How to Hatch Chicken Eggs

Hatching chicken eggs is a common science experiment in classrooms or at home. Children can learn a lot about nature and the growth process by watching chicken eggs hatch. If you are interested in hatching chicken eggs, follow these steps.

Order fertilized eggs from a hatchery or from poultry farmers. The eggs should be medium sized and free from holes or cracks. If you are breeding chickens, the best way for the eggs to hatch is to allow the hens to sit on them. This is called setting.

Choose an incubator. A forced-air incubator is large, great for large numbers of eggs and has a fan. A still-air incubator is smaller, hatches a fewer number of eggs and does not have a fan. Most experts prefer a forced-air incubator. Speak to a veterinarian or a poultry farmer to find out which incubator is best to for your needs.

Test the incubator before putting eggs into it for about twenty-four hours to make sure the temperature and humidity stays consistent within the incubator. The incubator should be placed indoors and the room should have proper ventilation and the ability for moving air.

Place the fertile chicken eggs into an incubator. The temperature will naturally go down in the incubator for the first few hours. Do not adjust the temperature for the first 48 hours after setting the eggs. The incubation period is about 21 days.

Keep the temperature steady at about 100 degrees Fahrenheit in a forced-air incubator. In a still-air incubator, the temperature should be kept at about 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Set the humidity at 58 to 60% and then increase it to 65% when the eggs start hatching.

Turn the eggs about half a turn four to six times a day. However, do not turn the eggs within three days of hatching. Never set eggs with the small ends pointing upward. All the eggs should hatch within about twenty-four hours.

Do not help any of the chicks out of the shells once the eggs start hatching. Chicks need to work their own way out of the egg for proper maturity.

Clean the incubator after the eggs have hatched and before reusing the incubator.

Buy Fertile Chicken Eggs

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Tips For Raising Chickens

Now that you have successfully hatched your eggs, you have to start raising chickens. You probably started out on this journey because you wanted fresh eggs. If you do this right, you will get more eggs than you can handle. However, it does take a good bit of effort. There is more to raising chickens than just providing food and shelter.

The best advice for raising chickens can be divided into two parts that address care during two crucial periods of life for the chicks. The first 60 days represent much of the chickens’ youth. It is this time when they will do most of the development that will have an influence on their health and performance all through their lives. You must be very vigilant during this period. After the first 60 days, you can relax a little because their well-being is in less danger from day to day.

The First 60 Days – Supplies and Monitoring

- You will need a young chick brooder. This is a special transitional habitat for the chicks in between the time that they hatch and the time that they reach or near adulthood. It can be as simple, though, as a sturdy cardboard box. Line the floor of this brooder with pine shavings or a corn cob bedding. Do not use newspaper. Keep the temperature in this brooder between 90 and 100 degrees at first. Lower the temperature 5 degrees per week until it reaches room temperature.

- Feed the chicks with chick crumbles. You will also need a special chick waterer to keep them properly hydrated.

- Besides feeding them, you should also interact with the chicks and even play with them to get them accustomed to being around people. Create a small area in your yard where they can wander and explore. However, prepare the area so that they cannot get away and you can easily catch them when they need to get back in the brooder.

After 60 Days

- Now they should move from the brooder to an honest-to-goodness chicken coop. By this time they should have a full body of feathers and no longer require the carefully heated environment of the brooder. The size of the coop will depend on how many chickens that you have. Estimate about 2-3 square feet per bird inside and about twice that much per chicken in the run outside. You should not need to regulate the temperature unless it gets down to freezing in your area. Continue to cover the floor with pine shavings but be prepared for the work of cleaning up after the chickens to become much more arduous.

- You can feed the chickens pellets or layer feed. However, you can also throw in some treats occasionally, such as bread, veggies and even bugs.

It will not be as hard to care for the birds after this juncture. However, caring for their environment will become a task all its own. Your reward will be more eggs than you or your family can possibly eat.