Hatching eggs at home can be a fun project for those looking to grow their backyard flocks. Incubating chicken eggs is a 21-day process and requires an egg incubator to help control temperature, humidity and egg turning. The incubation period for a chicken egg should not be more than 22 days – usually the chicken egg hatching process ends in 21 days. 8: When to turn the eggs: You should turn the eggs three times a day – once in the morning, then afternoon and then at night before going to bed. A standard chicken egg will incubate for 21 days before hatching. On the 21st day, the chick will peck its way out of the shell if it has grown properly and has all of the strength needed. The incubation temperature should be about 99.5 to 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure optimal chicken egg hatching times and a healthy development cycle. Watch a baby chicken hatch from its egg. The video is about 4 min long and worth the viewing. Nature at is best. Farm life living at Reid Ranch Farm.
It has already been established that chickens and eggs which are raised at home are superior in just about every way in another one of our articles. In this one, we will be providing some advice for beginner chicken farmers. More specifically, we will be discussing how to raise your chicken eggs and hatch them.
While it may sound like a complicated process, you will find that hatching your eggs is not as difficult as it may appear to the uninitiated. More than anything, the hatching process consists of being patient and waiting, while ensuring that the eggs are in a healthy environment so the chicks can grow.
Choosing The Right Incubator
You will find that a critical decision in raising your chicken eggs is finding the right model of egg incubator. A poor quality incubator can result in the eggs never hatching at all, so it is important to invest in an incubator which is both reliable and sufficiently affordable.
Thankfully, we have a host of reviews related to chicken incubators on this very site. If you need an incubator, simply browse through our reviews or buying guides to find the best ones for your needs. Be sure to read the reviews thoroughly, as minor nuances can have a rather large effect when it comes to chicken egg incubators.
Chicken Egg Development
Much of the reproductive process of a chicken takes place outside of the body, which is quite unlike humans, where all of it takes place internally. The yolk of a chicken egg plays the same role as the ovum of a human female, being produced by the hen’s ovary.
Once the yolk is fertilized by a male chicken, it will continue through the hen’s reproductive system until the white of the egg develops around it. Once the egg’s white has been fully formed, the shell of the egg is the last part to be developed.
Once the egg shell has been formed, the chicken proceeds to lay the egg. This is where your incubator comes into play. While wild chickens incubate their eggs by sitting on them, you will find that an egg incubator drastically increases of the egg eventually hatching with no issue.
How Long For Chicken Eggs To Hatch?
A standard chicken egg will incubate for 21 days before hatching. On the 21st day, the chick will peck its way out of the shell if it has grown properly and has all of the strength needed.
The incubation temperature should be about 99.5 to 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure optimal chicken egg hatching times and a healthy development cycle. If your chickens don't hatch by the 21st day, you should leave them at least two more days just to make sure that there aren't any late bloomers.
Hatch Day Tips
When hatch day comes along, it helps to know what to do, so that you can be prepared for most eventualities. The first thing to expect is for things to go wrong. Even given the perfect environment, some eggs may simply not end up hatching. While it can be sad, it is the way of things.
Pipping is when your chick starts to break through the shell of the egg. You will want to keep pipped eggs in the incubator and near other eggs. The sound of other chicks chirping will encourage their little brothers and sisters to start making their way out of their eggs.
Make sure that you keep the chicks in the incubator once they have hatched to give them a chance to dry off, as they can die of hypothermia if they are left out while wet. Be sure to handle your newborn chicks very delicately, as they will still be quite weak and you don’t want to inadvertently hurt them.
If there are any problems with some of the eggs, you will want to leave them for a couple of days, as mentioned before. Candling may help you determine whether or not the chicks inside of them are still alive. If they do not end up hatching, you may wish to open up the eggs to see the stage at which things went wrong.
We hope that this guide has answered any questions you may have had about the egg hatching process for chicken eggs. We have tried to cover everything we could in the shortest amount of space possible. If there are any questions, feel free to leave them down below.
That time of year is almost upon us again – hatching season!
Many of us get the hatching bug and long to hatch out some of our own chicks – after all, they are very fuzzy, cute and endearing.
In our guide below we cover everything you need to know about hatching eggs; from setting up the incubator to what to do on hatching day, we have it all covered.
Choosing Between an Incubator and a Broody Hen
This is your first decision to make. If you have a hen that loves to go broody every year and will sit on the eggs for the required number of days (21 for chicks), she is the best show in town.
A broody hen will sit on those eggs and keep them warm, even plucking her breast feathers so that the eggs can touch her skin. She will turn those eggs around 50 times every day; she will also talk to the chicks through the shell so that her chicks imprint on her voice and will know who Mama is when they hatch.
Anyone who has seen a broody hen in action knows she will defend her nest with a mothers’ devotion – mind your fingers!
She is also much cheaper and easier than an incubator to operate.
Possibly the only downside to having a hen hatch your chicks for you is that they aren’t quite as friendly to you as they would be coming from an incubator – after all, you aren’t Mama.
If you choose to use an incubator rather than a hen, it does have some advantages, but also requires your attention daily (at least) for 21 days and beyond.
It should maintain a constant temperature between 99-102°F (99.5°F is considered optimal) and a humidity of 50-60%.
So you have to check the temperature and water daily. If your area is prone to power outages, then have a plan B in mind – a couple of hours shouldn’t be too bad but any longer could be disastrous.
When the chicks hatch the first thing they see is you – that makes you Mama. These chicks will be friendlier than hen raised chicks. They will rely on you to water, feed and protect them until they are old enough to be on their own.
Where To Find Fertilized Eggs?
Your next decision is where to get your fertilized eggs from. If your flock has a rooster you need look no further. If he is performing his duties your hens should be laying fertilized eggs.
If you don’t have a rooster, what’s next? Do you have a friend that would give or sell you some fertilized eggs? If so – go and fetch them yourself and bring them home as gently as possible, eggs do not travel well.
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Your third choice is to buy from a breeder or hatchery that sells the eggs you want. Please bear in mind – eggs do not travel well – yes, I’m repeating myself but this is important to realize.
If you are hatching a rare breed and have paid a lot of money for the eggs it’s very disappointing to have few if any hatches and it’s not always fair to blame the breeder.
For example; you buy your eggs from California and you live in New York. Those eggs have to get from the farm to the Post Office where they are sorted (not gently either) into the appropriate bin. They are then taken to the airport and flown to your nearest airport.
At the airport they are picked up by the mail carrier and taken to the nearest post office where you will collect them.
I don’t know about you but after a long plane ride I always feel a bit scrambled – so do your eggs.
You will need to let them sit for at least 12 hours in a cool place with the pointed end downwards. Candle them if you like to see if the yolk is still intact. On a personal note, I have never had good success with shipped hatching eggs.
Since these eggs are from a different environment, it is worth sanitizing the eggs so they don’t bring any ‘nasties’ with them. You can use a sanitizing solution and water to do this.
Setting Up an Incubator
Choosing an incubator can be daunting, there are many different types out there and cost can range from just under $100.00 to several hundred, depending on what you want.
We have a complete guide to incubators here.
If you are hatching out ‘barnyard mixes’ and are going to be diligent about temperature and humidity, one of the cheaper circulated air (forced air) incubators may do you very well. Some of my best hatches have been with these cheaper models!
If you are hatching slightly more expensive or rare breeds, a step up to a something like a Brinsea may be better for you.
Remember, you really don’t need lots of bells and whistles on the incubator. You want something that will do the job well and that you can easily use and understand.
How To Set It Up
There is a short list of requirements for your incubator, so here is your check list:
- Incubator (with turning rack)
- Candling device
- Paper towels
The first thing to do is plug everything in and make sure the incubator and turning tray is working. Leave it on for several hours to make sure it comes up to temperature and humidity.
While you are waiting make sure you read and understand all the instructions that come with the equipment.
Although your incubator may have a thermometer and hygrometer already built in, it’s wise to double check with another thermometer/hygrometer. You can buy cheap digital ones online for under $10.00.
You will use the water to fill the water chamber as directed by the instructions – paper towels are for the inevitable mess.
Go to book – Hatching and Brooding your Own Chicks by Gail Damerow. This book will prove invaluable to you. It gives tips and tricks, sensible advice, clear concise information and a section that tells you ‘what went wrong’. I would not be without it.
How To Incubate Eggs
So, you have your incubator running, temperature and humidity are set, water trough filled – now to place your eggs! A turning tray makes it easy to place your eggs, but how do you position them?
The most consistent train of thought is that you place your eggs with the pointed end angled down, the egg should not be upright but lying slightly to the side – as it would be in a natural birds nest. Before placing your eggs they should all have been checked over for hairline cracks and any shell deformities. You can candle the egg to do this.
Eggs that are difficult to tell top from bottom, or long and narrow, should not be used as they are less likely to hatch.
Your eggs are placed, now close the lid and begin your countdown!
You will need to check the temperature and humidity in about an hour or so to ensure that everything has stabilized; adjust your settings accordingly and recheck if necessary.
Daily visual checks should be done to make sure the water level is ok and the temperature and humidity are correct. You may have to adjust the air vents on your incubator to maintain correct levels.
Caution: do not keep opening and closing the incubator. This causes temperature fluctuations which will affect your hatch rates…be patient!
This awesome video gives you a great idea of what is going on in the egg during those 21 days.
What To Do On Hatching Day
Day 18 is known as ‘lockdown’ day. This is the day when you make sure the egg turner is turned off and set the eggs on the level surface tray of the incubator.
Once you have checked that the water level is sufficient and ventilation is at the right level, put the lid on and leave it alone!
Do not open the lid, move the incubator or jostle it around, this is a critical period. The chick is getting into position ready to ‘pip’ the shell and emerge, so it needs to be left quietly to align itself.
For more information on what happens after hatching read here.
FAQs about Hatching Chicken Eggs
How Long Does it Take For an Egg to Hatch?
It will vary by species – chickens are 21 days; ducks 28 days; turkeys about 28 days; guineas 28 days and geese 30 days.
Do All The Eggs Hatch At Once?
No, but they are usually all done with 24-48 hours of the first pipping. Some hatches can last up to 4 or 5 days though.
An Egg Has Exploded, What Do I Do?
The egg exploded because it had bacteria in it. The best you can do is clean out the incubator thoroughly (keep the eggs warm) and if eggs are contaminated clean them off as best you can without removing the ‘bloom’.
What Temperature Should The Incubator Be Set To?
With chicken eggs your incubator should be set to 99.5°F.
This has been a whistle stop tour of hatching. We have hit the highlights but there is so much else to learn about hatching out your own chicks.
I really recommend that you read as much as you can about it before you try it. It will make you more confident about knowing what to do and how to do it.
It is unlikely that you will get a 100% hatch rate – even the professionals don’t. There are many reasons for that so don’t beat your-self up. Reading about failures to hatch and the reasons behind it will help you to understand that so much goes into the process of hatching an egg that whatever you did is not likely to be the cause.
Good luck with your hatching adventures and send up some pictures of your chicks too!
An Egg Hatching Meaning
The Egg Hatching Process
Let us know in the comments section below your experiences with hatching eggs…