cooling in incubation

For most species in nature, mother birds must occasionally get off the nest in order to find something to eat and drink. This immediately removes the heat source from the eggs, which causes them to cool. The question for electric incubators is: Should we try to replicate this periodic cooling or will the eggs hatch just fine without it? Below is more information on the research that has been done on the topic. Please call Brinsea, the Incubation Specialists, at (888) 667-7009 if you are interested in learning more about best incubation practices. You can also message us on Facebook or Instagram.

Periodic Cooling

It is common knowledge among most bird breeders that eggs can be periodically cooled throughout incubation without any harmful side effects. More recent studies, however, have shown that periodic cooling may actually be beneficial for a chick’s development. Hatch rates may even increase as a result of periodic cooling. A full research paper from 2011 is available if you are interested in more scientific information regarding cooling eggs during incubation.

Periodic cooling in nature is unavoidable, as most birds get off the nest at least once a day. This proves that, if done at the right intervals and for the right amount of time, cooling is not a detriment to the eggs. Mimicking that cooling with an electric incubator can be done with Brinsea’s Advance and EX models of egg incubators. The cooling period can be adjusted depending on the type of egg. If your incubator does not have a cooling feature, the same cooling can be achieved through removing the lid and candling the eggs each day.

In our incubators, the cooling feature functions by turning the heater and low temperature alarm off for a set period of time. This setting can be adjusted in the menu, and the default setting for cooling is OFF. The fan continues running during the cooling period, and once the cycle ends the heater will turn back on and the low temperature alarm will be reset. 

Recommended Cooling

Through research conducted by Brinsea, the recommended cooling period varies by egg size and species. For smaller poultry, waterfowl, and game birds, we recommend that those eggs be cooled for 30 minutes each day starting at day 7 of the incubation period. Two days before the eggs are due to hatch the cooling should be turned off, along with the automatic turning feature. 

Not enough research has been done regarding the eggs of parrots and birds of prey to give a good estimate of the recommended cooling period. However, your own research and experimentation can be done if you are interested in learning more about the effects of cooling on certain eggs. 

Research

Different research has been done over the years that can be used to support the idea that periodic cooling is beneficial for avian species during incubation. 

Written by Tatyana Kolokolnikov, Andrei Dymkov, Sergey Borisenko, and Alexey Kavtarashvili, a research paper titled Method of Increasing Bird Adaptation in the Early Stages of Embryogenesis asserts that “[t]he developed egg cooling scheme of meat and egg-laying crosses during the incubation period allowed us to increase the hatchability rate by reducing the amount of incubation waste.”

Authors Andreas Nord and Sylvain Giroud wrote Lifelong Effects of Thermal Challenges During Development in Birds and Mammals outlines the long-term effects of periodic egg cooling. Poultry may be better suited for significant weather changes in adulthood due to egg cooling, owing to “the environmental matching hypothesis, showing that thermal acclimation in early life . . . improves the capacity to meet matched stimuli in adulthood.” More research needs to be done in this area for conclusive results, however.

In Fertility and Hatchability in Goose Eggs: A Review by Attila Salamon, goose eggs are examined and it is found that “[t]he cooling is particularly important from day 15 of incubation when the embryo starts to produce heat due to its metabolism, thus the temperature of the egg is continuously higher than the temperature inside the incubator.” Chicken eggs also increase their metabolic heat later in incubation, which is why some breeders will even recommend lowering the temperature of the incubator.

Contact Us

For questions or comments regarding cooling in incubation, please feel free to reach out to Brinsea Products via phone at (888) 667-7009. You can also message us on Facebook or Instagram. We would love to hear your thoughts and any experience you have with periodic cooling!