Hatching Chicken Eggs
Hatching chicken eggs does not have to be expensive, and it does not have to be time-consuming. With some knowledge and planning, you, too, can enjoy the process of hatching chicken eggs in no time at all.
One of the best ways to increase the number of your flock is to hatch your own eggs. For many of those who raise their own chickens at home this is also one of the most exciting parts of the endeavor. Nothing brings more pride to the home-grower than watching new chicks spring out of their eggs. But, you need to be prepared for this process.
If you are hatching chicken eggs then you probably already have a coop or hen house in place. What you need now is an incubator and a brooder.
There are many types of incubators on the market today and any electric model that is built well will serve you well. The brooder is used once the chicks have left the egg.
Once you place a fertilized egg under the incubator, it will normally take about 21 days before the chick comes out. Each model of incubator has its own instructions, and it is very important that you follow them. Generally, the temperature should be kept constant at around 99 degrees Fahrenheit.
A good tip that can save you a lot of disappointment is to have the incubator running at this temperature at least one day before you plan to place the eggs into it. Not only does this allow the environment to get up to the right temperature, but it also allows you to check for problems before committing the eggs. This can be especially important if your model has an automatic turning device for the eggs. Make sure it is working!
For those new to hatching chicken eggs, if your incubator does not have an automatic egg turner, you will have to do this yourself, three times a day, by hand.
If the incubator does have the automatic turner, make sure you always place your eggs into the holders with the smaller end of the egg down. Chicks need air and they get that air from the bubble that is created in the larger end. Placing your eggs “big side down” will most likely kill them.
Quality incubators come with a thermometer and this needs to be checked at least once a day. Do not allow the temperature to drop below 99 degrees or allow it to get above 99.5 degrees. This is very important.
When you shop for incubators, look for those that have two troughs for water. These troughs are important. One of the troughs will be in the middle of the incubator and the other will run around the sides.
Make sure you keep the trough that is in the middle filled with water during the first fourteen days. The other is left dry during this time. At two weeks, both troughs will need to be kept full of water.
On day 18, remove the eggs from the turner and put them on the wire mesh that is normally included. Do not turn the eggs anymore. The chicks will hatch naturally, and it is important that you allow this to happen. It can take as much as a full day for a chick to get out of its egg, and you must not interfere. Pulling the chick out by hand can kill it.
After the chick is out of the shell, let it dry before moving it to the brooder box.
You can buy a brooder box or you can make your own. If you make your own, get a nice cardboard box and fill the bottom of it with some newspaper or some dry sawdust. It is important that you have a heat lamp overhead to keep the chicks warm. You will also need to have water and food for them. Commercial chick feed is your best option when it comes to feeding them.
And that’s about it. Hatching chicken eggs becomes easier the more you do it. In no time, you will feel like a pro at this easy and worthwhile task.