turns up to 22 eggs, has external water ports, a built in candler, and quite a few more nice features. The only thing I would change is, the lid doesn't have a handle. I did put on 2 clear adhesive handles on each side. They work just fine.
20200526_222141.jpg

I did used to have a Magicfly 12, which I was a big fan of. But then it crapped out after a year and became a chick death trap. So... I wouldn't go with one of those. It was great for the first year, but the frosted plastic is super annoying and it only holds 9 eggs. It started spiking and shutting off, and the alarm would go off all the time.
A NR would be a great incubator for you though. There's a whole thread on here about them. I wish I had started out with the NR instead of the Magicfly, but, hindsight's 20/20.
Leave the chicks in the incubator once they hatch just until they're fluffed up. About an hour and a half. They'll sleep a ton the first day. The second day they'll be more active. They won't start to eat and drink until they're about 48 hours old, the yolk will sustain them for 3 days after hatching. That is how day old chicks can be shipped via mail and not need food or water.
I candle almost everyday, starting on day 4, because I am very careful and there is a lot of day to day changes you can observe. As long as you do it carefully and in under 20 minutes it doesn't hurt a thing. Day 4 is when you'll start to be able to see stuff happening. There will be a little blood island with some spider veins and a tiny embryo in the middle. With white eggs you'll be able to see the heartbeat.
Lockdown on day 18, as in, turn off the turner and raise the humidity to around 65%. Once you notice the first external pip (Below)
20200528_101117.jpg

Up the humidity to 75%. You might have to use a mist bottle and mist the eggs with warm water often to keep it up. Its very important it stays high enough though or your chicks will dry out and get stuck.
If you have any more questions let me know. I'm happy to help.
I know it seems like an intimidating amount of information now, but once you do the first hatch you'll get it. There's a learning curve, and everyone makes mistakes. Don't worry. Good luck! Keep us posted.
 
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