I had always wanted Silkies, so I ordered a dozen hatching eggs from Alabama Silkies. I had done my research on all the things I needed for hatching chicks. So, I purchased an incubator and got all of our supplies ready. It’s very important to get your incubator up and running before you place your eggs. This will ensure the proper temperature and humidity needed for the growth and hatching of your chicks. I ran our incubator for 24 hours to make sure the temperature and humidity were holding.
List of Supplies for Hatching Chickens
Quality Incubator: In my opinion, not all incubators are created equal! This isn’t an endorsement, but I know many people have had great luck with Brinsea incubators. This isn’t the incubator I used, and I had some very stressful moments with the humidity and egg roller. If your incubator has an egg tray, place the eggs in with the pointy side down. This will keep the air sac where it needs to be.
Water: Keeping the proper humidity in the incubator at all times is super important! The humidity levels can honestly keep the eggs from even hatching. This was the most stressful part of hatching chicks for me. I would watch that humidity reader constantly. In the first 18 days, the humidity should be right around 50%-55%. For the last 3 days, the humidity should be bumped up to 65%-70%.
Thermometer: Most incubators have a thermometer, however, I recommend getting a small kitchen thermometer as a backup to ensure the proper temperature. The temperature should be set to 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit and maintained.
Flashlight: Around days 7-10, you can “candle” your eggs. In the dark, you can carefully use a flashlight to shine through the egg to see if you can see blood vessels and the embryo. This is really fun! Sadly, if you don’t see anything like blood vessels or movement you will need to remove this egg from the incubator. Either nothing had started growing, or the chick died. Use this time to inspect your eggs as well. If an egg is cracked or leaking, it will need to be removed and disposed of as well. Make sure you’re washing your hands after handling the eggs.
Brooder: I think sometimes people underestimate the importance of a good brooder. While it doesn’t have to be fancy, a solid and safe brooder with the right temperature and lighting is really important! Read my simple guide on how to set up a brooder. I make sure I have the Baby Chick Care Kit ready to use as well. Strong Animals has made it so easy to ensure our baby chicks get everything their little systems need to grow strong and healthy!
How Long Does it Take for Chickens to Hatch
Chicks take approximately 21 days to hatch. The eggs need to be turned the first 18 days once a day and then left alone for the last 3 days. Turning the eggs during the first 18 days (3-5 times a day) will prevent the chick from sticking to the side of the shell. Most of the newer incubators have an egg turner that does this for you. Having an egg turner also helps eliminate the need to open the incubator, letting valuable heat and humidity out. If you have an egg turner, the only thing you have to monitor then is the temperature and humidity.
After the 18 days of turning are over, you stop the turning for the last 3 days and up the humidity to be between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Chicks will likely hatch on Day 21, however, they can go a couple more days. If your eggs haven’t started to hatch by Day 23, they likely won’t.
What is an Egg Pip
When the chicks start to hatch they will make a “pip” in the shell. Every chick is born with an “egg tooth” at the tip of their beak. This is to crack the shell for hatching. Creation is amazing, isn’t it!? This egg tooth will fall off in the first day or so.
When Chicks Hatch, Here’s What to Do
When your chick successfully hatches, it will come out wet. Keep the chick in the incubator until it’s fully dry. Yes, it will be somewhat loud and clumsy, but it’s best to keep them in there to start. The other reason for this is to keep the incubator in “lockdown” so the other chicks can keep the proper temp and humidity for hatching.
Once the chick is dry, go ahead and place them in the already prepared brooder. Chicks will eat the yolk sac before they hatch so they likely won’t eat much for the first day or two! That’s how chicks can be sent in the mail. They are good for up to 3 days without food or water. I usually give mine the first 24 hours out of the incubator before I introduce food and water. But, I won’t wait 3 days.
One of the wonderful things about ordering chicks from a hatchery is that they come sexed. When you hatch eggs, there’s obviously a chance you could get some roosters. I ended up with 4 roosters out of my dozen hatching eggs and rehomed a couple of them. You will need to know your city’s ordinances or guidelines on roosters.
Either way, it’s such a fun experience to hatch chicks! Get your kids involved. We had such a wonderful day meeting all of our new little flock members.
Until next time,
–The Wing Lady