Yahoo! It’s officially spring time. Okay, that’s not true. And as a matter of fact it’s not even close to spring time, it’s only January and 26° outside. But nonetheless, I’m ready for spring and what is more spring like than baby chicks?!!
Hatching baby chicks is one of my all-time favorite homesteading tasks. Not only is the scientific process of hatching chicks incredible, but it’s downright amazing! This is where my true nerdy, science loving, farm girl totally comes into play but I’ll try to spare you and hold back as much as I can here.
Welcome class to Incubating Chicken Eggs 101
It takes 21 days from start to finish to make a baby chick (Give or take a day or two or). So my 17 eggs that I put in the incubator today at noon should hatch in simply 21 days; that is, if I don’t screw up, which I have and I still do.
My incubator of choice?… Is a Brinsea Octagon 20 with a humidity pump. I love my incubator! It took me several years to actually convince myself that I needed to spend the money on a digital incubator, (about $500) However, now that I have upgraded from a LG table top incubator, (don’t get me wrong, I love my LG. And I have had 100% hatch rates many a times in my LG, and thyre only about $50) it makes hatching so much easier and I don’t find myself babysitting the incubator all day long. This means I’ve got more time to complete my daily tasks and take care of my family. With the additional perk of an increased hatching rate. Typically with unshipped eggs you’ll get a fairly good hatching rate, roughly 75%-100%, saying that there are no hiccups in the incubating process i.e. power outage, temperature spike and/or humidity spike.
I like to hatch out chicks during winter/spring when I am not canning and it is not hot outside for several reasons 1.) The added heat and humidity in the house from canning will increase your incubator heat and humidity, that would be bad. 2.) If you hatch in January/February you should have fresh eggs by June..). I have more time to snuggle their fuzzy butts when there’s snow on the ground and I’m not in the garden all day! 4.) It makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something despite the snow and cold weather.
This is my gazillionth (that’s a word right?) time hatching chickens and I still worry about every single tiny detail. This time a few of my eggs are from brand-new laying pullets. Typically I don’t like to incubate pullet eggs, but rather wait till they have been laying for several months before incubating their eggs. However my chickens have decided to all lay in the same nest box (which is very common) and I don’t know whose egg is whose. So they’re all going into the incubator. The eggs going in are from Buckeye and Delaware hens, over it a Buckeye Roo. I love my buckeyes and I have fantastic bloodlines, so I’m excited to breed them into each other.
The last couple days I’ve been gathering and saving eggs and writing the date on them. I store them in the cold garage, around 50° and tilt them 90 degrees every 12 hours. Today before I put them in the incubator I weighed each egg and wrote the weight on egg just under the date using a pencil. The incubator was warmed up, with the temperature (99.6) and humidity levels stabilized. In seven days I’ll take the eggs out and candle them (shining a flashlight through the egg to see if there is life) and weigh them again. The egg should typically lose around 13-16 percentage of their weight during the incubation process, I’ll adjust the humidity level accordingly based on the percentage of weight lost. (see, nerd!)