• juliananoorloos

Hatching Chickens

I will say this right away to clear things up…. I am by no means an expert in hatching chicken eggs! But if you are like me and just jump right into things without fully planning you might enjoy this blog post!



I was wishing a lot for summer weather with all the sun, flowers and animals and since waiting for summer is so slow its best to get to work right away! I couldn’t very well start planting or building fences with frozen ground, couldn’t can anything that hasn’t grown yet, couldn’t go to the beach when there’s still ice chunks floating. So! In a split moment decision after finding a dozen surprise rainbow chicken eggs on kijiji that is what I decided to do!




It was a mad dash to the local farm store to get an incubator the night before I was to pickup my chicken eggs. I had no idea how a fertilized egg could be moved. I thought they had to stay cold! So on my hour long drive I brought a tea towel to wrap my chicken eggs in and made sure when I was bringing them home to not turn the heat on in the car on for fear of overheating my fertilized chicken eggs! Remember - its basically -20 degrees outside!





When we arrived home I started to read my incubator manual. It was a little overwhelming and in my excitement I skipped a few steps. Now I realize they were very important steps! I put the incubator in a safe corner (somewhat away from my 10 month old baby) turned it on, set the temperature settings and filled it with water. It was hard to wait! So after only 20 hours I loaded the eggs into the incubator. It was a nightmare. The temperature kept going up and down and with it the humidity did too! For the first couple days I also believed that the humidity needed to be at 60-80% but I was wrong!!




It went like this for 7 days until we could finally candle our eggs. We waited till it was nighttime for a dark room and began. So much excitement as that first egg got placed over our makeshift flashlight candler. And nothing. Not nothing inside or at least we weren’t sure because we couldn’t see anything inside! Our flashlight wasn’t strong enough to see into our blue, green and brown eggs! So we had to find another one. With this new one we could just manage to see into the eggs. To our dismay NONE of the eggs took. All 12 were discarded.


I was a little heartbroken for a couple days before I contacted the same person where we got our first eggs and this time got THREE dozen more eggs (thankfully for a little bit of a discount!) This was it. I can do it! I now had a little bit more time and experience under my belt to help make this time a success!


Transporting Fertilized Eggs:

  1. Store eggs with the pointed end downwards (so that the air cell remains in the right position)

  2. Keep eggs dry, and store between 5-10 degrees celsius

  3. Best chances are to get the egg in the incubator within a week of it being laid.

There! Successfully brought my new 36 eggs home safely. Now to get them into the incubator.

Incubator Setup:

  1. Setup in an area that has a stable temperature and is not draughty.

  2. Allow incubator 24-48 hours to settle before placing eggs in.

  3. Settings: Temperature - 99.5 degrees for entire incubation time. Humidity - 45-50% for first 18 days and then 65-70% for last three days.

I know you are excited but WAIT! Your chick eggs will be okay. Let the incubator set to its proper temperature. It takes time and you will feel so much more confident knowing you had it set up properly! We did not set up our incubator in the same spot - we moved it into our bedroom where it was much less draughty! Now to get the eggs in.

Incubation:

  1. Maintain stable temperature and humidity environment.

  2. Wash hands prior to handling eggs.

  3. Mark one side with an X and one side with an O for turning eggs.

  4. When adding water, make sure water is warm.

During the incubation time it is very important to maintain a stable humidity and temperature environment for the chicken eggs. It is also important to be very cautious about exposing the eggs to any bacteria! Bacteria contamination is an easy culprit for killing viable eggs.

Now! We have reached day 7! Time to tell how my 36 eggs are doing!


Candling:

  1. Candle eggs on day 7 at the earliest

  2. Make sure you have a strong enough light in order to see into eggs.

  3. Wash your hands!

We ended up having 30 eggs continue on. We had 4 that never took and 2 died of bacterial contamination. So we waited and checked again on day 14. The reason we checked again was because we had a couple that we weren’t sure about so we put them back in. The reason it is important to check is because of the risk of a non-viable egg exploding in the incubator and causing contamination for all the other eggs. When we checked again we removed 4 so we were left with 26 eggs ready to go into lockdown!





Day 18 Lockdown:

  1. Raise humidity to 65-70%

  2. Do NOT turn eggs.

  3. Do NOT open the incubator.

  4. Watch them hatch!

  5. Remove chicks after 24-48 hours

Ours hatched from day 20-21. We were surprised at how quickly they came! We saw the first egg pip and before we knew it they were all showing signs of hatching! After they pip (poke a hole in the outer shell) it can take a while before they are out. They are just busy resting, soaking up the yokes nutrients and working on getting out from the inside. It is all very exciting to watch so get that video camera ready!


When a chick has hatched it will chirp and knock over the other eggs and that is okay! It is just encouraging the other chicks to come out! Do NOT open the incubator to take the chicks out. They need time to dry off and if another egg has pipped and you open the incubator it will disrupt that eggs hatching process. The drop in humidity from opening the incubator creates a vacuum in the egg and makes it impossible for the chick to get out!


However, you do need to take the chick out after 24-48 hours. If other eggs haven’t hatched at 48 hours it is better to take out the chick that is alive than try to wait for an egg you don’t know will hatch. We had to remove some of our chicks while we still had 3 unhatched eggs. Turned out those three eggs never hatched! But, I am so excited to have successfully hatched 22 eggs! It was such a fun project for myself and the kids! Can’t wait to do it again next year!



But, the learning doesn’t stop there! Now I have 30 chicks (I got 8 day old chicks to add to my 22) in the brooder! If you’d be interested in hearing more about me raising baby chicks let me know!

Thanks for reading and wish you all the best as you hatch your own chicken eggs!

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