My chicks have hatched! I asked my “Chicken Lady” a.k.a my cousin, to write a post on how to hatch your own chicks, as it is something I know nothing about (yet!). Thanks to her, my seven little chicks are quite happy, chirping away in their brooder box in my loft above the kitchen.
Hatching your own chicks.
One of the excitements of raising chickens is hatching your own fluffy baby chicks.
There are lots of things to consider before deciding to hatch your own chicks. I was honestly terrified when someone offered me hatching eggs to start my flock and decided to go with already hatched chicks. Since then, I have hatched 2 batches of eggs, and it is not as scary or hard as you might think!
Your 1st step is to choose a good incubator.
Incubators have come a long way, and now you can purchase a good quality small incubator to hatch 7 to 10 eggs for $70 to $130. An accurate temperature control is key to a successful hatch, so be sure to read lots of reviews on any incubator you are thinking of purchasing so you can be sure you are purchasing a reliable one.
There are many styles and models to choose from. I prefer the plastic models to the Styrofoam for ease of cleaning after hatching. There are also still air and circulated air models. Basically, the circulated air models have a little fan that blows the warm air around ensuring the whole incubator is evenly heated. You can also choose between incubators that will automatically turn your eggs and ones that you manually have to turn. The automatic turners are a bit more pricey, so it’s up to you to decide if you want to remember to turn the eggs at least 3 times a day, or have it done for you.
My 1st hatch I used the Brinsea Mini Advance that I borrowed from an aunt. This model comes with digital controls and is very easy to operate. The auto turner did not work, so I had to open the incubator 3 times a day and manually rotate the turning disk. The mini holds 7 eggs, and all hatched with no issues. This is a very good incubator for first timers.
Chicks in the first incubator.
My 2nd hatch I upgraded to the Brinsea Octagon 20. This one holds 24 eggs, and it’s octagon shape allows you to simply tilt the incubator from side to side for egg rotation. This model comes with no digital display and has a simple, old school thermometer for reading temps. I did have to adjust the temp on this model almost everyday to try and keep it in the needed temp range of 99.3 – 99.6 degrees. Of the 24 eggs I started with, 20 hatched successfully with 3 that did not develop and 1 that didn’t manage to hatch out.
Brinsea Octagon 20 incubator with 24 eggs.
Both models come with water reservoirs for humidity, which is key for a successful hatch. Once you have your incubator. it is time to start gathering eggs for hatching.
When selecting eggs, be sure to choose eggs that are not misshaped or excessively dirty. Store eggs in a cool, dry place until you have enough gathered to put in the incubator. Eggs can be stored for up to a week before their chances of hatching start diminishing. Be sure to tilt the eggs to different sides at least 3 times a day so the embryo doesn’t get stuck to one side. Eggs flats work well for this. Be sure to always store eggs fat end up and pointy end down.
Eggs all ready to hatch!
Once you have all your eggs gathered, it’s time to get them set in the incubator.
Before setting the eggs, turn on your incubator for a few hours to allow it to get up to temperature. Once it is up to temp, go ahead and add your eggs. Make sure their fat end is higher than their pointy end. Add water to the reservoir and close the lid and you are ready to go!
And the waiting begins!
Subscribe below for Part Two! What happens once they’re in the incubator? Find out what’s your next step!