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Artificial incubation of Peafowl



1. Preparation of the incubator


The incubator should be set up and prepared before eggs are set in, independent if you are using an old machine or a new one. The set up has to be done every year.


The following things have to be done:

1. Cleaning and fumigate
2. Temperature set up
3. Humidity set up


The temperature should be checked at different points inside of the  incubator, to make sure, that the heating and/or the ventilator is working properly.
For incubators with forced air circulation you should set the temperature betweeen 37,6 to 37,8 °C and for incubators without forced air circulation the temperature should be 38,3 °C on top of the eggs. You have to take care that the temperature is not higher, otherwise the chicks could have after eclosion deformation of feeds.
You should also check the accuracy of the used incubation thermometer. This you can do in warm water in comparison to a clinical thermometer.


To adjust the humidity it is normally a hygrometer is used, which you normally should adjust every year according to the instructions of the manufacturer.
The humidity should be adjusted between 50 and 55%. This will give you the best success when you are breeding peafowl eggs.



 2. The placement of the incubator


The right placement of the incubator is the basic for constant hatching conditions. At a place where you will have big temperature or humidity variations, it is nearly impossible to get constant conditions. You will also get then during the hatching period frequently variations which will force you to readjust the conditions. This can result in a bad success.


That's why you should place the incubator at a place with constant temperature and humidity conditions. This you normally have in an unheated basement room.



 3. Incubation and Eclosion


Now that the incubator is ready to set in the eggs. The eggs should be set on their sides into the trays of the incubators. All eggs should be marked with the set in date. You should mark the eggs only with pencil. If you will do it with a permanent marker it can kill the embryo.


In the most incubators the eggs are turned automatically +/- 45°. If you will turn manually the eggs two times a day by 180°  you can increase the hatching rate. For this you can mark the eggs on the counter side of the date with a line. This makes it easier to turn the eggs by hand.


The eggs which you put into an incubator should not be older then 7 days. Between the laying day and the start of the incubation they should be kept in an dry room with a temperature of approx. 10 to 12 °C. During this period the eggs should be stored staying on the small side or turned two times a day.


During the incubation the eggs should be candled once a week. Eggs which are dead or not growing normal shall be removed from the incubator. Otherwise there is a risk that other eggs will be contaminate.


After 26 days you should stop to turn the eggs. The best is you will place the eggs then in a special eclosion chamber or incubator. During the hatching period the temperature shall be same, but the humidity shall be increased up to 80 to 85%. This will prevent that the membranes in the eggs will dry, which will make it easier for the chicks.


The chicks will stay approx. 24i hours in the incubator after they are eclosed before they are put into the breeding box.



4. Disadvantages of artificial incubation


Before you decide to do artificial incubation you should be aware about the disadvantages which result in it. When you are breeding you always have the responsibility towards animals. Usually the artificial incubation is used to increase the number of offsprings. There may be situations where it seems useful once, but from our perspective less is mostly. Quality not quantity should be the goal.


1. Conservation / natural nesting instinct

If you do with a species over several generation only artificial incubation, it could happen, then the natural nesting instinct of the hens will be lost. This is especially for endangered species like green peafowl a serious problem and should not happen. As soon as this is happen the animals are for conservation breeden are no longer usable.


2. Breeding failure

Typical errors of artificial incubation are crooked toes and other deformities in the legs. Especially green peafowl are very vulnerable to such breeding failure. Most of them can be minimized by rail to the correct slip again, but for some chicks it don’t helps.
 Such errors occur during the natural incubation only in very rare cases.


3. Death rate

Peacock chicks are very sensitive to stress. Artificial hatched chicks don’t have the possibility to slip under the hen in threatening situations which increases the stress for them. Under this stress the immune system also suffers from the chicks resulting in a significantly higher mortality rate.
A further problem is the lack of movement. From the first day chicks are running long distances with the hen. For this purpose they have no option in artificial breeding usually. The lack of protection of the hen will also mean that they are not moving as much. But it is precisely this movement especially for green peafowl chicks with long-legs enormously important, otherwise they become tendons and joints are not optimally designed which can lead to deformities of the legs.
Who has time to run even with the little ones every day 1 to 2 hours through the aviary?


4. Imprinting defect

Due to the acrificial breeding, the chicks are imprinted on humans. This is initially very nice, as the chicks are very affectionate and tame due to this. Unfortunately, the effect later in the adult age is often very negative.

The wrong imprinting means that the people look for the cocks in the mating season like competitors. Then of course you want to defend their territory against other conspecifics, which in this case are humans. Such attacks are dangerous, especially when it affects children. Such a spur to of a green peafwolw cock is 4-5 cm long and can cause serious injury.