Hatching chickens yourself is actually much easier than many people think. Apart from saving yourself the expense of buying chickens, you get to witness first hand the wonder of eggs hatching into chicks and observe then develop into fully grown chickens. There are essentially two methods of hatching chickens.
The artificial method involves putting the eggs into an incubator. You need to ensure that your incubator is producing a steady temperature. You need to ensure some humidity within the incubator by putting a cup of water inside. The humidity needs to be increased for the last few days just prior to hatching. It is important to turn your eggs daily, at least three times per day (it should always be an odd number). You should make sure that you do not miss a day as this could lead to having deformed chicks. In order to keep track of turning your eggs, it is best to mark two sides; traditionally one side is marked is marked with an X and the other with an O. You can buy incubators that turn the eggs for you which can make it easier, although you still need to keep an eye on them to make sure that the eggs are being turned as they should be. Once the eggs hatch, you will initially need to keep the chicks under a heatlamp.
The other option is simply to put the eggs under a broody hen. In order to maximise the chances of success you should isolate your hen from the other chickens. I personally put my broody hens in a cat carrier with plenty of straw. You should lift off your hens twice a day to get some food and water, and to go to the toilet. Any eggs that become soiled will need to be disposed of. You won’t need to turn the eggs as the hen will do this for you.
Likewise, the hen will provide the appropriate amount of heat and humidity. Once the eggs hatch, the hen will keep the chicks warm and safe.
Hatching chickens yourself is a wondrous experience, particularly for children, and by following these steps you will increase you chance of success.
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