This was our first time incubating and hatching our own baby chicks and to our surprise it worked! We incubated 6 eggs and got 2 chicks, which is normal, as they say to count on about a 30% hatch rate. It was a fun and relatively easy process. The kids and I enjoyed checking on the eggs and the temperature and adding water for humidity daily. Purchasing chicks is easy and you can get some breeds sexed which is nice, but by hatching our own I felt so much more connected to the little chicks than I expected. We also got lucky and the kids were able to watch the final step of hatching when the chicks emerged and they were in awe!
So if you want to be part of the process and see the egg from start to hatch I would highly recommend giving incubating your own eggs a try. Below is how we did it.
I ordered the Janoel12 and followed the easy set up instructions once I got it. I set it up for 6 eggs instead of 12 due to my chicken's egg size. I think with small eggs, like quail you could do 12, but with our chicken eggs, I wanted them to be able to turn and have room.
You can either have a rooster to fertilize your eggs or order fertilized eggs online and have them shipped (amazing, huh?). You can use store bought eggs but the chances of hatching go way down. We have a silkie rooster (Rico) so in the morning I gathered our hopefully fertilized eggs, I had the incubator ready at 38.2' C and the humidity between 55-75% and went to our nesting box and chose the freshest laid 6 eggs.
It takes 21 days for hatching to begin. Different kinds of poultry require different temperatures and time but for chickens you start out at 38.2' C and then on day 6 you lower the temperature to 38'C, then on day 14 change temp to 37.8' and then adjust to 37.2 on day 16 to hatching.
You do not to have to turn the eggs in this particular incubator, the air flow will turn them.
On day 18 change the incubator so that the eggs are all in the hatch tray, which gives them more room to hatch.
This specific incubator does not measure humidity, for the first 9 days I added about a 1/4 cup of water every other day, then a little less from day 10-16 and then added little bit more day 17-21. High humidity is is needed at the end for poultry to hatch.
On day 21 we saw a first crack in the egg! A couple hours later we saw the second crack. These two took about 8-10 hours from once we noticed the crack to full hatch. I did not assist the chick and from the research I did you shouldn't. Sometimes they poke through for air but are not ready to come out and are still in process of detaching from the egg yolk sack. We did have one poke through and was fully formed but did not make it, not sure why but I trust nature knows what she is doing and know that this can be part of the process.
Once the chick hatched we let it completely dry in the incubator and then moved it to a small clean area, with dry bedding and a heat lamp it could get under and move away from if it was too hot. They need 95'F for the first week. I also put out jar lids with water and chick crumble. Chicks do not need to eat or drink for 48 hours but good to have available for them, however be careful not to have their water in something they could accidentally climb in and drown. Our first chick began pecking and eating and drinking about 3 hours after it went into the new area.
After we knew the two were healthy and eating and drinking we resumed to our normal chick care. I am excited to continue to learn and to keep hatching our own chicks!
Have fun and let us know how it goes!