This is how long you incubate chicken eggs + what happens if you don’t

If you own pet chickens, then incubation is something you will have to practice from time to time. Once your chicken starts laying eggs, you will want to see some chicks hatch, right? It’s a joy to have the number of chickens in your backyard increase.

So, the question we need to ask is how long it takes to incubate chicken eggs. The answer to this question is a confident 21 days.

Incubating chicken eggs is fun, if you have never done it before. It’s a 21 days project that draws you closer to your pet chickens. It involves a lot of care and deliberate action. Like any other project, the success of the incubation period depends on various factors. Normally, the care you accord to your chicken and the equipment you use are highly significant for successful incubation.

Moreover, it’s important to note that you can only incubate fertilized chicken eggs. If you incubate unfertilized eggs, they will not hatch chicks. Thus, if you don’t have a rooster, you can order fertilized chicken eggs from poultry farmers who house roosters in their flock.


What Happens If Chicken Eggs Don’t Hatch In 21 Days?

The standard amount of time that it takes for chicken eggs to hatch is 21 days. However, it’s not unusual for them not to hatch within that time period. There are several factors that cause this scenario. The most common reason is if the eggs were not fertile. As mentioned above, chicken eggs must be fertilized for them to hatch. A viable way of checking whether the eggs you are incubating are fertile is through candling. Candling simply means shining a light through an egg to check whether it’s fertile or not. If you see a glowing reddish pink lighting inside the egg, this is an indication that it’s fertile. If you don’t see any of that it means that the chicken eggs are not fertile. The best time to do this exercise is 7-10 days after the incubation period begins.

Another reason why chicken eggs don’t hatch in 21 days is the dropping of temperatures in the incubator. According to an article by the Journal of BMC Veterinary Research in 2014, the recommended temperature level for a successful incubation period 37.5C. If the temperatures drop, the chicks are likely to hatch later than the normal time. So, it’s good to monitor all the necessary factors to ensure that chicken eggs hatch in 21 days.


Do Chicken Eggs All Hatch At The Same Time?

Normally, chicken eggs should hatch at the same time. However, there are several factors that can affect this. One of the factors that affect hatch times is fluctuations of the temperature in an incubator. If the temperature is not set at the required level, there is a likelihood that chicken eggs hatch at different times. Temperature plays a very important role for a successful incubation period. That’s why it’s vital to maintain temperatures at 37.5C. Another factor is the age of the eggs. A difference in the age of chicken eggs affects the hatching time. If there is a big difference in the age of the incubated chicken eggs, they will hatch at different times. Therefore, it’s prudent to consider the age of the chicken eggs you incubate for better results. Of great importance still is the health of the mother chicken. If the mother chicken is healthy, chicken eggs will hatch within the normal 21 days.


What Happens If A Chick Hatched Too Early?

If a chick hatches too early, it poses several challenges. It’s important for the normal incubation period to end for a chick to hatch. If a chick hatches too early, this means that there will be a problem with its development. One of the outcomes of such a scenario is that the chick might be weak or having a deformity. Usually, deformed and weak chicks might eventually die if proper care is not put in place. Furthermore, since a chick needs to fully develop inside the egg before it hatches, a too early hatch might be a concern. During this time, the chick is vulnerable to bacteria. Bacteria can affect the healthy development of the chick. In case you notice that a chick hatched too early, try adjusting the temperature of the incubator. Let the temperature be at a level that is comfortable for the chick. Make sure that the environment is warm enough for the chick. Moreover, handle the chick with care so that you don’t cause injuries to it. How well you take care of the chick will determine its overall health.


Manual vs Automatic Incubator

The question of whether you should use a manual or automatic incubator is a good one. If you choose to go for a manual incubator, the good thing is that it’s less expensive. However, you should take note that you will need much time and effort for the incubation process to succeed. With a manual incubator, you have to spend more time monitoring and evaluating the incubated eggs. You should be aware of everything that is going on inside the incubator. In other words, you should manually know the condition of the incubated chicken eggs during the 21 days. For example, you have to control the temperature of the incubator manually. Additionally, you will have to control the humidity of the incubator yourself. Again, the turning of the eggs has to be manual. This requires a lot of time and effort for a successful incubation process. If you are readily available during the incubation period, then it’s an option you can go for.

Alternatively, you can opt to go for the automatic incubator. Of course, this one is more expensive compared to the manual one. Though, despite it being expensive, it saves chicken pet owners a lot of time and effort. The automatic controls give the incubator capacity to manage the temperature and humidity effectively and with ease. In addition, such an incubator is able to turn eggs on its own. This makes it easier and convenient for you to monitor everything during the incubation period.

If you would like to start incubating chicken eggs, this information is highly valuable to you. Now that you know how much time it takes to incubate chicken eggs, you should prepare yourself for the important process. You should have all equipment ready as well as your commitment to see the incubation period through. Indeed, commitment is paramount for you to have positive outcomes. Constant monitoring of the incubated eggs goes a long way in hatching healthy eggs. Therefore, consider following this helpful information in your chicken eggs incubation project for quality results.

Reference: Noiva, R.M., Menezes, A.C., & Peleteiro, M.C. (2014). Influence of temperature and humidity manipulation on chicken embryonic development. BMC Veterinary Research, 10: 234.