Hatching chicken eggs is one of the best practices every chicken keeper should know. When it is done at home, hatching can help you save a lot of money you would spend looking for new chicks.
Here is everything you need to know about hatching eggs at home. Now, what do I need to know about hatching chicken eggs?
There’s a lot to know about the entire process of hatching chicken eggs, especially when doing it at home. In fact, the whole project is fun and quite enjoyable if you know what to do.
The ultimate goal here is to increase your flock of chickens at home through the incubation process.
On average, the hatching process takes three weeks or 21 days if all conditions are conducive. This means you should to have first-hand information about the conditions necessary for eggs to hatch.
These include controlled temperature, the right humidity, and regular egg turning regularly to ensure uniform heat distribution.
When these conditions are correct, you can rest assured that your eggs will hatch after three weeks or a little longer.
A Complete Guide to Hatching Chicken Eggs
One of the fundamental principles to know about hatching chicken eggs is to find the source of fertile eggs and chick starter feed.
Of course, without fertile eggs, you cannot have successful hatching, no matter how hard you try. So, make sure that you obtain your eggs from a reliable source.
This way, you will be pretty sure of the fertility of those eggs you are about to place in the incubator for hatching.
Don’t make the mistake of acquiring your eggs from your local grocery. This is because those eggs might not be fertile, contrary to your expectations.
If you are a newcomer in keeping chickens, you should consider acquiring your eggs from a reputed hatchery or poultry farmers who keep roosters alongside their hens.
Also, make sure that the eggs you are about to hatch have been certified to help you minimize cases of diseases among your flock of birds.
Before the actual incubation process, you are advised to keep the fertilized eggs for one week in a cool, dry room at a steady temperature of 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
This does not mean you keep the eggs in the refrigerator unless you want to destroy them.
Once you place the eggs in the incubator, they will likely develop in three weeks (21 days), provided the incubator has the right settings.
Sometime before your chicks hatch, make sure that you have enough stock of chick starter feed.
This will help your newly hatched chicks to access their diets immediately after they are hatched and taken to their brooder.
The choice of the chick starter feed is determined solely by the type of flock you are keeping.
Setting Up the Egg Incubator
An egg incubator comes in handy to help you hatch fertilized eggs. This device plays a very important role where hens are not necessarily needed in hatching.
A typical incubator is usually an enclosed structure complete with a heater and fan to keep the fertilized eggs warm in the course of a three-week incubation period.
When purchasing the right incubator, it is recommended that you settle for a device with some automatic features.
Such as those that help in egg turning and a fan to assist in the even distribution of heat in the incubator.
Once you have everything ready for hatching, your incubator should be ready a week before the arrival of eggs to be hatched.
Start by cleaning it using 10% bleach solution to remove all germs, followed by soapy water (warm) and then finish with a thorough rinse to ensure that your incubator is well sanitized.
When you are done cleaning your incubator, ensure that it is dry before turning it on. Then thoroughly inspect every facility component, starting with the temperature and humidity levels.
This exercise will help you know if your incubator is working well. After the inspection, take the incubator to an area designated for hatching.
Also, the incubator must have constant ambient temperatures with no cases of the draft.
However, you need to know that temperature and humidity within the incubator are the most important factors influencing successful egg hatching.
With that in mind, you should make crucial adjustments to the temperature and humidity until you are sure the conditions are perfect for hatching.
Here are the suggested parameters for your egg incubator:
- The optimum temperature: 100.5F
- Temperature range: from 99 to 102 F
Facts to Remember
Never let the temperature in the incubator drop below 99F. Also, don’t allow temperatures of 102F in the incubator to last longer than recommended.
And finally, double-check the thermometer inside the incubator using a clinical thermometer to compare the readings and ensure that the gauge works normally.
The relative humidity during day 1 to 17 should be 50 to 55%. This is equivalent to the wet-bulb temperature of about 85 to 87F.
Apart from that, keep all water channels within the incubator full for better humidification.
Relative humidity from day 18 to 21 should be raised to 70%. Using the hygrometer, ensure that humidity levels in the incubator are correct across the incubation period.
You can only open your incubator when it is necessary to do so. Otherwise, keep it sealed to preserve the conditions for hatching eggs into new chicks.
After a while, increase ventilation for proper air circulation to help embryos inside the egg grow bigger.
These are the only conditions recommended for hatching fertilized eggs for chickens.
But if you are looking forward to hatching eggs from other birds, it is prudent that you change the incubation times and specifications to suit that particular bird.
This should tell you you are not supposed to hatch your chicken eggs with other birds using the same settings and specifications in an incubator.
Here is a summary of what you should expect during the hatching process:
- On Day 1-Setting the fertilized eggs in the incubator
- Day 1 to 18-rotating or turning the eggs
- On Day 7 to 10-Candling the fertilized eggs to determine the growth of embryos
- Day 18 to 21-Pre-hatching to prepare the already grown chicks for hatching
- On Day 21-The, chicks start to hatch, although it might take a little longer than you would expect.
General Rules for Hatching Chicken Eggs
- Do not place fewer than 6 eggs in an incubator. This rule reminds you that chickens prefer being in their flock. Thus they need each other’s company to stay happy and comfortable.
- Chicken eggs take three weeks or 21 days to hatch when conditions in the incubator are favorable. But some eggs may take longer depending on the temperature with which they were incubated.
- Ensure that the still-air temperature incubator is maintained at 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit when it is measured right at the top of your eggs. Alternatively, the forced-air incubators should have a constant temperature of 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit to facilitate hatching.
- You should turn the eggs in the incubator until day 18, after which you can stop to let the chicks position themselves for hatching.
- Wash your hands manually when you turn the eggs to avoid transferring oils and bacteria onto the eggs’ surfaces.
- Make it a habit of turning the eggs at least three times daily at regular intervals.
- When arranging the eggs for hatching, ensure they are placed with their large end facing up.
- Maintain humidity in the incubator at 40 to 50% during the first 18 days of hatching. From day 18 onwards, you may raise the humidity to a level not exceeding 70%.
- The moment you notice a pip on the egg. Don’t get alarmed if it takes a while for the chick to come out. Additionally, never try to help the new chicks out of their shell by pulling on your own.
- Open the incubator gradually during the hatching to let out humidity to make the hatching successful.
How long does an egg take to hatch?
The time it takes for an egg to hatch depends on the individual species. The chickens will take an average of 21 days or three weeks.
Turkeys will take about four weeks or 28 days; ducks 28 days. Geese will take a month or 30 days and guineas 28 days.
Do all the chicken eggs hatch at the same time?
No, they hatch at slightly different times. Even though they take an average of 21 days to hatch, some will extend the time by 24 or 48 hours after the initial pipping in the shell.
Some hatches may take 4 to 5 days after the initial 21-hatching period has elapsed.
That’s all you need to know about hatching chicken eggs, although there are minor details that emerge once you get started with the project.
With this information at the back of your mind, you can successfully set up the incubator and have your new chicks hatched after the 21-hatching period.
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