What is the correct incubator temperature

What is the optimum incubation temperature and humidity for chicken?

The optimum temperature for chicken eggs during incubation is 37.5 degrees centigrade throughout the 21 days. It is the humidity you need to change as follows.

Day 1 to 10 maintain high humidity. This allows the embryo to develop faster.

Day 11 to 17 maintain low humidity between 40% and 50%. This slows the development in size of the embryo while it grows strong and sturdy. If the chicks become too big they cannot break out of the shells since they lack space to move.

Day 18 to 21 maintain high humidity of 55% to 70%. The humidity softens the egg shells making them easy for the chicks to break out of.

In addition to these temperature and humidity issues observe the following

Set fresh eggs, preferably less than six days old but certainly not more than 14 days old.

Set eggs from healthy birds fed on diet rich in vitamins. Chicks can inherit disease feom parents.

Introduce a new unrelated cock to the the flock every two years to reduce inbreeding. Inbreeding cause congenital weaknesses to manifest.

Also note the subtle differences in breed. Smaller birds like bantums hatch earlier and improved kienyeji come with their own little difference.

How to stop chicken from eating their eggs

As a chicken farmer, you will want to do your best to prevent your chickens from starting to eat eggs. Why? Not only does it cause economic loss, but once they start they can form a habit of it. The longer they eat eggs the more difficult it is to break the habit. So it is imperative that they stop the habit as soon as possible. It is not easy and the remedies are not obvious. You may need to try several techniques to stop egg-eating behaviour before you find something that works. So be patient and persistent.
Here are some tips to help you prevent or stop the egg-eating habit.

  • Proper nesting: Reduce chances of Accidental discovery

Chickens may form the habit of pecking their own eggs due to accidental discovery. Once the egg is broken, an egg is broken for one reason or another, the chicken may begin to eat the yolk and the shell and end up developing a taste for eggs. To reduce chances of accidental discovery:
• Collect eggs frequently: Try to collect eggs early in the morning before 10 a.m. Most chicken will have laid by then. Go round checking for eggs later in the day.
• Keep the eggshells strong. It is important to make sure that your hens are getting enough calcium in order to build strong shells. A thin shell is a broken shell and an eaten egg. The easiest way to do this is to supplement with oyster shells. If an egg does break, clean it up quickly!
• Provide a cushioned nesting box. No, you don’t need to sew an ACTUAL cushion. Just make sure there is enough natural material in the box that when the hen lays the egg, it falls softly and doesn’t crack.The probability of an egg being pecked on is higher if it is outside the box. So provide adequate laying boxes. Provide spacious at (at least one 1-by-1-foot) nest for every four to five hens in the flock.
• Position the nesting boxes at least a foot off the ground and away from the roosts.
• Cushion the nesting box by lining them with at least 2 inches of clean, dry nesting material such as wood shavings, grass or straw.
• Relocate any broody hens
Broody hens occupy space that other chickens have identified as their nesting place. Competition for space often leads to broken eggs and subsequent temptation to feed on the broken egg

Correct the Deficiency in the Diet

Chickens may begin eating eggs due to nutrient deficiency. Deficiency in protein or Calcium may cause a chicken to seek out a supplemental diet of eggshells. Eggs are loaded with protein, and the shells are made up of almost pure calcium. These two things are essential to a laying chicken’s diet and overall good health. If chickens aren’t getting enough of either, they may turn to eat their own eggs to compensate. Feed your chickens a good quality feed specifically designed for laying hens. Chicken feed which provides probiotics and increases nutrient absorption is a good supplement to the usual feeding. The protein ratio in their layer feed should be at least 16%.
Give them leafy greens and grass, but also incorporate plenty of protein-rich treats like mealworms, black oil sunflower seeds, or home-sprouted seeds and grains. You can also scramble up some eggs to feed back to your chickens if protein difficiency is acute.
You can supplement their diet with milk, yogurt and/or sunflower seeds. If you feed hens eggshells for calcium, smash them to a powder so the chickens don’t associate them with eggs.

How to encourage broodiness in chicken

Hatching eggs by having your hen sit on them can be more desirable than using an incubator. The broody hen is a perfect incubator. By nature, the hen provides the correct temperature, correct humidity and turns the eggs periodically using its beak.

Moreover, after the eggs hatch, she acts as the brooder for the chicks. Therefore you will not need electricity or an artificial heat source to keep the chicks warm.

The mother hen provides emotional support and a sense of security to the chicks. It shows them how to fend for themselves and protects them against other members of the flock.

How to encourage broodiness

1. Choose the right breed

The first thing you can do is choose breeds that tend towards being broody. Most of the improved kienyeji breeds do not get broody. They have been created that way since brooding would be bad for egg and meat production.  Local breeds become broody and are good mothers. Others breeds that become broody are Brahmas,   Silkies, and Orpingtons.

2. Heating

Chickens are less likely to get broody during the cold season. If temperatures during the day are continually falling below 20 degrees, then put the chicken indoors and or provide a heat source.

3. Leave some eggs where it lays

A second way to encourage a hen to go broody is to leave some eggs in the nests. (“Dummy” eggs, such as golf balls or plastic Easter eggs work just as well as real eggs and don’t risk being broken). This can encourage your hen to start sitting on them.

4. Provide enough food and water

The chicken feels ready to mother if the environment has enough food. Also, a well-fed chicken is more likely to go broody because the body temperature is higher plus it spends less time looking for food. You can assist her by leaving feed and water close by. She will begin to pull her breast feathers out, literally “feathering” her nest, and growl and fuss if you try to move her.

5. Provide a conducive environment

Chicken prefer laying eggs in a dark hidden place. The same applies to sitting on eggs. You are more likely to get your chicken to be broody if you provide her with a dark, safe place to sit on the eggs.

Hang a curtain of some kind on the entry of the nesting boxes. This can convince her the nest is secret, safe and secure.

6. Make the nest cosy.

Adding a thick set of litter to the nesting boxes can help the hen to relax and spend more time at the nest. Always make sure that the nest are clean by adding nesting material that is thick enough to cushion the eggs so they don’t break.

If you are successful, you will notice that the hen will spend most of her time in the nest. It may leave briefly to feed drink and defecate. The hen will also produce the telltale noises of a mother hen and growl and fuss if you try to move her. Encourage this by leaving food nearby. If this happens, remove the dummy eggs or the old eggs and slip some fresh fertilised eggs under her.

NB: Provide spacious nesting boxes since the first hen to get broody might induce broodiness in more hens and they start fighting for space. Moving a broody chicken will most likely abort the broodiness.

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