Chicken eggs require 21 days of incubation to hatch. The eggs are hatched under a broody hen or in an incubator. The development of the chick embryo is observed by the process of candling, holding the egg in front of a bright light. There are a number of ways to help a chicken's eggs hatch.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Fertile chicken eggs
- Incubator or broody hen
- Egg candler
Purchase or obtain fertile chicken eggs. To produce a fertile egg, a hen mates with a rooster at least a day before the egg is laid. Select normal size and shape clean eggs. Don't wash the eggs. Remove dirty spots by buffing with fine-grain sandpaper.
Store the eggs for no more than 10 days before placing in an incubator or under a broody hen. Keep the eggs at 10 to 15.6 degrees Celsius with a humidity of about 75 per cent.
Turn on the incubator 24 hours before adding the eggs. Adjust the temperature according to the incubator instructions. The recommended temperature in many incubators is 37.8 degrees Celsius. Set the incubator in an area that maintains a constant temperature. Avoid placing the incubator in a sunny window.
Place a pan of water in the incubator, following the incubator instructions, to maintain 50 to 55 per cent humidity. Increase the humidity to 65 per cent during the last three days of incubation.
Mark an "x" or the date on each egg with a pencil. Place the eggs in the incubator with the "x" or date facing upward. Turn the eggs 180 degrees, three times a day. Don't turn the eggs the last three days of incubation.
Place the eggs under a broody hen, a hen that wants to sit on eggs. Make a ground-level nest for the hen in a quiet area. Provide feed and water at all times. A broody hen is able to sit on 9 to 12 eggs.
Candle the eggs to observe development. Place an egg candler in a dark room and hold the egg in front of the light. Candling can determine if the chick embryo is developing normally.
Don't assist the chicks in the hatching process. It may take several hours for the chicks to break from the eggs. Cracking the eggshell or removing the shell manually may harm the chicks. Allow the newly hatched chicks to dry and fluff in the incubator before moving to a brooder.
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- University of Minnesota; Hatching and Brooding Small Numbers of Chicks; Melvin L. Hamre; 2011
- Kansas State University; Incubating Chicken Eggs; Albert W. Adams, et al.; February 1979
- Tips for Incubating and Raising Chicks with a Mother Hen; John R. Henderson; May 2011
- Texas A & M University; Incubating and Hatching Eggs; A. Lee Cartwright
- University of Maine; Hatching Your Own Chicks; Robert O. Hawes, et al.; 2009