I hatched our first chicks back in November of 2020 but I didn’t get around to posting about them until now.
For our first try, it was fairly successful although I would’ve been happier had a few more eggs hatched. We incubated 41 eggs and after candling them a few times we determined that all of them but maybe one contained a viable embryo. During incubation we only had about 4 of them stop developing and die for whatever reason. When it came time for hatching there were 35 eggs that could potentially hatch. Only 16 hatched successfully and there were about 3 that pipped but died before they could hatch out. All of the other chicks died before they hatched. This was pretty disappointing but I have heard from others that it is hard to get more than about 50% hatchability when using an incubator. Getting the humidity and ventilation just right during hatching can be quite tricky. It makes me wonder how my barn chickens have managed to get it right and hatch so many chicks up in the loft. Although when I find their old nests, they usually have several unhatched eggs too, so maybe that is just the way it goes.
Of the 16 eggs that hatched, 10 of them were roosters and only 6 hens. I really liked the look of some of the roosters so I kept a few to use as replacements for some of my old cranky roosters and I kept all of the hens. I didn’t choose a great time of year to hatch my first batch of chicks, November through May can be pretty chilly in Colorado. So, the chicks lived in a large box in my garage until they were able to go outside with the other chickens. It wasn’t the most ideal situation but it worked. I didn’t try to incubate any more eggs for the rest of the winter. Now that it’s spring and summer is around the corner I have loaded the incubator up again for another round of hatching, hopefully this one will be a little more successful.
All in all it was very fun and I highly recommend hatching chicks at home so you can see the whole process. I never get tired of watching chicks hatch, it is magical!