In a month or so I will be hatching some eggs and I will walk you through the process . But I wanted to put this post and printable incubation records out there in one post that would be easy for you to find as a reference.
If you’ve hatched eggs for a while, you might not need to keep records. You might be able to just run on auto-pilot turning eggs and checking temperature and humidity. But for newbies learning how to incubate eggs, keeping track of what you’ve done and when can be a valuable tool. If you breed chickens and want to track the hatchability of eggs from a particular hen and rooster this is also important. I use two separate record sheets when I’m incubating eggs. The first is a record of when I turned eggs and what the temperature and humidity were doing at that time, and the second is to record candling observations and egg weights.
If you use a turner, you still need to check on your eggs regularly. The temperature should be kept as close to 99.5 as possible. Short term temperature fluctuations (half an hour or so) are not a problem, but temperatures need to be brought back into line as soon as possible. A temperature just a couple of degrees to high or low for an extended time (hours or days) can severely affect your hatch rate. Humidity should be kept below 50% for the first 18 days. You can keep a closer tab on how humidity should be adjusted by weighing your eggs and using the calculation below to determine if humidity should be higher or lower. The final days of incubation (18-21) are called lockdown. During that time, humidity needs to be bumped up to 75%-80%. Because you want to keep that humidity consistently high, you stop turning the eggs and avoid opening the incubator at all.
Here are two record sheets you can print for your own use. The first is useful if you are turning your eggs three times per day, and the second if you are turning them five times per day. When I’m logging turns, I also make a little arrow above the time to keep track of which direction I turned the eggs (It isn’t good to always turn the same direction, you want to alternate).
At first candling eggs can be confusing. It’s hard to see much through the shell. Descriptions online of what you should see are a little hard to understand, and most candling pictures aren’t the best quality. Basically, you are looking for consistent growth. Also, compare them to one another. If one egg has a small shadow, and the rest are all nearly full (at the last candling) it’s likely that chick stopped developing early and will not hatch. Below is a sheet to record your observations when you candle and weigh your eggs. You will need to print one sheet for each dozen eggs you are incubating. The last page is an instruction sheet, which includes instructions for weighing eggs and calculating weight loss. This is valuable information for adjusting humidity.