Why do we incubate? The chickens are very fragile, they die from various diseases, predator attacks, from old age, and so on.
On average, they stop laying eggs when they become four years old. But we need a certain amount of eggs for our customers, so we need a certain quantity of laying hens. To compensate for losses, we need some new chickens every year. We cannot rely on broody hens as they are not many, so we incubate eggs to grow new chicks.
It takes 21 days for a fertilized egg to hatch in the incubator - the same as if a hen sat on it.
We start incubation in February and finish in April so the chicks grow through the summer to maturity by winter.
Incubation is not a simple process. The eggs should be turned at least twice a day. Temperature, humidity, and ventilation are crucial factors. We monitor these parameters daily. During the last three days of incubation, we stop turning the eggs. When the eggs start to hatch, we should not open the incubator yet. We wait for two more full days until the rest of the eggs hatch as well. It's so hard to resist not opening the incubator when the first chick hatches! But we need to be patient, otherwise, we can lose those chicks who didn't hatch on the first day.