Hatching eggs doesn't have to be specifically witnessed inside a barn in a farm in the middle of nowhere. You can actually hatch your own chicken eggs if you wish to witness such an interesting event. If you are a teacher, letting your students see how an actual egg hatches is a science experiment that will definitely capture their interest and imagination. If you wish to do this interesting science experiment, either at home for your kids, or in school for the students, below are the steps on how to do this.
- Get the fertilized eggs. You should be able to find fertilized eggs from hatcheries or poultry farmers. You may need to travel a bit out of the city to do this, but it will be worth it. Insist that you pick the eggs on your own. Make sure that you choose eggs that are medium-sized and are undamaged, without any cracks or holes. Buy a few eggs, in case the embryos don't survive.
- Find an incubator. There are two main types of incubators: the forced-air incubator, and the still-air incubator. Forced-air incubators are large and can hatch a lot of eggs. It also has a fan to circulate the air inside. Still-air incubators are smaller and can hold only a few eggs at a time. As the name implies, it doesn't have a fan to circulate air. Ask your veterinarian whether he knows of suppliers who can rent out incubators to you, if you are hatching eggs during certain period only. You should also inquire on which type of incubator would best suit your needs.
- Test your incubator. Before you put the eggs inside for hatching, switch on the incubator and test if it is working properly. Make sure that the temperature and the humidity inside the incubator remains constant for at least 24 hours. Incubators should be located inside, where there is enough air and good ventilation.
- Incubate the eggs. Once you are satisfied with the performance of the incubator, you may now place the eggs inside it. Once you put them in, you will notice that the temperature will lower after a few hours. Do not attempt to adjust the temperature for 48 hours after placing the eggs inside. You should incubate the eggs for around 21 days.
- Adjust temperatures and humidity levels accordingly. Remember to keep the temperature at a constant of 100 degrees Fahrenheit for forced air incubators. Still air incubators should have a temperature of 102 degrees. The humidity should also remain at around 60% for the majority of the incubation period. Increase the humidity to 65% once you see that the eggs are beginning to hatch.
- Turn the eggs gently. For about 4 to 6 times daily, turn the eggs at half a turn intervals. If it starts to hatch, though, do not turn it for three days. Do this gently so you won't damage the embryos inside.
- Watch the eggs hatch. Once the chicks start coming out of the shells, sit back and watch them do it on their own. No matter how difficult it may seem for them, resist the urge to help them out. They need to be able to get out of the shell themselves so they can mature properly.
Always practice good hygiene when hatching the eggs. As soon as all the eggs are hatched, clean out the incubator thoroughly to prepare it for the next batch.