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The Chicks: Hatch Time

February 28, 2010

Incubation time for chicken eggs is 21 days, which meant that our chicks were due on Monday, Feb. 21, however they were late and our first one didn’t arrive until Tuesday morning and it was well ahead of the other eggs by about 12 hours.  Luckily we were able to catch the moment of hatch for the first one.

The chick pips almost completely around the circumference of the wider end or close to the center; but not narrow end

It finally got the shell cracked open enough to start making it out

It fully emerges from the shell

The next day we caught the tail end of a different chick hatching.

Hatching out is hard work and they are just exhausted when they make it out

They just flop down and rest for a while when they make it out

Like most babies of the animal world, chicks aren’t very cute when they first hatch. Their feathers are wet and plastered to their skinny bodies and they looks almost prehistoric. Very quickly they fluff up and look begin to look very cute.

Chirping chick

Day old chicks

Two and three day old chicks

The tan ones with dark brown markings are my favorites

The black chicks with yellow bellies are Australorps and I’m assuming that the tan ones with dark brown markings are Australorp/Easter Egger crosses.  Easter Eggers are sometimes incorrectly sold as Araucanas, but true Araucanas are rare.

The brooder we’ve set up is a heavy plastic stock tank with a heat lamp suspended over to keep the temperature warm, 95° for the first week and then decreasing by about five degrees each week.  It’s set up in our basement.

I started out with 36 eggs and during incubation we discarded four eggs due to lack of development.  20 eggs hatched, we lost four after they had hatched and we’ve still got two with foot problems which we will attempt to correct with orthopedic interventions.  So, as of today, we have 16 live chicks.  That is a 45% hatch and survival rate, which isn’t too bad for a home hatcher, but I’ve done better in the past so I was disappointed with that low percentage.  Commercial hatcheries seem to average about 80% and a detailed journal of home hatching chicks that was informative for me had a 20% success rate, so I’m in the middle.

I may attempt to hatch one more dozen in the near future from another friends and she has Silver Lace Wyandottes and Ameraucanas.  I am very lucky to have friends with roosters who are willing to sell/share fertilized eggs from non-production breeds of chickens.

So, that concludes the incubation and hatching phase of our chicken experience.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2010 5:56 pm

    This has just been so awesome to read about! Way cool :o)

    • February 28, 2010 6:18 pm

      I’m glad you’ve been enjoying it, Kelly. We are enjoying it too. The only bummer has the been the several chicks we’ve lost. They are still growing so fast, it’s amazing. I’ll keep doing updates!

  2. March 1, 2010 3:15 pm

    Awww!!! Look how cute they are! I just love chickens, they really are so much fun.

    • March 2, 2010 9:47 am

      Rebekah-They are very cute. I can’t wait til we start getting eggs from them at the end of summer!

  3. beingmaisie permalink
    March 2, 2010 2:56 am

    They are really good pictures of the hatching. I have 7 silkie eggs due to hatch on 4th March. It is a great buzz isnt it although i have had a very poor hatch rate in the past.
    I love the tan chicks with darker markings they are so unusual.

    I have added you to my blogroll

    best wishes

    • March 2, 2010 9:49 am

      Gill-It’s amazing to hatch chicks. I’m so glad the incubation period is so short, because it does take a lot of patience! Please update me and let me know how many of your eggs hatch!

  4. March 3, 2010 11:02 am

    Wow — chickens! What a wonderful learning experience!

  5. beingmaisie permalink
    March 4, 2010 12:09 am

    Hi have become a moderator on a brilliant chicken forum we’d love you to come and visit us.
    Full of friendly and helpful people who also love chooks

    sorry for the advert

    • March 6, 2010 10:46 am

      Gill-I’ll go take a look at it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

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