Want to know how to hatch & raise your own chickens at home? We’ve got you covered.
Spring is right around the corner, and you know what that means. Baby chicks are about to hatch! In this article, we’re going to teach you all about hatching and raising your chickens at home. Aside from being lovely, yellow, and fluffy, baby chicks can become a family project that can show everyone in the house how much love and care is needed to help a living being thrive and grow.
Why You Should Hatch Your Own Chickens
Aside from being an extremely rewarding process, it’s also a very educational experience you can share with your kids. It will help inform them of how a delicate egg goes through an entire process, needing love and care constantly in order to become a baby chicken. Of course, you can always purchase day-old chickens from a hatchery, but we believe that the incubator process makes these chickens become truly yours.
Be mindful that if you’re planning on starting from scratch, you’re going to need to keep a rooster in your flock in order to get fertile eggs.
How To How To Hatch & Raise Chickens At Home
The first thing you will need is a batch of fertile eggs. You can allow up to a week to go between the time your hens lay the eggs before moving the eggs to the incubator. For the fertile egg selection, choose eggs that are clean, shaped evenly, and undamaged. Avoid washing the eggs before setting them in the incubator, as this will compromise the shell and make them more susceptible to absorbing bacteria.
The second thing you will need is, obviously, an incubator. Chicken eggs take around 21 days to hatch, and the incubation period is extremely important because the eggs need to be monitored constantly in order for them to hatch properly. Once your eggs are set in the incubator, you will need to turn them at least 3 times a day to keep the yolk centered and to avoid the chicks to stick to the shell membrane (which can cause malformations). During the last 3 days of incubation, you will go into lockdown. You will stop turning the eggs and increase the humidity to around 70%. You will not open the incubator unless necessary during this time.
During this lockdown period is when you can expect your chicks to start hatching! Be sure to constantly monitor your incubator because if the chicks are left inside the incubator too long after hatching they will die of either dehydration or picking.
What To Do After The Chicks Have Hatched
After hatching, you will need to move your baby chickens into a draft-free brooder set 2 inches above the floor with a red brooder lamp that remains on at all times in order to keep the temperature at 92°F (33°C). The red light is particularly important because it will keep your chickens from pecking one another to death.
You’re also going to need chick starter feed and clean water from the get-go. We’ve discussed all the differences between chicken feed in this article, but we’ll sum it up here. Starter chicken feed is a high-protein variety designed for baby chicks. It’s important to have the feed ready because as soon as your chicks hatch, they will be hungry for feed that is formulated to provide them with the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy. We highly recommend the Scratch and Peck Feeds® Naturally Free Organic Chick Starter Feed has been formulated to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to your hatchlings through a special blend of grains, organic flax meal, and wild-caught fish meal.
As for the water, you can place a shallow cup or even an automatic poultry drinker cup. But to avoid accidental drowning, we highly recommend putting in marbles or pebbles inside the cups. Your chicks will be able to drink water from the spaces between the pebbles without falling into the water.
When Can You Move Them To The Flock?
Once your chickens have grown feathers, you can reduce the temperature of the brooder by 5 degrees every week until they reach 6 weeks of age. This is when they’ve entered their “teenage” stage and are ready for grower feed, which contains a higher amount of protein to help with development.
After this, your chicks are ready to be introduced to the flock! Even though most flocks get along great with baby chicks, it’s best to be cautious and introduce them to the adult flock once your chicks are in the teenage stage and in the evening, when all the birds are resting. Also, ensure you have tons of space – remember that chickens are more likely to peck and fight if they feel too crowded. Even so, keep an eye on your flock for a few days to make sure the transition is going smoothly.
As you can see, hatching and raising your own chickens is a full-time job that requires tons of responsibility. That’s why we think it’s an amazing idea for a family project where your children can learn the value of caring for new lives and ensuring everything in the process goes smoothly. We guarantee that they (and you!) will be proud to see their little baby chicks roaming about in the pen after the incubation and caring period is over.
If you need any chicken accessories for your chicken backyard coop, be sure to check out our online store – we have everything you need! Happy hatching!