How to prepare for Hatching days for a greater hatch rate.

My Incubator.

hatch daysI bought my incubator about five years ago. It is a simple manual incubator that uses electricity. I have used it quite a number of times while trying to learn the secrets of incubation. At some point, I even tried to modify it to see if it could accommodate more eggs during incubation. That did not turn out well. Still, I think I will cover that in another article… I learned a lot!

Why I bought my incubator.

Basically, the reason why i bought my incubator was to experiment with incubation. In my rural area, 100 percent of the hens that are reared brood their own eggs. Even after the introduction of the improved kienyeji breeds, the people in my area have still stuck to their pure kienyeji chicken.

I wanted to try something different. So i bought my small manual incubator, put a few fertilized eggs in it, and got my first hatch.

Preparing for your hatch day.

hatch dayThe amount of effort that is put into preparing for a hatch day is phenomenal. Sometimes, it is even tiring. I appreciate the fact that most hatch days that I have personally experienced have had a positive outcome. This is because, besides the fact that I have mostly learned how to incubate my own chicken eggs through experience, I count the negative experiences as points of learning and gaining knowledge. I wrote this article just to share my experiences with a potential beginner on what to do during hatch days.

What should you generally do as you prepare for your hatch day? This comes into play from day one up to day 19 or 20 when the expected first chick is to come out. I have ever had a hatchling that pipped on the 18th day and hatched on the 19th day. It was a miracle! But probably I had my humidity set in the wrong way. Here is what I have taught myself to do as I prepare for my hatch days.

  • Do not touch or turn the eggs

Avoid touching the eggs as you prepare for the day they will hatch. Normally, it is useless to count your chicks before they hatch, so it is better to just be patient and wait for whichever outcome. Touching the eggs will do more harm than good to the hatchability rate.

Did you know that as the chick is preparing to pip it is properly positioning itself for the right place to pip? Once you touch the egg, you change the conditions that put the hatchling in its original position and delay or even inhibit it from hatching.

  • Increase the humidity in the incubator.

Normally, about three days before the hatch day for chicken eggs, the humidity is supposed to be increased in the incubator. For those using automatic incubators, all you need to do is make sure the incubator has enough water so that you can set it on the controller.

For farmers like us who use manual incubators, the humidity is fully controlled by the amount of water we put in the incubation chamber. Too much water causes too much humidity while too little water causes too little humidity.

  • Add a little vinegar to your incubator water.

I learned this secret from an article that I read on google. Vinegar softens the eggshells to make it easier for the chicks to pip the shells and hatch. It has absolutely no negative effect on the health of the chicks.

  • Build your brooder.

Back view of small boy sitting on floor and watching chicks in wooden brooder with light bulbs in heated barnA brooder is a place where chicks are kept during the first six weeks after they hatch. Essentially, this is supposed to be their little heaven after they hatch.

The brooding of chicks is an adventurous experience that can even be documented. Eagerly waiting from day one to the last day can build up some level of anxiety. However, when you document your findings, temperature readings, and even egg turning times, it becomes fun!

A typical brooder should have;

  • A source of heat for the chicks is because they are still too young to regulate their own heat.
  • Feeding plates or troughs and a source of water for the chicks to feed off of.
  • Brooder paper absorbs any form of moisture in the brooder which keeps the environment disease-free.
  • It should be well ventilated so as to avoid the build-up of disease-causing organisms.

On the hatch day.

  1. Do not touch the eggs.
  2. Leave the already hatched chicks in the incubator.
  3. Do not open the incubator unnecessarily
  4. Let each and every chick pip and come out of its shell by itself.

After hatch day.

  1. Get your brooder ready for the chicks.
  2. Take out the hatched chicks and put them in your brooder.
  3. Mix some liquid paraffin and glucose solution and dip the chicks’ beaks in it.
  4. Keep the incubator running for the chicks that have not yet hatched.
  5. Do not try to aid any chick that is struggling to hatch.


What to do with the chicks to reduce mortality?


What happens to the eggs that do not hatch?

Throughout days 22 and 23, leaving the incubator on will salvage at least one or two chicks that may have not hatched up to that point. Eggs that do not hatch may either be infertile, infected by bacteria or they are genetically slow.

According to my experience, late hatchlings have a 60 percent chance of surviving to maturity. Be that as it may, you must take care of them much more carefully. And it all starts from the incubator.

If you get lucky and see a hatchling on days 22 to 24, take care of it just like you would the other chicks. Chicks that hatched earlier from the same batch of eggs may a bit bigger in size and may now know how to feed. It is your duty as the farmer to take care of the late hatchling separately until they are strong enough to be transferred back to their original group.


Reasons why some eggs may not have hatched;
  1. Infertility
  2. Inadequate humidity throughout the incubation process.
  3. Getting infected. These will form some blood rings that will be seen earlier when candling the eggs earlier on during the incubation process.

I will be updating this article in the future to cover more and more experiences that I have with incubation. Now that solar technology has been introduced to small-scale farmers in Kenya, I am looking forward to trying out incubation with renewable energy. Stay tuned!


Desmond Wekesa is the director of Agripreneur, with experience in new methods of farming and digital marketing. His background in digital marketing informs his mindful but competitive approach in the online-agriculture space. Desmond is fueled by his passion for understanding the best methods to network and achieve ones goals of advertising. He considers himself a ‘forever student,’ eager to both build on his knowledge in agriculture and stay in tune with the latest digital marketing strategies through continued hard work. You can email him HERE.