Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers

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Dry incubation

Newly hatched chicksDry incubation means exactly what it sounds like --- you incubate your chicken eggs without adding any water to the wells of the incubator.  The goal is to get your eggs to lose 13% of their weight by day 18 so that the chicks will have large enough air pockets to hatch correctly.  Although this technique flies in the face of the instructions that come with most incubators, many home hatchers swear by dry incubation and say they get better results that way.

For everyone who loves dry incubation, there is a naysayer for whom dry incubation didn't work, and here's why --- air temperature and humidity have a huge impact on humidity in your incubator.  For my late May/early June incubator run, I put in absolutely no water, and the humidity in my incubator was still so high that I was only able to get the eggs to lose 11% of their weight.  On the other hand, people who live in desert climates can't use dry incubation techniques or their eggs lose far too much moisture.

Some dry hatchers not only leave water out of their incubator, they also use a dehumidifier in the room, which is what I would probably have to do to get 13% weight loss from our eggs during our humid summers.  At the other extreme, folks in dry climates sometimes add humidifiers to their rooms to increase the ambient humidity, although it's usually easier to increase humidity just within the incubator by adding water to the wells.  Regardless of how you get there, the incubator's goal humidity is 30% to 40% if you're a dry hatcher or 40% to 50% if you're a conventional hatcher.  (This is all for days 1 through 18 --- see how and why to raise the humidity during hatch here.)

Egg weight loss spreadsheetI've posted before about how egg weight loss during incubation is the real test of whether your incubator's humidity levels are correct.  I know the formulas in that post look a bit daunting --- that's why I made a spreadsheet for this hatch that does the calculations for me.  You can download my spreadsheet and use it during your own incubation run, whether wet or dry.  I hope it helps you get more living chicks as a result!

Our chicken waterer keeps your chicks healthy once they pop out of the shell.

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I have a incubator but there is no water inside it and the Humidity is around 50 to 55... Is that bad because there's no water at all? I'm only gonna add water on the 18th day to raise the Humidity...

Comment by Arvin early Tuesday morning, May 1st, 2012
Arvin --- That's the trouble with incubating in the summer in the South. It's not the end of the world if your humidity is too high --- you might just get a slightly lower hatch rate. I just live with the higher humidity when I incubate at this time of year.
Comment by anna at teatime on Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
I love your spread sheet but find it confusing. In column B it asks for pounds. All of my eggs weighed between 1.8-2.2 oz when I weighed them on day 0. What would I put in the pounds column?
Comment by Maria terribly early Wednesday morning, August 15th, 2012
Maria --- The spreadsheet assumes you can take out the whole tray and weigh it with multiple eggs in it, which is why it has a pounds column. But if you're just doing a single egg and have no pounds, just ounces, leave the pounds column blank and it'll be a 0.
Comment by anna Sunday evening, August 19th, 2012

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