Poultry Incubators and Agriculture Incubators

Introduction: Hello farmers, today we discuss the information of Poultry Incubators and Agriculture Incubators. Generally, an incubator is an insulated enclosure in which humidity, temperature, and other environmental conditions can be regulated at levels for optimal growth, hatching, or reproduction.

A guide for Poultry Incubators Application, Agriculture Incubators

Purpose of incubator: The incubator is an apparatus that is mainly used for environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity that need to be controlled. It is often used for growing bacterial cultures, hatching eggs artificially, or providing appropriate conditions for a chemical or biological reaction. The incubator apparatus is recorded being used to hatch bird and reptile eggs. It lets the fetus inside the egg grow without the mother needing to be present to give warmth. Chicken eggs are recorded to hatch after about 21 days, but other species of birds can take a longer time or shorter amount of time. Also, Incubators are used to raise birds.

An incubator must be able to set the perfect environment and condition for an egg to incubate. Because it regulates some factors such as temperature, humidity, and turning the eggs when necessary, so the egg is incubated properly because it plays the role of the hen in its natural state. The incubator allows the egg to incubate while eliminating the external threats that could harm the eggs.

Eggs Hatching from Incubators.
Eggs Hatching from Incubators.

Requirements made of the incubator

Temperature stability and temperature homogeneity

Living organisms react very sensitively to fluctuations in temperature. To reproducible test results, temperature stability and temperature homogeneity are an important quality for an incubator, even without the operation of a fan. The nutritional media on which the cultures are grown should not under any circumstances dry out. Otherwise, there is a risk that the test effects will be corrupted or the cultures will completely die out. Appliances with natural convection are therefore optimal, since the drying out procedure is not accelerated, in contrast to appliances with forced air circulation.

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Examples of applications in the incubator

  • Growing cell cultures
  • Reproduction of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, yeast or viruses
  • Breeding of insects and hatching of eggs in zoology
  • Reproduction of germ colonies with subsequent germ count in the food industry
  • Reproduction of germ colonies and subsequent determination of biochemical oxygen demand (wastewater monitoring)
  • Controlled sample storage
  • Growing of crystals or protein crystal

Agriculture incubator models

Broadly agriculture incubators are important organizations that offer some combination of farming education, hands-on training, low-cost land and infrastructure to help farmers launch new agricultural businesses aiming to support and grow the agricultural base in their region. They mainly address four core barriers to starting a successful farm business. They are;

  • Lack of knowledge
  • Lack of experience
  • Lack of equipment due to lack of capital
  • Lack of land due to lack of capital and availability

Different categories of Incubators

Incubator farms into three categories;

Educational (farming and business) Incubators

Incubators with an educational purpose that address lack of knowledge both in farm methods and business skills. These incubators mainly provide educational support and business consulting.

Land-based Farmer Training Incubators

Incubators with a land-based or physical location that address lack of knowledge and lack of experience. These incubators provide “Experiential Farming Schools” providing education and hands-on training for beginning farmers with demonstration farms. Unlike, the Land-based Agriculture Business Incubators, their mandates are not to particularly help start new farm businesses, but rather to train individuals for farming.

Land-based Agriculture Business Incubators

Incubators with a physical location and shared infrastructure that address lack of experience, land and this equipment need for new farming enterprises. In addition to providing land and infrastructure, these incubators can provide farming internships, farm skill training and agricultural business development. The main important distinction between these types of incubators is that one of their primary goals is to help start new farming businesses.

Plant LED Incubator

Plant LED Incubator is a chamber that can automatically control the environment of the plant in agriculture. It can control the temperature, moisture, and especially light regime of the plant-based on light-emitting diodes or LEDs. LEDs have efficient electric lighting with desired wavelengths (Red+Blue) which support greenhouse production in minimum time and with high quality and quantity. As LEDs are cool it helps plants to be placed as close as possible to light sources without overheating and this saves space for intense cultivation. It could give the opportunity of greenhouse-produced fruits and vegetables to be available for the market more quickly and less expensively due to the effect of LED lighting on earliness, compactness and quality of products.

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How an Incubator Works

Incubators are used to encourage the growth of bacteria, premature infants and reptile eggs; the most general usage of an incubator is to hatch baby chickens on farms. Not all hens can hatch their eggs naturally, and then an incubator can act as a surrogate parent.

Temperature Control

Warmth is the most important function an incubator provides. As chickens hatch best around 100°F, an incubator becomes an independent, controlled environment where it can remain at that temperature for as long as required. When dealing with chickens, an incubator’s heat would act like a hen’s warmth when sits on her eggs.

Air Circulation

Oxygen flow and circulation are very important for the growth of most organisms, and eggs get plenty of it when they are being hatched naturally. While an incubator is an environment with controlled temperature, it will most likely be an enclosed space. As enclosed spaces do not allow oxygen to flow through them, then an incubator will have ventilation and fans to encourage fresh, warm oxygen to flow over the eggs.

Humidity Control

A hen will provide humidity control when she sits on her eggs and will know exactly how much moisture they should be losing. An egg will lose up to 12 percent of its weight through the procedure of incubating and humidity controls how much of this weight is lost over time. The humidity of an incubator should be monitored by the individual incubating the eggs, as some may require more or less humidity due to shell thickness.

Incubation

An incubator is a box that holds eggs while maintaining a suitable temperature, humidity, and oxygen level. These incubators have varying capacities and adapters for eggs from different species.

Popular incubator models often contain automatic turners, humidifiers, and temperature controllers. Egg turners can generally be purchased separately for incubators that do not include them. Humidifiers can be the type that disperses water vapor as required or many smaller incubators use a simple water reservoir. Temperature is controlled mainly by older wafer systems or the newer digital thermostats.

Incubators come in forced air or still air incubators. The temperature and humidity in a forced-air type incubator are more consistent. They return to the desired temperature and humidity more quickly after being opened. Still air incubators can provide inaccurate humidity and temperature readings and the temperature in them can vary considerably. Whenever possible, best to use a forced-air incubator. Regardless of the incubator type, for a successful hatch, you should turn the eggs and monitor the temperature, humidity, and ventilation.

The incubator must be in a room that has no drafts or direct sunlight; the temperature and humidity should be controlled and stable. The incubator and hatcher should be isolated from the growing facilities. Newly hatched chicks can be contaminated by older birds and the dust formed by growing birds. Obtain biosecurity measures to ensure the incubator area is not contaminated by older birds.

Chicks can be hatched in the incubator depending on what type it is; however, hatching creates large amounts of dust and down. Hatching in a separate unit will maintain dust and down from contaminating the incubator. Temperature and humidity can be controlled more easily if you use separate units for incubating and hatching. Regardless of the method, you should properly clean and disinfect the incubator and hatcher between batches.

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How to use an poultry incubators to hatch eggs

Poultry incubators are used for artificially hatching eggs when you don’t have any hens to maintain the eggs warm. An incubator re-creates the conditions that are required to hatch eggs such as warmth, humidity, and ventilation. For eggs to hatch in an incubator you want to keep the settings stable and constant.

The physical factors needed for successful incubation are temperature, humidity, gaseous environment and turning of eggs. The optimum and uniform temperature inside the incubator is essential for obtaining satisfactory results. The incubator temperature must be maintained as recommended by the manufacturer. It generally varies from 99.5 to 100.5°F for forced draft-type incubators and about 1°F higher for still-air incubators. Low temperature slows down the growth of an embryo and higher than optimum temperature hastens the embryonic development. When abnormal temperature conditions extend over a long period, hatchability is adversely affected by the raise in embryonic mortality and weak and deformed chicks.

Humidity in the incubator apparatus can affect hatchability. Dry and wet bulb thermometers are mainly used for measuring humidity.  In fowls, the egg takes about 21 days to hatch and the relative humidity should be around 60 percent during the first 18 days of incubation and 70 percent in the last 3 days for optimum hatchability. In the forced draft-type incubators the temperature requirement will decrease as the humidity increases.

Fertile eggs are loaded into the incubator device with broad end up. Hatchability decreases when eggs are located in the incubator with narrow end up as the embryo develops with its head in the small end. Turning or eggs in the incubator develops hatchability. Eggs must be turned at least 4 times during a day when turning is done by hand. Modem incubators are provided with devices for automatic turning of eggs at least 8 times or more for 24 hours and in this egg, trays turn through an angle of 90°. No turning is necessary after 18 days of incubation.

An egg incubator creates the perfect conditions for an egg to incubate and hatch successfully. An egg incubator is considered to regulate incubation temperature and humidity at perfect levels. Then, it recreates the role that the broody hen plays in nature.

Types of poultry Incubators

Styrofoam incubators – These types of poultry incubators are the most affordable models. You can put approximately 4 dozen at a time. The downside is that the success of the hatching 100% rests on you then you control temperature and humidity manually. For 21 days, you will not be able to go anywhere since you need to turn eggs over every few hours during the day.

Home incubators with some automatic features – A tad more expensive and some manual incubators come with a turner and fan. In this setup, you won’t need to turn eggs manually and the fan keeps the temperature even inside. Though, you will still need to monitor and adjust temperature and humidity constantly.

Fully automated poultry incubators – These poultry incubators are the most stress-free to use. These automatic incubators turn eggs on schedule, countdown till hatching day thus they stop turning at Day 18, and control temperature and humidity.

How long to incubate eggs in poultry incubator

The time required for an egg to hatch is dependent mainly on the type of egg. The other main factor that affects is the temperature of the incubator. If the temperature is a little higher than the correct temperature for that kind of egg, the embryo will develop faster than normal and the bird will hatch early. If the temperature is lower than the correct temperature for that kind of egg, the embryo will develop slower than normal and the bird will hatch later than normal.  Neither case is ideal.  You should always target having eggs hatch during the target window that is appropriate for that king of the bird.

Incubation methods of poultry incubators

In industrial incubation, there are mainly two commonly used methods of incubation;

  • Single-stage incubation and
  • Multi-stage incubation

In single-stage incubation, the incubator contains eggs of the same embryonic age. The major advantage of single-stage incubation is that climate conditions can be adjusted according to the needs of the entire growing embryo.

In multi-stage incubation, the setter contains eggs of different embryonic ages, generally 3 to 6 age groups. So, climate conditions cannot accurately be adjusted according to the needs of all the growing embryos and a compromise has to be sought to best suit the age groups presented in the setter. In a multi-stage incubation process, the heat produced by the older embryos is used to heat the warmth-demanding younger embryos in the same machine.

Due to different physical demand in Multi-Stage and Single-stage different equipment is required to be successful.

Preparation and start-up of the poultry incubators

For successful hatching keeping the incubator in an appropriate place, not a barn, porch or garage. The room temperature should be between 20°C and 25°C. The suitable room should be well aired but not draughty. Make sure that the machine is not exposed to direct sunlight or placed next to heat sources such as radiators, stoves, etc. The relative humidity should be between 50% and 75%.

It does not store the incubator in rooms where there are chemicals, poisonous, toxic or flammable substances, even in small concentrations, as they negatively affect embryo development. Do not use the incubator where it could be splashed by water or other types of substances. Put the incubator on a flat wooden table. Remove the lid and put it beside the incubator device. Remove the plastic hatching grill that you don’t need at present (it’s necessary only for hatching), make sure that the egg tray supports are correctly in place. And that the steel tongue of the egg turning motor is inserted in the slot of the corresponding tray support. Fill one of the basins up to the rim with lukewarm water. Using one of the openings outside the base of the incubator device, pour in the water slowly. Do not allow water to overflow from the basin and too much liquid would cause an increase in the humidity rate that would lower the percentage of hatching.

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