10 Tips for Successfully Hatching Chicken Eggs

"It's happening Dad!!  The baby chick is hatching," my daughter screamed as she watched in delight.  There is nothing as exciting and exhausting as a baby chick hatching.  

Why exhausting?  It can take 24 hours for a baby chick to peck through their little egg shell.  That is a long time for a tiny creature to finally come into the world.

We've hatched so many eggs, we've lost count.  That's why today we wanted to share with you our tips for hatching chicken eggs.  In hopes you'll have success as well.
tips for hatching chicken eggs

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    Every spring and sometimes fall, for the past 5 years, we have hatched more chicks for our own home and family.  These chicks provide our family with food, entertainment and more importantly a way to make an income.

    Plus, we pretty much just love having chickens on our homestead.  They have a relaxing quality to them.

    We personally have a lot of space and are able to keep both our hatched hens and our roosters.  We keep roosters so we can have fertilized eggs for selling and hatching.

    how to incubate eggs

    Anyone can hatch their own chicks with just the right amount of time and patience.

    We get a lot of questions about hatching chicken eggs.  We thought we'd answer some of these and give you some tips on hatching your own eggs successfully.

    10 tips for hatching chicken eggs with a higher success rate than your neighbor.

    How long does it take to incubate chicken eggs?

    Eggs in the incubator take 21 days to hatch.  Of course, the process is longer between setting up the incubator, adding the eggs and allowing the hatched chicks to dry off.

    How long can eggs sit before putting them in the incubator?

    Between 7-10 days.  The sooner you can get them into the incubator the better.

    However, try to start incubating all your eggs at the same time.  Otherwise they will be hatching over several days and that can get tricky and risky for the unhatched eggs.

    Can you hatch eggs without an incubator?

    You need to keep eggs between 99° -101°F.  If you don't have an incubator you can try a hot heat lamp in a humid room.  

    But if you don't have an incubator, your best bet is to have a broody chicken sit on the eggs.

    tips for hatching chicken eggs

    What happens if you don't turn the eggs in the incubator?

    Turning the eggs during incubation is what helps the embryo develop.  If the eggs aren't turned, they embryo can get stuck to the shell and die.

    Turning also always for fresh nutrients and oxygen to get to each egg.  Which the chick needs in order to develop into a nice strong chick.

    How many chicken eggs should I hatch?

    That question is entirely up to you.  I would encourage at least incubating 6 eggs at a time to ensure at least some success.  You can always sell or give away extra chicks that hatch.

    Also remember you may hatch all roosters and only one hen.  The more you hatch the better your odds.  (We've had this experience many times where we get 4 roosters and only 2 hens.)

    Check out our post on how many chickens should I get? to help you better decide what your family might need.

    Hatching your own chicks?  Grab our free Incubating and Chicken Hatching Guide

    How to Hatch Chicken Eggs Video

    Tips for Hatching Chicken Eggs

    Tip #1
    Allow shipped eggs to settle for 24 hours prior to placing in you incubator. Shipping is rough on eggs.

    Tip #2
    Setup your incubator at least 24 hours in advance of egg placement. This will allow time for you to monitor your incubator for correct temperature and humidity levels as well as general operation.

    We've used two different incubators: Nuture Right Incubator 360 and one similar to the HovaBator 2370.  They both work but we tended to have greater success with the Nurture Right 360.

    Tip #3
    If you do not have an automatic egg turner, ensure that you are flipping/ turning your eggs at least twice a day. It is recommended that you place an (X) on one side and an (O) on the other to keep track of the rotation.

    how to incubate chicken eggs

    Tip #4
    Optimal incubation temperatures for chicken eggs is 99.5 F or 37.5 C with a humidity of about 50% on days 1-18.

    Tip #5
    Candling eggs should be done on day 7, day 10, day 14 and finally on day 18.

    Tip #6
    After day 18 remove automatic egg turners and stop turning eggs. Increase humidity to 60-65%

    hatching chicken eggs

    Tip #7
    DO NOT open your incubator any more than absolutely necessary especially after day 18 as this causes unwanted temperature and humidity fluctuation that could kill developing embryos.

    Tip #8

    Leave newly hatched chicks in incubator for 24 hours to fully dry and to allow time for the other chicks to hatch.

    tips for hatching chicken eggs

    Tip #9
    As tempting as it is, DO NOT assist in the hatching of the chicks. It is normal for them to take up to a full 24 hours or more to hatch from the time they initially pip the shell.

    Tip #10
    Once you chicks have hatched and are ready to move, make sure they have a nice warming lamp and a comfy box of wood shaving to live in for the next few weeks.

    Tip #11
    Grab our free Incubating and Hatching Guide.  You'll get free printables to track your hatch.

    how long for chicken eggs to hatch in incubator

    I hope these tips for hatching chicken eggs helped you.  I am excited that you are venturing out into the world of chickens.

    We do get questions about purchasing our chicken eggs for hatching.  Make sure to check out our eBay store where we sell hatching eggs.

    Get our Free Chicken Breed Guide

    10 tips for hatching chicken eggs with a higher success rate than your neighbor.


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