Incubation: A Guide To Hatching And Rearing By Katie Thear

Incubation A Guide To Hatching & Rearing By Katie Thear

Incubation: A Guide To Hatching And Rearing  By Katie Thear £6.95

Published in 2003 this book covers the use of small to medium sized incubators and brooders, as well as larger systems for more exotic species.

Species covered: chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, quail, pheasants, partridges, peafowl, ostriches, emus, rheas and parrots.

Relevant to poultry keepers, waterfowl and game breeders, and anyone with an interest in domestic and exotic species of birds.

List of Contents

  • Introduction
  • History of incubation
  • The egg
  • The breeders
  • The incubation area
  • The incubator
  • Home made incubators
  • Rearing in a brooder
  • The broody hen
  • Home made brooders
  • Chick assessment
  • Different bird species
  • What went wrong?
  • References and further information
  • Index

Presented in a clear and concise way, with an emphasis on practical techniques and DIY tips.

Price £6.95 + P&P.

36 thoughts on “Incubation: A Guide To Hatching And Rearing By Katie Thear

  1. My Grand Daughter & Grand Son have recently been given two ducks, as we caring grand parents have now been given the task to look after these ducks.

    I do not know the first thing about ducks but your web site is very helpful, however I want to build a house for these ducks, is there any particular design i should be looking at, for starters is there a need for sections inside the duck house for laying eggs and a section for sleeping?
    Your quick attention would be grateful as my grand kids think this will be done this weekend.

    PS. These two ducks are black, quite small but noisy, I also don’t no the model or type of duck either, looking at pictures, I would say they were either Cayuga or Runner.

    Steve B.

  2. Hi Sara, I had a little partridge lay her eggs on the gravel in my courtyard garden at Claydon House.last year It’s a busy place with lots of footfall, however she managed to evade discovery until about a day before they hatched, leading me to believe that the period was a lot shorter! She raised 11 youngsters and I had to help 3 of them to follow her when she at last marched them out of the yard in the evening.
    Well this year she’s back ( or her sister) but this time she’s chosen a really inconvenient spot, in the raised flower bed ( boxed ) that holds my wisteria. I don’t want to drown her when I water it but neither do I wish to lose my plant! Any suggestions??
    many thanks Lucinda

  3. hi got 14 partridge eggs in our back garden which hen laid shes been sat on them up untill three days ago they are now wet and cold will they survive and how can we help them

  4. Hello
    I have three duck eggs in an incubater and the first one has pipped. I’m worried that i’m going to do something wrong as last time i had some duck eggs i looked at some websites and it said to leave it alone and sadly we lost it. Can you please tell what i need to do to give this little duckling a bright future.
    Jasmine Cullen (15) xxx

  5. Hi Kathleen,

    Thanks for visiting farmingfriends. I have added your comment to my friendly forum as some of the members may have some advice for you.

    It sounds to me like the Indian runner is the easiest to mate with and probably the lowest in the pecking order. I wonder if she is smaller that all the others, even though she may be taller! I wonder if you could separate the runner with another female for awhile to give her a break.

    Let us know what you decide to do.

    Kind regards
    sara @ farmingfriends

  6. I have a mix of 6 ducks: 2 Harlequin drakes, 1 Harlequin female, 2 female Kakhi Campbells, and 1 female Indian Runner. They have been together for over a year and all got along until recently. Now the males have turned on the Indian Runner. They mate her but also chase her off from the group and bite her. Her head is raw from it. Why would they do this and what should I do? They are not tame although they tolerate us feeding them and putting them up and letting them out to the pond in the morning.

  7. Oh and they are mixed breeds from my Aunties farm.. She has a Cayuga Drake, an Indian Runner duck and four Khaki Campbell cross ducks.. One of them defanatley has runner genes.. She’s huge :)

  8. I hatched five ducklings and they all hatched eight days early.. All of them had the yolk still attached and all of them needed a bit of help out of the shell.. But all five survived (They hatched Pancake day) they are so cute but they are huge now !!!

  9. i have just put 20 black rock in the incubator what humidity level be i have put the in today 31/01/2011 and temperature i have them at now 96.5 and 50 will they be ok

  10. hi there im looking for fertile partridge eggs where about are you located and what will the cost be im from durban south africa thankyou derick

  11. hi i have 3 eggs in my incubator rigth now and its the 28 i never saw any movment and when i candled them i only saw a big black thing at the top of the egg why arent they hatching and if a duck dies in its shell well it sink or float please helpppppp……….

  12. Hi Sara,

    I have a problem.
    Six weeks ago I had two of my baby chicks hatch. A male Buff Orpington and a female Millefleur Pekin Bantam. They were sat on my shoulder two nights ago and Fish (Orpington) pecked out my earing and swallowed it. I can now feel it in the vent of the chick but am scared it may be stuck in it’s intestines. Is there anything I can do? The earing is just below the vent and I can feel the sharp tip at the slightest touch. I know most farmers would cull to put it out of it’s misery, but Fish and Fleck are just family pets and we wouldn’t dare kill them. I even tell my mum of for mentioning anything like roast chicken! Please help.

    Kind Regards,


  13. Hi Sara,

    I’ve just been checking your very informative site and I’m really worried I’ve just messed up terribly. We have ducks (roughly akin to Muscovy – we are in Africa so it’s hard to be sure). Due to a wall collapsing I had to move a sitter. I tried to move nest and duck together but to no avail. In the turmoil that ensued the duck in question kicked a weaker female off her eggs. We took a chance and added her original clutch to her stolen one. This afternoon I noticed that she had kicked two eggs out. When I checked them I noticed one had started to hatch (bill out and cheeping healthily) and another had piped. I helped the first out (it seems to be doing OK) and then (fools rush in) I tried to help the second. I’m pretty sure I’ve made a terrible mess of things. The poor thing is very weak and there was some blood and swelling at the tail end. I feel like such a rank amateur and an idiot. I’m don’t have the heart to put out the poor thing out of it’s misery unless I know that it really doesn’t stand a chance.

    Any advice would be most appreciated.

  14. hey there i have 15 japanese quail i have had them for over a year now i used to have chinese quail aswell i was just woundering how long the fertilerty period is coz i was told my chicken and duck eggs was about 2 week i tend to sell a lot of my duck eggs on ebay coz they are a rare bread of ducks coz i was thicking of selling some of my quail eggs on there and if i was going to eat my quail eggs how long would they stay fresh for thanks a lot

  15. Hi Sam,
    I don’t have experience of hatching pigeon eggs. It may be that the pigeon chick is developing inside the egg. If it is 4/5ths dark with an air sac at one end then the pigeon chick could be developing.
    How long have you had the eggs – they usually take 17-18 days to hatch.
    If the egg is turning grey then it could be about to hatch, look out for pipping where the pigeon chick breaks the shell.
    Hope the pigeon eggs hatch ok.
    Kind regards
    sara @ farmingfriends

  16. i have two pageion eggs i think and when tryed candling them all i got was 4/5 of both the eggs were dark could you tell me if there alive or not?????
    thank you

  17. I have a newly hatched call duck that can not stand. The toes are slightly turned inward. Would using the splints help, or even maybe cure the feet. Will they ever be cured, if I use the splints. He will stand really high in his stance and falls over. He always ends up on his back and cannot get rightside up by himself. I feel terrible beacuse I can’t always sit there and keep flipping him rightside up. Please any suggestions would help a ton!

  18. Hi Allie,
    Thanks for visiting farmingfriends and leaving your comment. Sorry I have only just managed to get in touch with you.

    I assume that you still have your ducks under the heat lamp and are feeding them chick crumbs or waterfowl crumbs. From two/three weeks old they can go out during the day weather permitting.

    I have a free forum with a section on ducks and a few of the mebers have muscovey ducks so I will put your comment on the forum and you might find it of interest .

    Let us know how your muscovy ducklings are doing.
    Kind regards
    sara @ farmingfriends

  19. Hi Gerry,
    Thank you for visiting farmingfriends and leaving your comment. Eggs should be stored with their small pointy end facing down and also turned each day. When turning the eggs I turn them 360 degrees. When they are in an incubator with an automatic egg turner they just rotate from side to side without being turned through 360degrees.
    So when storing the eggs before incubation I turn them through a 360 degree turn and then I have an automatic egg turner that moves them from side to side with pointy end facing down. An automatic egg turner is great as it saves alot of time.
    Hope this helps.
    Just to let you know that I have a free forum with a section on incubating and hatching eggs which is an active forum that you may find of interest.
    Kind regards
    sara @ farmingfriends

  20. In the information above you say that eggs should be stored before incubation with small end down. However you then say they should be turned twice daily. This is not compatible the previous statement. Also how do you turn them? Is it just an inversion or rotation?

  21. My female Muscovy duck layed about 18 eggs back in February. Of the 20, this being her first batch and I’m assuming because she was too clumsy and not careful enough, she ended up breaking 4 before starting to sit on them, two ended up being infertile, one died early in development and up until 2 days ago, I had 11 healthy looking eggs.
    Once they made their external pip, I began noticing that the egg had become very brittle and the outer membrane looked like paper. I decided to leave the little guys to mother nature overnight. The next morning, still no progress and after doing some online research felt it was best to leave them be. Well the NEXT morning (today) after there was still no progress, I had decided that leaving them in the eggs would likely be killing them, as it seemed that the shells and outer membrance became very tough! I decided to intervene.
    After reading online about several way to assist in the hatch, some involving using a toothpick to pip the inner membrane, I figured I’d have a better chance at not killing them without sticking a sharp, pointy object under the shell, where I would be poking blindly at these tiny creatures.
    I started where the chicks had created their external pip. I gently started to break away little pieces of the shell, while leaving both membranes attached. At first I decided only to create a ring around the egg to see if the little guys would push their way out. I put the eggs back under mama and watched them kick and wriggle and try so hard. It didn’t seem to be working. I realized that the problem was the membranes…the outer membrane was like rubber and the inner membrane was also dried out and very tough. Although this is a bad comparison, it was almost like cracking a hard boiled egg, only leaving the membrane intact…and without the intention of lunch of course!
    Again, I decided to intervene and release the duckling from the membrane. I thoroughly believe that had I not helped, all of the babies would have died. I wanted to give them a fighting chance.
    By the time they were all hatched, I had 11 live chicks. Two ended up dying shortly after (I think I waited too long and they may have given up) but I still have 9 seemingly healthy chicks. Once they were hatched however, mom no longer had any interest in them. It seemed the novelty had worn off…maybe because this was her first clutch?
    I now have them under a heat lamp. Some of them have begun to stumble around a little and one is much bigger than the others…I think he is doing the best and he was also the first to come out of his egg. I use the term “him” loosely as I do not know how to sex Muscovy chicks at this age. Anyways, They are beginning to gain some energy and open their eyes every once in awhile, they stumble around and chirp and then they rest and do it again.
    I am wondering if anyone here knows anything about Muscovy Ducklings. There really isn’t much information that I have found in regards to how they should act or look at this point. It has been about 8 hours under the lamp now.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you!

  22. Hi Raj,
    Mopsa is right you can increase the humidity by adding more water.
    * add a jar or tray of water
    * add a wet towel

    I believe that low humidity is caused by high temperatures which dry out the water trays in the incubator and help the humidity in the atmosphere evaporate.

    You could also try to increase the humidity levels in the room in which the incubator is. You may also need to regulate the temperature in the room in which the incubator is in so that the temperature in the incubator doesn’t get too high.

    Let us know how you get on.
    Kind regards
    Sara @ farmingfriends

  23. My maid found a pigeon egg in my balcony two days ago. I was doubtful the pigeon would return because she had touched it, but i made her put it back anyway. At the end of the day it was still there, and I had no clue what to do so I put it in a box and wrapped a blanket round it. I checked on it yesterday and today, and only just now began researching on what to do with it.. I’m not at home right now, and will only return in the evening so I can’t do anything I found out on the internet, But I wan’t extra information on it anyway:]

  24. Hi, chicks incubator need 18 days 45-55% humidity and last 3 days 65-75%.
    I had small water pan,
    I want to know,
    How i increase and decrease humidity?
    Please advise me.(I had digital hygro meter)

  25. Hi Mopsa,
    Thanks for letting me know what you do. Putting your eggs into a hather a few days before hatching sounds like a good idea as this will keep the incubator free from bacteria when the eggs hatch and the chicks are start to do their droppings in the incubator.
    kind regards
    sara @ farmingfriends

  26. I always clean my eggs before incubating – 28 days in a nice hot incubator? Just think of all the bacteria that builds up for the young to be born into. Water warm, use nailbrush, let eggs dry naturally. I then move the eggs to a static air hatcher for the last 2-3 days, which means the incubator keeps clean and can be used for a further batch of eggs with a good wipe of sterilising liquid first.

  27. Hi Elayne,
    Thanks for visiting the farmingfriends website and leaving this question.
    All the books and research says that you shouldn’t help chicks out of the shell and that opening the incubator can affect the rest of the eggs hatching.

    I have not had to help quail hatch as they managed to all hatch at the same time and relatively easily.

    I have however had to help many a guinea fowl and more recently ducks out of their shell. in fact I have 7 ducklings that are now 4 weeks old and if I hadn’t have helped them out of their shells then I would only have one. All the ducklings are now fully grown and are actually 18months old and all healthy.

    From experience I have found that if a chick has not hatched itself within a few hours then I have found that they often die in the shell as the heat in the incubator dries up the shell and membrane and makes it difficult for the chicks to hatch.

    If you do decide to help the chick out, remove the egg from the incubator quickly and cupping the egg in your hand to keep it warm carefully start to pick off the shell from where the egg has pipped as this is where the chicks beak is. I have always had to work quickly although you have to be very careful that the blood vessels in the shell don’t bleed as this can kill the chick.

    When I help a chick out I try to pick the shell off the head part first and work my way down. I never take all the shell off as the chick is attached to the shell at the base. I usually take the top off and try to make sure that the chicks head, wings and body are free.

    It is important to make sure that the chick can move about because once it goes back in the incubator the membrane and shell dry out and can get stuck to the chick. I then put the chick and attached shell back in the incubator and let the chick wriggle free in it’s own time.

    Sometimes the guinea fowl keets have made it and sometimes they have still died.
    Another thing to consider is once you have opened the incubator the temperature and humidity will be affected and this could stop other chicks from hatching.
    You say that the chick has been like this for 12 hours. If you decide that you are going to open the incubator I would just check that you can see movement from the chick otherwise you will have affected the incubator conditions and the chick could already be dead.

    I hope this information helps you make the right decision for you and that your chick is ok. let me know how you get on.

    Kind regards
    Sara @ farmingfriends

  28. Hello,
    I have been trying to hatch Coturnux quail with my son for his science project. Today is day 18. One egg has a small crack in it and the poor little bird has been moving sporadically for the past twelve hours or so but there hasn’t been any more cracking. The rest of the eggs haven’t moved for over 24 hours. Should I be concerned?

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