Hatching chicks is fun and a great way to start or grow your flock. Although it seems scary once you know what to do you soon feel eggcited about hatching chicks. But what on earth do you need?
- Incubator (we will be talking about the brinsea mini Eco and brinsea mini advance)
- Brooder lamp (brinsea Eco glow 20)
- Brooder box or simply a cage
- If you choose a candeling torch(you get to see the embryo develop which is eggstra fun!)
- Chick crumbs
- And last but most importantly fertile hatching eggs
How to start
Pick an incubator I recommend brinsea. A more expensive brand but better than most imported cheap incubators. For small flocks a mini Eco or mini advance both similar but the Eco is manual you turn the eggs your self and has a factory fitted temperature capable to hatch most species the Eco can hold 10 chicken eggs but I recommend 7 to 8 at the most, where as the advance can be adjusted easily by buttons on top of the incubator, has a egg tray wich holds 7 chicken eggs this is used for automatically turning the eggs to what degree and at what times. The advance is more expensive compared to the Eco but is less time consuming to the Eco.
Secondly you need hatching eggs these can be purchased by a breeder a online poultry farm or on eBay, if you all ready have a flock of hens with a rooster you can hatch your own eggs if you would like. Just make sure you rooster does the rooster dance, also fertility can be effected if there’s to many hens to a rooster. One rooster can serve 10 hens 5 hens could mean he won’t leave them alone causing in the hens to loose feathers and even cause Injuries but too many hens and the eggs can be in fertile. If you ordered eggs and they’ve arrived or travels in the post its best to leave them point down for 24 hours out on any bubble wrap, tissue or a polystyrene box so they can breathe.
Preparing your incubator (brinsea mini Eco)
First plug the lead into the hole at the back of the lid of the incubator And plug the other end into the plug socket put the base of the incubator on a solid table out of the sun then fill the one of the sides of the humidity pot up to the divider with water. Leave the incubator for a couple of ours to settle befor opening it or putting eggs in.
Now for the fun part
After a couple of ours of the incubator being on check the red light on top of the brinsea Eco. If it’s flashing it’s the right temperature but check the built in thermometer to see it should be around 37.5 for hens eggs if the light isn’t flashing leave it checking it every now and again also check the temperature. Get your eggs and using a pencil draw a X and on the other side draw a O this comes in handy when turning the eggs. If the incubators stable the water is filled up to the right amount then place your eggs in pointy end facing into the water pot and X facing directly up. For the first day leave the eggs be and then on the morning of the second day you start turning! You should turn the eggs three times a day, morning,lunch and afternoon but we turn morning at 8 afternoon at 4 and everning at 8. So start on the second day turn from the X to the O then the next time you turn turn from the O to the X and finally turn from the X to the O do this every day filing up one of the sides of the water pot up when it needs to be. If you choose to you can use a bright torch or candeling torch to candle the eggs to see how the egg is developing but I would not throw out undeveloped eggs as you never know especially dark nearly opaque brown eggs.
When you stop turning the eggs is on day 18 wich means the evening of day 18 you will turn the eggs the last time fill up the water pot on both sides and place the chick guard pot lid onto the pot to prevent chicks drowning. And that’s it wait not opening the lid until day 21 when most chicks have hatched. Once most chicks have hatched open the incubator making sure others aren’t hatching as the membrane will deflate suffocating the chick. Your chicks after fluffing up and all hatched are ready to move into the brooder where they will stay for the next 4 to 6 weeks with the heat lamp set up, when placing the chicks in the brooder dip the beaks in a shallow dish of water so they know where the water in then place them carefully under the heat lamp they then will warm up and begin to search for something to eat so then place a dish on chick crumbs they will soon learn to scratch and eat.
Don’t forget to join us in 2-4 weeks when we will be talking about looking after the young chicks whilst in the brooder also check out the new blog post on how to Set up a brooder.
To see more photos of the new little chick visit our face book page theurbanhens