WHAT IS DRY INCUBATION?
Dry incubation is as exactly as it sounds, incubating eggs without water. Traditionally you would need to add water to thee incubator in order to keep the humidity around 50%-60% during the first 18 days of incubation but with dry incubation you do not need to add any water to the incubation until day 18, right before the hatching process begins.
HOW IT WORKS
The Dry Incubation Method helps to ensure developing chicks lose any excess moisture within the shell and develop adequate air cells by keeping the humidity relatively low during the incubation process.
Developing chicks need to lose about 13% of the moisture within their egg during development to allow for their air cell to grow to the proper size. The air cell is very important to the chick as it will pip into it to access oxygen needed for hatching. The extra space gained by the loss of moisture also allows the chick a wide range of movement which will aid in hatching.
The most common cause of low hatch rates is too high humidity during incubation. If the humidity is too high during incubation the egg with not loose the adequate amount of moisture causing the air cell to remain small which can cause the chick to drown within the egg during hatching.
Humidity is extremely important to the hatching process and it is at this stage that water should be added into the incubator. Raising the humidity right before the hatching process allows the chick to more easily break through the egg membrane and hatch out of the egg.
If water is not added and the humidity remains too low during the hatching process and at the membrane is allowed to dry out then it could ultimately “shrink wrap” the chick, preventing it from hatching.
PREPARING THE INCUBATOR
Preparing your incubator for a dry hatch is basically the same as preparing for any other hatch. First you will need to set up your incubator and let the temperature stabilize around 99.5 degrees for at least 24 hours before adding your eggs. Add in the automatic egg tuner, if you have one. Remove the vent plugs from the incubator. Removing the vent plugs helps to reduce humidity and keep it constant.
SETTING THE EGGS
Once your incubator has reached the proper temperature, it is time to add the eggs. Place the eggs into the egg turner large end up. Eggs are placed large end up as the air cell develops on the top the “large end” and the chick underneath, at the “small end” of the egg.
It is recommended that fertilized eggs be stored at least 3 days before being set to prepare for incubation but fresh eggs can be set as well. Eggs should be set within 7-10 days of being laid.
Chicks typically take 21 days to hatch, depending on the breed. It is important to candle the eggs on days 7, 14 and 18 to monitor the development, or lack of development, of the chick and air cell.
When using the Dry Incubation Method do not add any water to the incubator for the first 18 days. Depending on your climate the incubator should read somewhere between 20%-40% on its own during that time. On day 19, you should add a tablespoon of water at a time until your humidity stabilizes between 65%-75%.
The key to a successful Dry Incubation hatch is to allow the lower humidity of the incubation process aid in the development of the chicks during the first 18 days and the increased humidity to aid the chicks in the hatching process during the final 3 days.
Once hatched chicks should remain in the incubator for 24 hours or until completely dry then they can be moved into the brooder.
Disclaimer: Keep in mind the humidity in the incubator is greatly effected by your climate.