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Maintaining high humidity in an incubator during hatch

Wet, new chickAround day 19, when the first chicks could potentially start to pip, it's time to raise the humidity in your incubator to 65% or more.  High humidity during hatch is essential to lubricate your chicks as they do the hard work of wiggling around, pecking their way out of their shells.  At the same time, you need to keep the vent at least a third of the way open because these hard-working chicks need more airflow to feed their struggles.  But the open vent tends to lower the incubator's humidity, so that's the solution?

Increasing humidity in an incubator with a wicking clothYou can buy evaporating card to stick in your incubator's wells, but the cheaper method is just to use a piece of cloth.  If you place part of the cloth or evaporating card in the well and let the rest sit along the bottom of the incubator, water will wick up into the extra surface area, resulting in more evaporation and higher humidity.

For an even bigger dose of humidity to counteract the vapor lost when you open the lid, heat up some water until it's steaming but is still just cool enough to stick your hand in.  I poured some of this warm water into the wells every time I opened the lid of my Brinsea Octagon 20 incubator, which meant that the humidity rebounded within a minute of me opening and then reclosing the lid.

Opening the incubator lidMost websites will tell you to be as hands-off as possible during the hatch, opening the lid only once every six to eight hours.  Now that I've had a bit of experience, though, I disagree.  I've learned the hard way that if a newly hatched chick rolls a neighbor egg so that its pipping hole is facing the floor, the chick still in its shell can expire before you're allowed to open the lid again.  Knowing some tricks to maintain high humidity while still being allowed to open the lid seems to be key to higher hatch rates.

Our chicken waterer keeps chicks healthy from day 1.

Incubating chicken eggs



After several rounds of trial and error, I figured out the best way to incubate chicks.  You can read the blow by blow experimentation here, or splurge 99 cents on my ebook for the more refined solutions.



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Hi,

My Scots Dumpy Eggs are due to hatch in the next 3 days so was so pleased to find this site especially as I'm using the Octagon 20 too and was concerned about keeping the humidity up. Many Thanks! Fingers crossed now for a good hatch!!

Comment by Dawn Wednesday afternoon, December 21st, 2011
Good luck! I hope you have a great hatch rate!
Comment by anna late Wednesday evening, December 21st, 2011

I have sarama chicks hatching and also have the octagon 20. I have now filled both water trophs but the himidity is now quite high (77). Can high humidity be dangerous at this stage? The vent is fully open?

Please help.

Comment by Amelia Sunday afternoon, April 29th, 2012
Amelia --- Your chicks are probably out of the shell by now, so maybe you can comment again and let us know if you had any trouble? I don't think you should --- more lubrication is generally better at the hatch stage, as long as you don't close the vent and lose the air flow.
Comment by anna Monday evening, April 30th, 2012
I have been reading all your information on the incubator humidity levels. My eggs are in their final days (yesterday was day 18)of hatching in my octagon 20 advanced, but my humidity level won't stay high! I am struggling to keep it high, even with the humidity programed at 65%. It has been fluctuating between 55% and 62% but it won't reach 65%. How can I keep the humidity up enough to keep the eggs alive?!
Comment by Meaghan early Tuesday morning, June 5th, 2012

Meaghan --- Did you try the washcloth method I mention in this post? Once I started doing that, and making sure I went into the hatch with both wells completely full, I didn't have any problem keeping the humidity up.

That said, 62% is fine! Don't worry about a little fluctuation.

Comment by anna early Wednesday morning, June 6th, 2012
I am on day 23 with RIReds ....eggs are moving but not pipping. One egg pipped early this morning but not a lot of change throughout the day. So I read where you can help them some for they may be stuck to sides. So I gently moistened egg and the shells are very thick & hard. But when I saw blood I frantically stopped. Bird is still alive & churning. I AM A NERVOUS WRECK...somebody please help me. First time to hatch.
Comment by Joan Gaudet Friday night, February 8th, 2013
Joan --- This post on helping chicks might be useful, but from your symptoms it sounds like everything's just running slow and you need to give it more time. Actually, since it's now a couple of days after you commented, hopefully you have lots of cute fuzzballs and it's all water over the dam?
Comment by anna late Monday morning, February 11th, 2013

Hi,

Having trouble with my humidity-its summer here and so its humid but i have incubator in a room that is 70 degrees- I have a little water in there as none makes the humidity go way below the 51% optimum. It keeps going either too high or too low. I add a little more-too high-i take some out-too low. I am going nuts lol. Will this affect my eggs too much? I don't know how to keep it stable. Thanks for your help

Comment by Darlene Saturday afternoon, July 20th, 2013
Darlene --- It sounds like you're not hatching at the moment, which is when you want that high humidity. Otherwise, we actually use dry incubation in the summer, with the goal of 13% weight loss by day 18. Unlike temperature, humidity spikes won't harm your eggs (although too low humidity can cause chicks to stick to the eggs during hatch). Your goal with humidity is to get it to average out to the right amount, and weighing the eggs every two days is a good way to make sure you're on the right track there. Then, at day 18, you boost the humidity way up to lubricate your chicks as they start working their way out of their shells.
Comment by anna at lunch time on Monday, July 22nd, 2013






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