Chicken eggs take a specific amount of time before they hatch into young chicks. Usually, 21 days will work for most fertilized eggs. However, some eggs hatch after or fail to hatch entirely for one reason or the other in some cases.
Under the optimal conditions, chicken eggs hatch beautifully without requiring any assistance. However, if you are trying to hatch the eggs on your own, it helps to familiarize yourself with the conditions that make excellent hatching environments. This may mean understanding how the egg formation works and the correct environment needed for proper hatching.
How are Eggs Formed
Usually, a healthy average egg lays an egg every 25 to 26 hours. The egg always forms when the ovum or yolk is released when the chicken ovulates. The yolk moves down to the oviduct, where it then forms the other parts of the egg, which is the egg white and shell.
It is at this stage that the egg gets fertilized when the hen meets a cock. Once the egg is ready, it is released when the hen lays it through its vagina. In case an egg develops any abnormalities, it will happen at this stage of formation.
Hatching Chicks Naturally
Like many other birds in the wild, chicken hatches their chicks by sitting on them. This process is known as brooding, where the chicken shows signs of wanting to care for her eggs until they hatch. When the chicken is sitting on its clutch of eggs, remember to feed and water it because it needs food to keep the eggs warm.
Place the food and water near the brooding house, and make sure that the area is free of predators. The chicken will sit on her eggs, making sure that they get the right temperature. Additionally, it will keep turning them to guarantee the chick’s viability and proper development.
If you want to keep your chicken laying eggs, you will have to coax it out of brood mode. Check out this guide we did on how to keep chicken laying eggs.
When to Incubate Your Eggs
If farmers do not want to have their chicken sitting on the eggs, they can consider incubating the eggs. This is an artificial process of ensuring the eggs are put under warm and moist conditions to hatch and develop properly. This is a process that mimics natural conditions. However, there is a need to ensure that you are following the right procedure for it to work.
First, you should only use eggs that have been laid within the past seven days. You must have confirmed that the eggs are fertilized before proceeding to set the right temperatures. These should be between 99 to 102 degrees. The same temperature levels vary depending on the incubator’s model. You should also regularly turn the eggs to minimize the chances of poor development of the chicks since some may get stuck to the shell.
Further reading: Why Does My Chicken Coop Smell So Bad?
You can monitor the incubation process through the candling process. This is where you lace the incubating egg over a shielded light and observe the egg’s content through the shell. You will be able to observe what is going on inside the egg partially.
A clear egg with just the yolk is an indication that there is no development taking place. A good indicator of a growing embryo is a darkening color and a development of veins in the egg as days go by (from day 4). Clear eggs prove that the embryo is dead.
Common Hatching Issues to Look For
Under perfect or optimal conditions, the eggs should hatch after 21 days. However, this will vary depending on the environment the chicken is in. It is possible for chicks kept in warm conditions to hatch earlier and those kept in cold conditions to go beyond the 21 days. However, when the eggs go past 23 days in an incubator, it is highly likely that they will not hatch. Several things can cause failure to hatch. This include:
Chicks are dying before they hatch
This happens when the egg is exposed to extreme temperatures, too hot or too cold before the chicks hatch. Remember that incubating chicks need an optimum temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius/99.5°F. Temperatures above this will increase the chances of deformity and crippling in your chicks. Anything above 40.5 °C/104.9°F leads to death.
No matter how long the chicken sits on unfertilized eggs or how perfect the incubator’s conditions are, an unfertilized egg can never hatch. It is always good to check if the egg is fertilized before incubating it. After all, it is impossible to guarantee 100% fertilization of all the eggs laid by the chicken.
Failing to turn the eggs as you should
This can cause the chicks to deform and even die before they fully develop. Such eggs will not hatch, no matter how long they are left.
Every farmer wants to have all their chicken eggs hatch into healthy chicks. Ensure to observe the tricks mentioned above to guarantee success. Well-formed chicks will develop into healthy chicken.