Damson Cottage Garden

Hatching eggs

This time last year we really wanted a bantam Araucana hen to join our little flock. This is because Araucanas lay the most beautiful blue eggs. Unfortunately we couldn’t  find a breeder who had point of lay hens available, so (being impatient) we decided to hatch our own. We bought a mini incubator, a small brooder, an indoor rabbit cage, some chick crumbs and 6 fertile hatching eggs. Being complete novices at hatching eggs and rearing chicks we were really happy that 50% of our eggs hatched, especially as the eggs were posted to us. It was really fun and totally amazing that in just 21 days the fertile eggs transform into tiny, walking and chirping chicks.

Before you hatch eggs you need to decide what to do it you get cockerels (as, of course, statistically half the eggs will be male and enjoy crowing at the crack of dawn!). We were lucky, as we have a friend who didn’t mind taking any bantam Araucana cockerels we hatched for breeding purposes.

We put the incubator in the kitchen so we could keep an eye on the eggs.

Our Brinsea Incubator

The incubator has a pool inside which you must keep topped up with water to keep the atmosphere moist.

Gently clean your eggs. You can buy special solution designed for this, but as our eggs were clean looking we just used a damp clean cloth to wipe the eggs. Next we drew a circle on one side of the egg and a cross on the opposite side in pencil. We turned our eggs three times a day and the circles and crosses help make sure you do a complete turn. Turning the eggs stops the chick from sticking to the shell.

Mark one side with a cross and the other side with a circle

Hatching eggs

You can ‘candle’ your eggs to check whether a baby chick is developing. If you hold a bright torch up close to the egg you will see blood vessels after about 1 week of incubating. It’s so amazing when you first see  life beginning to develop.

At the end of the 18th day of incubation we placed the eggs on small cardboard cups (cut from the base of an egg box). This stops the eggs rolling around too much and damaging the chick.

For the last three days of incubation stop turning your eggs and don’t open the incubator (however sorely you are tempted!). It only takes about 30 minutes for the chicks to appear once you start to see movement. Its so strange to see an egg start to wobble and crack. Then a (rather ugly!) wet chick appears from the shell.

How to hatch chicken eggs

How to hatch chicken eggs

Newly hatched chick

You can leave the chicks in the incubator for 24 hours after hatching, then put them in their brooder. We had this mini brooder (a heat source for the chicks to huddle under) set up in an indoor rabbit cage.

Hatching eggs

The chicks were very easy to look after. We kept checking they had enough food and water. It’s best to put pebbles in the water as apparently chicks can drown easily even in shallow water.

Chicks

We could only tell what gender the chicks were when two of them started to crow at about 5 months old! Unfortunately we couldn’t keep the cockrels as they were too noisy for our little village so they went to my friend for breeding and we kept the female and called her Blue.

Blue, our bantam araucana

Blue makes beautiful blue eggs. She is very lively and is the boss in the chicken run!

Its so interesting and fun hatching eggs. I would definitely recommend it! Let me know about your chick adventures, Jane

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