If you want to start taking care of chicks, but you don’t have any poultry animals to help you get started yet, your best choice would be to buy hatching eggs from breeders.
By doing so, you won’t need to work with hens and roosters, which can either be hard to find or simply costly. Not to mention, it can also take a lot of time and effort to get the two to mate. There is no guarantee that you will end up with fertilized eggs, nor will they grow into chicks.
That said, there’s no doubt that working with hatching eggs is one of the most beginner-friendly ways that you can use to form and flock and start your own poultry farm.
If you’re interested to know how the process will go, you’re in the right place. In the following sections, we will talk about everything you need to know when buying the eggs and caring for them even after they hatch.
What are Hatching Eggs?
Basically, hatching eggs are fertilized eggs laid by a hen or any mother poultry animal some time after mating. By fertilized, this means that the eggs have chicks in them, which can hatch through artificial and/or natural incubation, whichever is done by the handler.
Hatching eggs are usually sold by breeders to people who want to start taking care of poultry animals and eventually have a handful of flocks either as a hobby or for profit.
Things to Consider When Buying a Hatching Egg
First, let us go through the things you need to consider when looking into hatching eggs for sale. This is very important since the set of eggs that you’ll buy will play a big part in the end results that you should expect.
That said, here are the five main things you should take into account:
Hatching Egg Type
There are several types of hatching eggs that you can own and grow. In poultry, your main choices include quail, chicken, and duck eggs. In fact, your choices can even extend to any animal that lays an egg, even those that are outside of the poultry field.
It’s important that you carefully choose the egg type that you will commit to since many factors will depend on this aspect. Specifically, it will affect the kind of incubator you need, the size of the brooder, the type of probiotics and feeds, and the likes. Each egg also has different growth requirements, which means that the overall process will vary depending on what you’re taking care of.
The Size, Shape, and Age of the Egg
Three other things that you should consider are the size, shape, and age of the hatching eggs.
The egg’s size will indicate the necessary incubation and temperature that it needs to grow. You should want something that isn’t too small since it will affect the chick’s body once it hatches. At the same time, it shouldn’t also be too big to avoid issues in the hatching process itself. Both won’t yield high-quality results and, of course, healthy chicks.
The shape, on the other hand, will also affect the chick’s condition throughout the hatching process. Ideally, you need to look for something that has a blunt side on one end and a sharp side on the other. Avoid buying irregularly shaped eggs since there is a high chance that the chick inside it is suffering from issues like an inborn disease or malnourishment.
For the age, avoid buying hatching eggs that are two weeks old and above. It’s best if they are between seven to ten days old since this range has the best hatchability rate. As the egg grows older without getting proper incubation, the chance of the chick hatching constantly lowers.
Buying a hatching egg won’t be as tricky if you buy it from a reputable seller. Make sure that the breeder produces the eggs in a sanitary coop with hens and roosters that are properly taken care of. Doing so will guarantee that the eggs you will hatch are of high quality.
The seller will also be responsible for the safety of the eggs during delivery, so inquire about their packaging once you get the chance to talk to them. Some green flags include a “fragile” label, newspaper stuffing for each egg, proper placement, and usage of sturdy cardboard boxes.
Avoid those that seem like they don’t give much thought about this aspect since chances are, you may get numerous broken eggs upon delivery.
You can always read customer reviews to get a good view of a seller’s way of processing hatching eggs.
What to Do Once You Get the Hatching Egg
If you do everything right during the buying process, you can expect to have high-quality hatching eggs delivered at your front door. Note, though, that your tasks don’t end with this. There are a number of things that you should do before you get excited about the actual hatching process.
To get a clearer view, here is a step-by-step guide that you can use as a reference:
1. Set Expectations
First, we have to set out your expectations. One of the most important things that you should know is that not every egg will hatch. This applies no matter how their quality is, how old the eggs are, or if you followed every standard we talked about in the previous sections.
Keep in mind that you will be working with various internal and external factors, so it’s a given that many aspects will affect the egg’s hatchability rate.
Moreover, no matter how secure the packaging of a seller is, there are certain instances when some eggs can still come in broken because of transportation issues. In this case, the fault lies in the courier, and the only thing that you can do is to talk to the seller for possible remedies.
2. Inspect the Hatching Eggs
Once you have laid out your expectations, cleared misconceptions, and the likes, the second step will now require you to inspect the eggs. Check each one to see if they have cracks, unwanted dirt, and other irregularities.
This is also the time where you check if the eggs are really fertile or if the seller you transacted with gave you infertile ones. You can do this by candling the egg. If there is a stem cell membrane, the egg is fertile. Otherwise, you got an infertile egg.
Note that candling doesn’t mean literally putting the egg above the lighted candle. To do this, simply turn off the lights or go to a place with dim lights. Put the egg above a flashlight, and start looking for the membrane.
3. Clean Dirty Eggs
You don’t have to go to certain lengths to clean the surface of the eggs you plan to hatch. Simply wiping the shells with a dry cloth will do. This isn’t necessary and is only recommended if you’re dealing with dirt-stained eggs. Make sure to do this very gently to avoid breakage issues.
One thing that you should highly avoid doing in this step is washing the eggs and dipping them in water since it can remove the egg’s protective coating. This can terribly affect the egg’s hatchability rate and consequently take a toll on the unborn chicks.
Apart from cleaning the exterior of the age and keeping it free from dirt and grime, it’s necessary that you disinfect the eggs before starting the hatching process. Doing so will let you eliminate all the lingering bacteria on the shells and the pathogens that can affect the chicks’ growth.
There are several disinfection methods that you can use. If you have a budget, you should opt for UV sanitization. You can easily buy tools for this online. You can also opt for fumigating the eggs using formaldehyde. Some experts in the field wash the egg in water, but if you’re a beginner, this isn’t recommended.
5. Prepare Storage
Generally, you need to prepare two types of storage for your hatching eggs.
The first one involves trays and will be put inside the incubator for the next step. You can opt for store-bought ones if you have the budget. Alternatively, you can work with DIY trays using cardboard, plastic, or wood. You will need building skills if you choose the latter, though.
The second one is the brooder, which will be needed after the whole hatching process is done. Again, there are store-bought and DIY-based ones. Both will work. You just have to be mindful of the size and material that will be used to ensure that the chicks will stay safe and comfortable.
6. Set Up Incubation
The sixth step finally involves setting up the incubator and putting the eggs through the incubation process. You need a reliable incubator to do this. This is also where you will need the egg trays.
First, place the eggs in the tray. The larger or blunter side of the egg should face up, while the smaller or sharper end should face down against the incubator.
For the incubation, there are two main things that you should modify in the settings — temperature and humidity. The temperature should be kept at 100.5�F at all times for chicken eggs. Humidity, on the other hand, should be around 50% to 55% humidity. The specifics will still vary depending on the egg that you’re growing.
7. Wait for Eggs’ Growth Progress
Once everything is set, there is nothing left to do but wait for the egg’s growth and hatching progress. Generally, the timetable will last for around 21 days.
Some eggs may hatch earlier or faster, depending on their type and structure. Either way, make sure that the incubator stays in the right setting throughout the period. Being exposed to the wrong temperature and humidity level can severely affect the chicks’ condition.
How to Care for the Chicks After Hatching
Say that after around 21 days, you end up with healthy, newly-hatched chicks. What do you need to do after? Do you immediately bring them to the coop to interact with other chickens, or do they stay in the incubator? What do they need in order to fully survive until they become mature chickens, ducks, etc.? Below are all the things that you should know:
Transferring the Chicks
Don’t get too excited once a chick hatches in the incubator. You have to wait until each one of the eggs is hatched. After 12 to 24 hours, that is only the right time when you can take them out and transfer them to the brooder. You may notice that their bodies are damp, but you have to keep them this way.
Moreover, don’t expose them to the external environment too much yet since they still have to get the right humidity and temperature in their new place. Humidity, most especially, has to be kept at a high level once transferred to the brooder. This will keep their bodies damp and warm while still developing.
Your chicks need an accessible source of clean water, both in the incubator and the brooder. This should be your main priority since the chicks are prone to dehydration. Starter feed should also be provided in moderation. In both aspects, both the water and food source should have just the right size for the chicks to be able to access them without drowning or falling in the container. Look for a chicken waterer when setting this up.
Using probiotics is also a good step to take, but make sure to do this in moderation. This will be beneficial for the chicks’ immune system and gut health, but giving too much may affect their health in the long run.
Know When to Leave the Chicks Alone
Newly-hatched chicks are only days old at most. It’s understandable if you feel excited because they’re finally up, but it’s important to know when to leave them alone. At this time, your role revolves only around providing them with their needs, which is what we discussed earlier. Avoid touching them if unnecessary. Playing with them is also not recommended, so they won’t get stressed.
To ensure that you will end up with high-quality hatching eggs and healthy chicks, it’s important that you’re fully knowledgeable about what you should do from the start of the process up to the very end. This also applies to the things that you shouldn’t do to keep the eggs and chicks from flourishing.
On a side note, keep in mind that one of the largest factors that will affect the quality of the hatching eggs is the seller or the place where you’ll buy them from. When looking for hatching eggs for sale, make sure that you thoroughly inspect the breeder, egg source, and likes. Doing so will ensure that you’ll get your time and money’s worth.
That said, if you don’t know where to buy eggs yet, I suggest looking into the hatching eggs I sell on my site. I offer quail, chicken, and duck eggs, all of which are high-quality. You can fill up this form if you have any questions.