Hatching your own chicks in an electric incubator is an economical way to add chickens to your farm. The incubation time for chickens is 21 days, give or take a day. Hatching your own chicks is simple. Chicken eggs just need a few basics to develop and hatch. They need a steady temperature of 37.5 degrees C, moisture and someone to turn the eggs.
Plug in your electric incubator and set the thermostat to 37.5 degrees C 48 hours before you begin incubation. At the same time, place the automatic egg turner inside the incubator and plug it in. This will give the temperature inside the incubator time to stabilise. Place the thermometer on top of the egg turner.
Watch the thermometer closely and adjust the thermostat as needed to maintain 37.5 degrees C.
Load the eggs into the egg turner. It is important to place the small end of the egg down. The air bubble is in the large end of the egg. The chick's head needs to be near the large end and the air bubble during hatching. If the small end is facing up, this will cause the chick to grow upside down and the chick might drown during hatching.
Fill the centre water trough in the bottom of the incubator. Leave the outer troughs dry for the first 14 days. Keep the centre trough full throughout the incubation time. Refill as needed.
Place the thermometer on top of the eggs so you can see it from the window or by tilting the lid. Monitor the temperature two times a day.
On day 18, remove the lid from the incubator and take the automatic egg turner out. Place the eggs directly on the wire mesh of the incubator. Put the thermometer back on top of the eggs. Fill both the centre and outer troughs with water. Replace the lid. Do not disturb or turn the eggs for the remainder of the incubation period.
Prepare your brooder box. A cardboard box works well. Fill it with newspaper or sawdust. Hang a heat lamp over the brooder. The temperature of the brooder needs to be 35 degrees C. Have the brooder box ready with fresh water and feed when your chicks hatch.
The chicks will begin to peep at 21 days. Do not attempt to help the chicks out of the eggs. The hatching process can take up to 24 hours. During this time, the yoke is pulled up into the chick's body. If you help them out of their shell early, the yoke can bust and the chick will bleed to death.
Let the chicks dry in the incubator. When they are dry, remove them and place them in a brooder with a heat lamp. The yoke sustains the chicks for the first three days. Encourage the chicks to eat by pecking at the food with your finger.
If you do not have an automatic egg turner just set the eggs on the wire mesh. Turn the eggs a half turn three times a day by hand. Stop turning the eggs on day 18.
Avoid opening the lid as much as possible. If your incubator has a viewing window, be sure to place the thermometer where it is visible through the window.