Advice for winter hatching

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Mister B, Dec 30, 2014.

  1. Mister B

    Mister B Songster

    Feb 7, 2013
    NW Alabama
    I was planning on hatching some eggs in February. However, I got a new incubator for Christmas (thank you family!) and my hens are in some sort of production overdrive. I'm getting several eggs per day. While school was in session, I would give most away, but now I have a backlog of nearly 3 dozen. I guess my question is can I incubate some eggs now? I'm sure I could hatch some, but how cold hardy are the chicks? Between now and late February, we will have some cold nights (upper 20's) and days stay around 30's-50's. I know for a month or so I will have to keep them under a warming light, but I want to keep them outside. I have a brooder outside. It may need some insulation to keep drafts down. Just some info about chicks or your own experience would be appreciated.
  2. Yorkshire Coop

    Yorkshire Coop Moderator

    Aug 16, 2014
    Yorkshire, UK
    My Coop
    Newly hatched chicks I would personally not reccomend having them outdoors. Cold is a top killer of chicks. Although the chicks need warmth they also need good ventilation but without drafts and I'm not sure how you would get round this outside in the cold. I brood in the house and then the garage for 6 weeks even in summer.

    Also i was going to incubate some eggs but had this pointed out to me which really made me think about hatching in winter twice -

    HOWEVER....I also believe it is best to hatch chicks so that they mature after the summer solstice. And the reason is this....if they are maturing too close to the height of the sun as daylight hours are still increasing, this can push young pullets to lay a month or so before their internal organs are ready and this will cause ALL kinds of issues especially egg binding. It puts a lot of stress on a body that might not yet be laying if they were hatched later in the year and started to lay when they were supposed to. Increasing daylight pushes poultry to lay. The shortening of the days slows this down. So I would suggest you wait until spring so when you hatch these chicks, they are mature in the fall rather at the height of summer. But these are just my humble opinions. :)

    I know how much fun hatching is and it is hard to wait!! LOL But I think you will have healthier birds if you do wait.

    Although the above is someone's opinion it really made me think but the cold would still be my bigger concern.
  3. Choco Maran

    Choco Maran Songster

    Jul 25, 2009
    Ribera New Mexico
    I would bring in the brooder into the house so it is not outside. In my past experience keeping them warm outside is hard. I live in the southwest and our nights can be in the single digits with 30 in the day. I tried an brooder in my barn the first year I had chicks and we lost about half of the chicks. Maybe someone from where you live can be better in the advice.

    As long as you have the right equipment winter hatching should not be a problem. I have eggs in a bator right now. I hope to have a good hatch but only one looks possible right now. Good luck. Hope everything turns out great for you.
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    I would wait a bit if you want to keep them outside. I have gotten chicks in early April here in MN, and keep them out in the coop with heat lamps over them. The temps can get down into the 40's, sometimes 30's at night. When I've incubated, I've kept them in the house for a couple of days - mainly because I like to watch them, but then the house begins to stink like chicken poop, and it's time for them to go. They also create lots of dust and dander that will get all over the house. I don't see any harm in hatching early if you really feel the need to.




    I should note that my "coops" are an 8x12' shed, and an 8x16' shed, both about 8' tall at the peak. The chickens love to roost in the rafters. They have vented soffits so there is no draft on the floor.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2014
  5. rainbowrooster

    rainbowrooster Songster

    Nov 26, 2011
    Hatching isn't the problem. The big problem is what to do after the chicks need more space( you never have enough) but they are no where near ready to handle the fluctuating temperatures outside. Be prepared to keep them in the basement or garage for a couple of months if you don't have an adequate outbuilding/barn. We hatch a lot in the fall and even now. In the barn I have a series of heat lamps on timers so they are on during the coldest hours for the young birds. If it is forecasted to be colder than usual the timer is disengaged ant the lights burn the entire time. Its not the easiest way but we breed for exhibition so we are done hatching before most people start.
  6. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    Cold air on their bodies isn't the only risk to raising chicks in the winter. Granted, we get a lot colder than you do - it's supposed to be 20 to 30 below zero by this evening and that's without the wind chill factor figured in. But chicks need water - lots of water - and they don't have enough sense to keep their feet dry. The result could be what I've run into with Scout, a chick hatched under a broody in late October...frostbitten, deformed feet. I thought I had plenty of time for him to feather out before the weather got cold. I was wrong. It was in the negative numbers when Scout got his feet wet.

    Rather than try to explain the whole thing in a post, I think if you click on the link to Scout's Adventure in my signature it explains and shows what happens when chicks get their feet wet in weather that gets below freezing. So unless you are prepared to brood them in the house or a warm garage or basement, I'd think you'd be much better off to wait. Now, I don't presume to know what your set-up is like, and I sure don't have the right to tell you what to do. I just know that when I look at Scout I realize that Mother Nature is much smarter than we give her credit for when it comes to the norm of baby critters coming in spring rather than winter.
    2 people like this.
  7. Mister B

    Mister B Songster

    Feb 7, 2013
    NW Alabama
    It appears that the consensus is that I should wait. I assumed as much, but I wanted to make sure. I will wait until February. Then, watch out! Baby chickens everywhere!
  8. roseyred

    roseyred Songster

    Jun 5, 2014
    I just hatched these today! You can totaly do a winter hatch just plan to keep them inside till it's warm and there 10 weeks then you could put em out in the coop with a heat sorce. [​IMG]

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