Around 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?
You 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.
Most 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.
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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.