For complete instructions, see How to Hatch Chicken Eggs in an Incubator. You may also be interested in reading How to Care for Day Old Chicks.
Getting ready to hatch baby poultry? Read this list first for the best results!
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15 Helpful Tips for Hatching Eggs Successfully
- Hatch eggs soon after they’re laid (within 1 week is best)
- Dirty eggs may hatch but unwashed eggs free of manure are best
- Don’t save eggs that are abnormally small or large, have cracks, chips or thin shells
- Store eggs at a 45 degree angle, with small end down & turn eggs 3 times a day
- Keep eggs at 60-70 F until ready to incubate (Don’t refrigerate)
- Turn incubator on ahead of time and make sure temp is stable *
- Mark eggs with an x on one side and an o on the other to keep track of turning
- Allow eggs to warm to room temp before placing in warm incubator
- Fill humidity trays with warm water and don’t allow them to dry out
- Don’t get eggs wet when filling humidity trays
- Turn eggs at least 3 times a day
- Always turn eggs an odd number of times each day
- Stop turning eggs 3 days before hatch date
- Fill all humidity trays and place paper towels under eggs 3 days before hatch date
- Don’t take chicks out as they hatch, remove them when all chicks have hatched
* Keep temps in your incubator and house stable during hatch. This might seem like a given, but it can be a difficult goal to achieve. If you aren’t able to keep the temps close to 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit, consider an incubator with an automatic thermostat.
- Although some sources advise that you can keep eggs for 2 weeks before hatching, you will have the best hatch rate when incubating eggs that are under 1 week. The longer they are stored, the less likely they are to hatch.
- I’ve had some success hatching eggs that were dirty, got cold, or had somewhat thin shells. However, it is best to choose clean eggs in perfect condition. Cracked and dirty eggs are more likely to grow bacteria than clean eggs with hard shells in good shape.
- Double yolked eggs may produce twins, but they aren’t as likely to survive the hatch. Unusually small eggs may not have enough nutrients for the growing embryo, if one forms at all.
- Turning eggs during storage and hatching prevents the yolk and chick from sticking to one side of the shell. Eggs that aren’t turned often enough are more likely to produce chicks with weak or deformed legs.
- If you have an incubator with an automatic thermostat and heater you’ll have better luck with keeping a stable temperature for the duration of the hatch. See my post DIY Incubator Upgrade with the Incukit Mini to read about my incubator conversion project.
- If the temps aren’t stable enough, the chicks may hatch a day early or late, or not at all.
- The ideal temperature for hatching is 99.5 F, but one degree higher or lower is ok for short periods.
- The humidity needs to remain high during the final days of the hatch. If you open the incubator too often, the chicks will have a hard time breaking through the dry shell.
- Three days before hatch, fill the humidity trays one last time. Add a wet sponge if the humidity isn’t high enough. Put paper towels under the eggs to make cleanup after the hatch easier. Take turner out if you are using one, or stop turning the eggs so chicks can get into position for hatching.
- Resist the urge to take each chick out as it hatches. Wait until all of the chicks that show signs of piping through the shell are hatched, then remove them. The hatch could take a couple of days to complete, so be patient. Chicks that are in the process of piping through the shell may not be able to finish if the air dries out or they are chilled from the incubator being opened.