Hatching your own chicks may be simple, but it isn't easy. There always seems to be eggs that don't get started, eggs that don't finish, and chicks that don't make it. However, if you can get the hang of it, it's a wonderful thing to do.
As promised, I've put together three tips for hatching and raising chicks for folks who've never done it before, or for those who might want a refresher.
Tip #1: Get a Good Incubator
We have an Incuview Incubator and we love it. Be sure to read the instructions on your incubator and get really familiar with it. The egg hatching process requires some precise temperatures and moisture settings, and the better you follow the instructions, the better your hatch rate will be.
Tip #2: Be Prepared
When you get close to hatch time, before you stop turning your eggs, be sure to gather the supplies you will need for your hatchlings. A heat source, a box or container of some sort that is big engough to hold your chicks, a feeder, feed, a water dispenser, bedding, etc. Whatever your favorite book about raising chicks says you need, get it together beforehand. This prevents running around trying to find a feed store that is open after 5 p.m. where you can get the necessary supplies!
If you don't happen to be prepared, here's one bit of knowledge that may help put your mind at ease. Chicks can live up to 3 days in the incubator. The yolk which was absorbed by the chick just before hatching will provide sustenance for up to 48 hours. There's really no need for a crazy run about.
Tip #3: Learn About Hatching
Whether you are hatching ducks, geese, chickens or some other form of poultry, learning about the process can really make the experience memorable. Here are some links you may want to visit if you want to learn more about hatching your own eggs:
http://www.backyardchickens.com (These guys have a really great learning center)
University Of Minnesota Extension Office (or your local universities extension office)
And here's a great article about incubating chicken eggs from GRIT http://www.grit.com/animals/incubating-chicken-eggs.aspx
Lindsay Hodge is our resident Writer here at Haven Homestead. She keeps this blog, a GRIT blog, and writes other fun things too.