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Incubating tips

'Tis the time of year when teachers are setting up incubators in the classroom. Beware. There's lots of conflicting information out there.

An excellent source of information is Mississippi State University's Professor Tom Smith: www.msstate.edu/dept/poultry/

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hatch.htm. In an interview, Dr. Smith offered additional advice:

*Most instructions tell you to stop turning the eggs on the 18th day. Recent studies show that you will get a better hatch if you stop turning them on the 15th day.

*It's a myth that chicks won't survive if you help them out of their eggs. You can help, but timing must be right. If a chick has pipped (broken through the egg) but seems stuck, wait about 12 hours before helping. If you see blood while removing the shell, stop and wait. Don't help a chick hatch if it hasn't pipped.

*Err on the side of too-low temperature. Eggs will still hatch, albeit late, if the temperature is too low. But if the temperature goes over 103 degrees F., you can kill the chicks, reduce the hatch, or have chicks with developmental problems.

*Place a humidifier in the room if you're having difficulty raising the humidity. Condensation on the viewing window indicates too much humidity.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society