Introduction: Automatic egg incubators are devices that provide a controlled environment for eggs to hatch and develop into chicks. They are commonly used in small and medium-sized poultry farms, as well as by hobbyists and individuals who want to hatch eggs at home. In this article, we will explore the different types of small and medium-size automatic egg incubators available on the market, their features and benefits, and how to use and maintain them for optimal results. Types of small and medium-size automatic egg incubators: 1. Cabinet incubators: Cabinet incubators are larger incubators that are typically used in commercial settings. They are designed to hold a large number of eggs and have a number of features to ensure optimal hatching conditions, such as temperature and humidity control, automatic turning of eggs, and alarms to alert the user if there are any issues. They can be powered by electricity, solar or gas, and some models also have backup generators to ensure continuity of operation in case of power outages.
2. Still-air incubators: Still-air incubators are smaller and simpler incubators that do not have any built-in fans or circulation systems. They rely on the natural convection of air to regulate the temperature and humidity inside the incubator. These incubators are usually more affordable and easier to use, but they may not be as precise in maintaining optimal hatching conditions as cabinet incubators.
3. Forced-air incubators: Forced-air incubators have built-in fans that circulate the air inside the incubator to regulate the temperature and humidity. These incubators are more precise in maintaining optimal hatching conditions and are less prone to temperature fluctuations. However, they may be more expensive and require more maintenance due to the presence of moving parts.
Features and benefits of small and medium-size automatic egg incubators: a . Temperature control: Accurate temperature control is crucial for the development of eggs into chicks. Most automatic egg incubators have built-in thermostats that allow the user to set and maintain the desired temperature. Some incubators also have alarms or alerts to notify the user if the temperature goes outside the optimal range.
b. Humidity control: Proper humidity is also important for successful hatching, as it helps to prevent eggs from drying out and ensures that the chicks have enough moisture to hatch and grow. Many automatic egg incubators have built-in humidifiers or humidistats to regulate the humidity inside the incubator.
c. Automatic egg turning: To ensure proper development, eggs need to be turned regularly to redistribute the yolk and prevent the embryo from sticking to the shell. Automatic egg incubators often have built-in mechanisms to turn the eggs at regular intervals, freeing the user from the need to do it manually.
d. Viewing windows: Some automatic egg incubators have viewing windows or clear plastic tops that allow the user to observe the eggs during the hatching process.
e. LED lighting: Some incubators have LED lighting to provide visibility inside the incubator, making it easier to check on the eggs. How to use and maintain small and medium-size automatic egg incubators: Setting up the incubator:
Before using the incubator, make sure to read the manual and follow the instructions for proper setup and calibration. Place the incubator in a location that is free from drafts and has a stable temperature. Fill the water reservoirs or humidifiers with clean water, as specified in the manual. When shopping for a small or medium-size automatic egg incubator, there are a few key factors to consider: i. Capacity Consider how many eggs you want to incubate at a time and choose an incubator that can accommodate that number. Keep in mind that larger incubators may be more expensive and take up more space, while smaller incubators may not be suitable for larger batches of eggs. Temperature and humidity control: Accurate temperature and humidity control is crucial for successful hatching, so make sure to choose an incubator with reliable temperature and humidity sensors and control mechanisms.
ii. Automatic egg turning: As mentioned earlier, eggs need to be turned regularly to ensure proper development. Look for an incubator with automatic egg turning to save you the effort of doing it manually.
iii. Ease of use: Choose an incubator that is easy to use and has clear instructions for setup, operation, and maintenance. Consider features such as LED lighting, viewing windows, and alarms or alerts that can make the hatching process more convenient and stress-free.
iv. Maintenance Some incubators may require more maintenance than others due to the presence of moving parts or additional features. Consider how much time and effort you are willing to invest in maintaining the incubator.
v. Price Determine your budget and look for an incubator that fits your price range. Keep in mind that higher-priced incubators may offer more advanced features and better performance, but they may not necessarily be the best choice for everyone.
vi. Technical and customer support: Look for an incubator that comes with a good warranty and reliable customer support in case you encounter any issues or have questions during the hatching process
Using and maintaining small and medium-size automatic egg incubators: 1. Calibrating the incubator: Before placing eggs in the incubator, make sure to calibrate it to the proper temperature and humidity settings as recommended in the manual. Allow the incubator to stabilize for a few hours before adding the eggs to ensure that the internal environment is consistent and optimal for hatching.
2. Adding eggs: Gently place the eggs in the incubator, making sure that they are not touching each other or the walls of the incubator. If the incubator has automatic egg turning, make sure that the eggs are placed in the correct position for the turning mechanism to work properly.
3. Monitoring the incubator: Keep an eye on the temperature and humidity readings to ensure that they remain within the optimal range. Make adjustments as needed to maintain the proper conditions. Regularly check the eggs to ensure that they are not damaged and that the embryo is developing properly. Some incubators have alarms or alerts to notify the user if there are any issues, so make sure to pay attention to these signals and take appropriate action if needed.
4. Candling the eggs: Candling is the process of shining a light through the eggs to observe their development. This can be done using a candling lamp or flashlight. Candling can help you determine the viability of the eggs and identify any abnormalities that may affect the hatching process.
5. Removing the chicks: When the chicks are ready to hatch, they will peck their way out of the eggs and emerge from the shell. Once the chicks are out of the shell, remove them from the incubator and transfer them to a brooder or other suitable environment.
Maintaining small and medium-size automatic egg incubators: a. Cleaning Keep the incubator clean and free from dirt and debris to prevent contamination of the eggs and chicks. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning the incubator and use a mild detergent and warm water. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials. Replacing the water: If the incubator has a water reservoir or humidifier, make sure to refill it with clean water as needed to maintain the proper humidity levels.
b. Checking and replacing parts: If the incubator has any moving parts, such as a fan or egg turning mechanism, make sure to check them regularly and lubricate or replace them as needed to ensure smooth operation.
c. Storing the incubator: When not in use, store the incubator in a dry, dust-free location to prevent damage and extend its lifespan.
Conclusion: Small and medium-size automatic egg incubators can be a convenient and efficient way to hatch eggs, whether for a small poultry farm or as a hobby. By considering factors such as capacity, temperature and humidity control, automatic egg turning, and ease of use, you can choose an incubator that best suits your needs. Proper use and maintenance of the incubator can help ensure successful hatching and healthy chicks
Note: Engoho Kuku Farmer is a trusted supplier of High quality automatic egg incubators in Kenya.