Broody Hen Or Incubator For Hatching Eggs?

“Why exactly do so many more people choose the broody hen over the incubator?”

This comment was left by Megan (thanks Megan) and I thought that it was an interesting question.

More people choose to use a broody hen because the success rate with the hen is usually better than with the incubator.

The broody hen instinctively creates the correct conditions for the eggs to hatch and even knows if the eggs are fertile as they will leave the unfertile eggs in the nest once the other eggs have hatched. There is also very little human involvement in this method except making sure that the hen has access to fresh water and feed, which is part of the daily routine of hen keeping anyway. The lack of human intervention in this method of incubation can make it favourable to some people.

It is more difficult hatching eggs in an incubator as you have to consider:
how long they were stored before incubation and whether they were at the correct temperature,
making sure that the eggs were turned regularly before going into the incubator and once in the incubator,
making sure that the temperature is correct in the incubator throughout the incubation period and
making sure the humidity is correct throughout the incubation period.

As you can see there are alot of variables and conditions that can effect the success of hatching eggs in an incubator. it also takes alot of human involvement and decision making.

Although it can be difficult to hatch eggs, it is not impossible and most incubators today have regulated temperatures making it easier to hatch the eggs. The incubators come with a set of instructions making the incubation process more manageable.

I have found that different types of birds eggs can also be easier to hatch. In my experience quail eggs are easier to hatch in an incubator than guinea fowl eggs.

The great thing about using an incubator is being able to observe the eggs as they start to pip and the chicks hatch out. It is amazing to watch. With a broody hen it is not always possible to watch the hatch.

It is my belief that both methods of hatching eggs have their advantages and disadvantages. It is for the individual poultry keeper to  look at their indiviual circumstances and decide which method is the most suitable. So which method do you prefer, the broody hen or the incubator?

Click on the image below to visit to find out more about this book or visit one of the Farming Friends Bookshops.

Incubation: A Guide to Hatching and Rearing

1 thought on “Broody Hen Or Incubator For Hatching Eggs?”

  1. I have a set ready to hatch come monday, 3-28-11, it is a clutch of chickens.We have had absolutley no luck on peafowl and guineas other than natural incubation from the peahen 20 something peafowl and counting, i am under the impression that it is the humidity level incorrect. our problem is deformities of the pea chicks. I guess nature is always better. it is a still-air incubator. as far as chickens our sucess rate has been normal, 50-75%. Our problem is more the larger birds in the incubator usually don’t work out( turkeys,peafowl, and guineas) ducks and geese seem to do okay.

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