How to maintain the perfect humidity levels in an incubator for chicken eggs

If you are a hobby farmer like me who is proud of the chicken that you got from hatching, you know something about the humidity levels in incubators. Patience and care are the most important parts of maintaining the right humidity level in an incubator for chicken eggs.

At the same time, you must know how to do the right things at the exact time. For all these reasons, we’ve created a list of questions that will answer your inquiries when it comes to proper hatching. Here are the answers that might change the way you hatch eggs – it did for me.

What is the ideal temperature and humidity for hatching chicken eggs?

When it comes to the ideal temperature for hatching chicken eggs, the official recommendation is between 99.5 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37,5 – 37,8 degrees Celcius). Keeping the temperature at this level will increase the chances for the chicken to develop during the hatching process. When it comes to humidity, the situation depends on many circumstances. Humidity is crucially important for the development of the eggs and that is why many farmers undertake serious actions to maintain the right humidity levels.

On most occasions, keeping the humidity levels around 55 % will positively impact the overall hatching process. Humidity should increase in the last three days of hatching. In the last three days, the humidity level should be about 65 %. This is an ideal level for the overall development of the egg in the last days of hatching. If you want to increase humidity, you can apply different techniques.

Incubator temperatureIncubator humidity level
Level99.5 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit 37,5 – 37,8 degrees Celcius55 % 65 % after day 19

  One of the most popular techniques for increasing humidity levels is keeping the hot water inside the incubators. Hot water will produce hot air and the humidity will be instantly increased. In this manner, you can see how humidity plays an important role in egg development. Your future chickens will get the necessary moisture during the most important three days of their egg life. With the right temperature and the proper humidity levels, you can expect the chickens to be well developed and healthy when they come to the world.

How do you control humidity in an incubator?

The best way to control humidity in an incubator is by using a hygrometer. As part of the tools you will need in hatching, a hygrometer is crucial if you want to maintain the right levels of humidity. Before measuring humidity, you should prepare the incubator for the right measurement. It is not advisable to check the humidity levels right after the installation of the incubator. Instead, you should take the necessary steps to get a stable temperature and moisture level.

Starting up your incubator for the first time

First of all, you should follow the directions of your incubator’s model when it comes to adding water and turning it on. If you have a forced-air incubator, set the temperature at 100 degrees Fahrenheit and see how the temperature stabilizes in the next few minutes. In case you have a still air incubator, the initial temperature should be 102 degrees Fahrenheit. This is only the initial temperature, and you must take a few minutes before measuring the humidity levels in an incubator.

Take your hygrometer and measure the humidity in different periods. In the beginning, the humidity will be more than 60%, but in the perfect situation, the humidity level should be around 55%. This is the stage when you can start putting eggs inside the incubator.

Some incubators come with built-in thermometers and hygrometers, and this is an ideal combination because you don’t have to buy the tools separately. It is enough to take a look at the presented values and decide whether to take the additional steps or not. If you use your wet-bulb thermometer, you may see a radical difference in humidity per cent. On a wet-bulb thermometer, you can read 85 to 87 degrees Fahrenheit in humidity as part of the 100-degree incubator temperature. This reading correspondents to 55% to 60% humidity with standard measurements.

No matter if you use a wet-bulb thermometer or preinstalled hygrometers, your incubator should maintain the best humidity levels all the time. It is crucially important to control humidity in an incubator because the eggs hatching hugely depends on the right values.

Why do eggs hatch in humidity?

Humidity is the source of moisture in eggs. When the moisture is on a certain level, you can see how the overall development of the egg becomes more predictable. The process of embryo development is tightly connected to the levels of humidity in the incubator. Embryos require oxygen that comes through the shell, and to get the oxygen from the air in the incubator, the humidity and ventilation must be at the right level.

Ventilation allows air to circulate inside the incubator. With this circulation, the air gets its structure and temperature. Humidity happens when the air is exposed to water surface areas. Only the humidity process can enrich the air with water. Eggs get oxygen thanks to the right air circulation. At the same time, eggs remove carbon dioxide from the shell.

When the eggs hatch, they require a lot of oxygen. Therefore, you must maintain a constant supply of fresh oxygen. This is possible only if you maintain the best combination of ventilation and humidity. With the increase of airflow, your egg embryos will get more oxygen and the process of embryo development will be as expected. Try to always think about the moisture in the air, because this kind of humidity affects the egg embryos the most. With the right combination of all the factors, you can see the right egg hatching.

What if the humidity is too high in the incubator?

If the humidity is too high in the incubator, eggs “dry out” more slowly. Eggs will have lost too little moisture. As a result, we will find the chick too large and unable to breathe inside the air space. When humidity is too high, the air space becomes too little and we get a large chick that struggles to crack the shell and go out.

In case the humidity is too high, we have a situation where the water loss is too little. This could be very damaging for the chick because the overall space inside the shell is significantly reduced. It is always good to maintain the right amount of humidity during the entire process of hatching. Only with the optimal levels of humidity, the chick will be healthy and properly balanced.

How do you reduce humidity?

One of the best ways to reduce humidity in an incubator is to open the ventilation. The excess air will lower the moisture particles in the air, which will affect the overall humidity level. When you open the ventilation, it is also good to remove the water from an incubator. If your water remains in the incubator, the moisture combined with excess air can cause trouble.

If you live in a very humid area, your incubators might also attract more humidity from the outside. It is best to keep the incubators in rooms where the natural humidity is lower, so you can control the humidity levels more accurately. Ventilation plays the most important role in the instant reduction of humidity. The overall selection of the right ventilation system can change the way you see hatching. Choose the systems that allow you to have more venting options as part of the ventilation system.

Giving more ventilation to your eggs will also increase the oxygen in the exact embryos. When the ventilation process is right, your embryos will have more possibilities to develop. Reduced humidity is always a good option when the high levels start to affect the egg cells. That is why the right measurements and proper air conditioning play a crucial role in every stage of hatching.

What happens if the humidity is too low in an incubator?

If the humidity is too low in an incubator, you will have small chicks at the end. Low levels of humidity are usually leading to the development of small chicks due to the lack of moisture in the air. Eggs are losing too much moisture because of the lack of moisture in the air. At the same time, the air space remains too big, and the embryos have to regulate their cell processes to remain alive. As a result, we get little chicks that are smaller in size than the chicks that have had normal levels of humidity.

In general, it is best to have normal humidity levels during the entire process of hatching. However, lower humidity is better than higher humidity because the air space inside the shell is crucial for the overall embryo development. In the situation of higher humidity, this space is smaller for the chick and the lack of air can lead to respiratory problems afterwards. If the space is too big, as in the case of lower humidity, the chick will remain a little smaller, but the overall air and respiratory system won’t be affected too heavily.

To maintain safe levels of humidity, you should check humidity levels with each temperature change. If you experience huge temperature changes in weather, it is best to constantly monitor the temperature and humidity in your incubators. This way, you can react if the levels go up or down during the short periods. Checking your humidity and temperature levels will also give you more peace of mind in the last three days of hatching. This is the period where your attention must be focused on the relevant parameters inside the incubator.

How do I raise the humidity in my egg incubator?

You can raise the humidity in your egg incubator in two ways.

One of them is placing the water container inside the incubator. This method is useful if you want to increase the humidity level in a larger portion during a short period. In case you want to instantly increase the humidity by applying small amounts of water, it is best to go for a second option. It is using an atomizer to spray a small amount of water into the ventilating holes of the incubator. This way, your humidity levels increase and the eggs get the necessary amounts of moisture.

Maintaining high humidity during hatching is crucially important for the overall growth of the chicks. If you manage to raise the humidity in your egg incubator, you will be able to get better hatching results. Chicks are strongly influenced by the humidity in your egg incubator and this could be a point that can change the end of the hatching process.

When to raise the humidity in my egg incubator?

You know that the three days before hatching are the right time to raise the humidity in an egg incubator. It is around day 19 when the first chick could start to pip and this is the moment to raise the humidity. Go from the standard humidity level of about 55% to an increased level of about 65%.

At the same time, keep your ventilation at least a third of the way open so the new chicks can come out of the shell more easily. They will need more air and more humidity in this final stage of hatching. As you see them struggling to find their way through the shell, be patient, and try not to give a hand too much. Many hobby farmers cannot resist the temptation to remove the shell manually when the chick starts to pop out. It is a mistake as most chicks can find their way of popping the eggshell.

Try to keep the humidity level at the best levels during the whole process of hatching and see how your chicks go out well and strong. Humidity comes as the most important factor in hatching, and that is why proper actions can change the way you use eggs and incubators. Regular checking of humidity level, temperature, and airflow will make the hatching much more successful. In the end, you will be able to see all those little chickens coming out as the winners.

Enjoy these little creatures as they come out healthy and ready for new challenges.