Hatch Eggs at Home With Success

You want to hatch your own eggs? Tired of buying hatchlings year after year? Learn how to have a happy home egg hatching experience with minimal mistakes. This is a guide how to hatch eggs at home, so that you can have a Happy Home Hatch Day!

Equipment to Hatch Eggs at Home

First thing you need to do after you have decided to hatch your eggs at home is buy all your equipment. There are many different options and places to buy what you needs. We purchased all of our incubating equipment from the Incubator Warehouse and have been very happy with the results.

Hatch Eggs at Home Equipment

Equipment:

  • Incubator
    The incubator is where everything where the hatching will be taking place. Before you buy your incubator, you should figure out if you are going to use a still air or forced air model.
    • Still air incubator – A still air incubator is just that, there is no fan inside the incubator to circulate the air. The warm air will stay in place above the eggs where your heater is connected.
    • Forced air incubator – Forced air is when you have a fan running inside the incubator that circulates the air within the incubator. We have used both still and forced air models before, but we have had the best success with the Hova-Bator 2370, which is a forced air model.
  • Thermometer
    Even if your incubator comes with its own thermometer, you should always have another to cross check the temperature.
  • Hydrometer
    Hatching eggs with an incubator requires controlled humidity, having a hygrometer is very important. The humidity levels in the incubator can determine whether you have happy hatch day or not.

Optional Equipment:

  • Egg Turner
    When eggs are being hatched the mother would usually turn them naturally, but in an incubator, you have 2 options. You can turn them by hand or buy a mechanism called an egg turner. You place the eggs in the place holders and tuners them on cue, so you do not have to.
    • Note: When buying your egg turner make sure you choose an option that will fit all the eggs you plan on hatching.
  • Humidikit – This is a tiny humidifier with a tube that goes into the incubator with an external hydrometer inside controlling the humidifier. We found ours at Incubator Warehouse.

Setting Up Your Equipment

  1. Finding a Surface for your incubator
    Your incubator needs to be put on a level surface, where it will not be bumped or jumbled around. Our house is chaos on a good day with dogs and kids running around, so we had to find a far corner of the dining room away from everyday foot traffic.
  2. Set-Up Your Egg Turner
    If you have decided to purchase an egg turner now is the time, make sure it is setup correctly and that turns like it should.
  3. Check Temperature and Humidity
    The temperature and humidity are what will make or break your successful hatch day.
    • Note: We have owned multiple types of incubators and the thermometers attached never seem to be right. So that is where the extra comes in. You will want to place your extra thermometer and hydrometer in your incubator where it will be visible with the lid shut.

After you have determined that your new incubator and its parts are correctly working it is time to decide what to hatch first!

Hatch Eggs at Home Chart

Creating Your Egg Hatching Plan

Since our tragic first losses, we now always create a hatching plan before we start any incubation process. A hatching plan helps keep information organized and is also a way to keep track of the progress throughout the hatch.

A Good Hatching Plan Should Include:

  • How many eggs you are setting for incubation
  • The egg number or letter placed on each egg. (I like to have a chart with a notes area)
  • The day the eggs were set in the incubator.
  • If you are manually turning eggs, there should be a time sheet to record each time the eggs  were turned.
  • Notes for each egg as the incubation progresses. Like what eggs appear to be viable and which have been removed.
  • Lockdown day date with temperature and humidity change.
  • The expected hatch day date

Having a hatch plan will not guarantee a 100 percent happy hatch rate, but it will help keep everyone involved on the same page. The hatch plan is in place so that everything is organized and runs smoothly through the duration of the hatch.

Hatching Eggs at Home

Steps for Hatching Eggs at Home

  1. Setting up the tested incubator
    • Your Incubator and equipment should have been tested before your chosen hatch day. If your incubator is not set up, now is the time put everything back into place.
  2. Turn on the incubator to get it up to the correct temperature for the species you are hatching.
  3. Fill the water troughs or if you purchased a humidikit hook everything up.
    • Now you will wait till your thermometer and hydrometer read the correct temperature and humidity.
  4. Label your eggs a-z or with numbers before you place them in the incubator or the turner if you bought one.
  5. If using a turner, you will place the eggs large side down with the smaller end pointing up.
    • Unless you are hatching goose eggs, in my experience laying goose eggs horizontal gives the best hatch day results.

Your first day of egg incubation has been completed, you should have a fully functional incubator with your choice of eggs happily heating for activation. Now you will wait until they have been incubating for 8 days to take them out for your first hatch eggs at home candling experience.

Home Hatching Candling

Candling

On day 8 your eggs should be showing easy to see signs of growth within the shell. The way that you can check is by buying a flashlight type product called a Candler or what we did was grab a small high-powered flashlight that we had on hand to shine the eggs.

To Candle an egg, you will need to go into a dark room and hold the flashlight to the larger end of the egg. When the light shines through you will be able to see veins and a small solid dot at the center if the egg is viable.  

Larger solid colored chicken, duck or goose eggs are easy to see when candled, small, speckled quail eggs can almost be impossible to see.

When we hatched our first batch of quail eggs, I tried candling the little speckled eggs with no luck so we had to just wait and see which eggs cracked.

Bad Eggs

With larger eggs that you can see the insides clearly, you should be able to tell if there are any bad or infertile eggs in the bunch early on.  Later during the incubation process you will remove eggs that have stopped progressing for one reason or another.

Lock Down

Lock down day is 3 Days before your planned hatch day. During lock down you will stop turning your eggs, lower your temperature and raise the humidity. The temperature and humidity will vary depending on what species you are trying to hatch.  Lock Down is exactly has it sounds this is the last time you will open your incubator until your babies are hatched.

LOCK DOWN = NO OPENING THE INCUBATOR

Hatch Day

Hatch day is when you should start seeing some activity. There are 3 stages to that make up the hatching process. There is the internal pip, the external pip and something called zipping.

Hatch eggs at home Happy hatch day

Egg Hatching

  • Internal Pip
    The internal pip is when the chick the chick breaks though the air sac at the large end of the egg. There will be no way for you to tell on the outside that this has happened unless you break lock down and candle the egg. If you were to look at an internal pipped egg you would see the beak poking into the air sac.
  • External Pip
    This stage is when the baby breaks through the membrane and pokes a small beak sized hole through the exterior of the egg. You might see a small amount of shell that falls away or a small beak sticking out. Once the baby has pipped externally it may stop moving for a long period of time Don’t Worry and Don’t Open the Incubator.
  • Zipping
    When the baby starts the zipping process there might be a lot of movement and noise coming from the egg. This is the stage when the baby moves around the top of the egg breaking the shell to create a loose cap for them to push out of the egg.

Hatching is very tiring for a new baby and can take hours if not days for the process to be completed. The entire thing is very nerve racking, and it can be hard to watch when you aren’t sure what is going on.  You have provided all the necessary equipment and given your babies the best possible chance at a successful hatch. Be patient and allow them to do the rest of the work. Do not open the incubator, this will help avoid problems caused by a sudden change in humidity.

Be Patient and Give Them Time!

Once your babies start to hatch, leave them in the incubator until they are fuzzy and dry. If you have multiple eggs that have pipped leave your hatchlings in the incubator, they will be ok for at least 24 hours. The time your hatchling is left in the incubator can depend on the species you are hatching.

Eggs

In order to hatch eggs at home you need eggs to hatch! There are two ways you can get eggs for hatching, collecting from your own established flock or buy hatching eggs from somewhere else.

Collecting Hatching Eggs

There are a few things to look for when collecting eggs from your own flock.

  • Size – Try for average sized eggs
  • Condition – do not keep dirty or abnormal eggs
  • Age – collect fresh eggs daily and store for up to 7 days. When we are collecting eggs for a hatch I like to start collecting at the beginning of the week before a planned set date.

Buying Hatching Eggs

Hatching eggs can be bought a few different ways, they can be ordered online and shipped, they can be bought from local farmers, you may even find them on craigslist. Finding hatching eggs isn’t that difficult but you should do your homework before buying from just anyone.

What to look for when buying hatching eggs:

  • The seller should be able to give you a collection date.
  • Your eggs should be clean, free of debris.
  • Look for positive reviews from others if purchasing online

Hatching Egg Storage

Eggs that you plan to incubate should be kept below room temperature for up to 7 days. After the 7 days is up the membrane is said to start breaking down. If you are collecting your own eggs you will know for sure when your time will be up. If buying eggs, the date they were collected is important for this reason.  

Shipping Hatching Eggs

If you have bought your eggs from a hatchery or some other online resource your eggs will most likely need to ship to your local post office. When eggs are shipped through the mail, the hatch rate is usually predicted to be 50% at best. Expect that your eggs will be jumbled and jostled around on their way to you.

Things to Remember

Hatching eggs at home can be very nerve racking for beginners, I know it was for me. You wait patiently for your hatch day, the excitement and anticipation can sometimes lead to mistakes if you are not careful.

  1. Hatch Days usually start the full 24 hours after the last day. An example would be, if you are hatching chickens, the hatch day would start the full 21 days.
  2. Hatching eggs takes time and energy for babies, it could take hours or days for them to fully hatch out on their own. Be patient!
  3. Do not open the incubator! After the incubator has been placed into lock down, do not open it or check the eggs unless there has been no new development 4 days after your scheduled hatch date.

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

As a beginner hatch eggs at home, you should go into this knowing that you should never expect a 100 % hatch rate. Some eggs may never begin to develop, others will quite halfway through for some unknown reason, we have even had some not make it through the final hatch.

The babies that we had not make it through the final hatch were odd, unfortunate scenarios. One gosling that made it all the way to hatch day piped through the side and missed the air sack. This caused a substantial bleed that it could not survive.

Another was a quail chick that could not seem to turn itself around to complete the zipping process. I did help complete the zip (shell only) and it did make it out of the egg but did not survive through the night.

Hatch eggs at home help

To Help or Not to Help

Helping eggs hatch is a controversial subject with many that home hatch their eggs. Some believe that is ok to help if the eggs that don’t seem to be hatching quite right. Others think that if the baby isn’t strong enough to hatch out, it wouldn’t be strong enough to live outside the egg.

If you have had a chick that has pipped or zipped that hasn’t done much for a few days, you may need to decide if you are someone that want s to help or let nature take its course. If you would like to try and help this Help Hatching Article from Morning Chores will give you good advice as to what you should do.

Personally, I think that if you have done everything in your power to make your hatch day a success and you are a beginner, I would recommend minimal to no interference. I don’t like helping with hatching simply because I don’t know exactly what is going on inside the egg. You never know what condition the hatchlings are in or the reason why they are struggling to hatch.

Knowing when or if a hatchling needs help can be hard to judge without experience. Once you have gained some experience and know the distress signs, there are ways to minimally help your hatchlings. Two that I have had success with, when needed are helping the hatchling with the zipping.

Zipping Help – This may be necessary if you think your hatchling is stuck in one position and move around the egg to zip it be itself. You will very carefully with tweezers continue to break the shell around in a line to create a cap on the top of the shell.

 Is Hatching Eggs at Home for You?

I was skeptical at first, I had heard so many different horror stories about what could go wrong when you hatch your eggs at home. Our first two home hatches were sporadic and not very well thought out and ultimately ended with less-than-ideal results. We had 12 quail eggs and only one hatched but did not survive. 5 goose eggs with one successful happy story.

Home Hatching can be a nerve racking and stressful experience if you jump in without knowing how to correctly get started. Know your equipment, plan your hatch, finally give your eggs the time and patience they need to hatch successfully. Have a Happy Home Hatching Day!

What Comes Next? Keep Reading to Learn How to Care for Your Hatchings!

  

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