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Hatching chicks in Wisconsin

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by oreagano, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. oreagano

    oreagano New Egg

    Aug 20, 2016
    Hey guys, I was just wondering when the best time to hatch eggs in Wisconsin is. Knowing it takes about three weeks for an egg to hatch, and a few more weeks in the brooder box, what time of the year should I start to incubate eggs? I don't want them to outgrow the brooder box before it's warm enough to add them to the coop. Any help is appreciated, I'm a relatively new chicken farmer.
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    This is a pretty popular question this time of year, others will be glad you asked. There is no simple answer. Some people are hatching now, some will order chicks to arrive in the mail very soon, and some will wait for warmer weather. Some will brood in their house, others in their garage, and yet others in the coop or some other detached outbuilding. What’s best for some people is not best for others.

    As long as you can provide food, water, protection from the environment (wind and rain), protection from predators, and proper heating you can brood anytime anywhere. I collected eggs for hatching last week with a few days never getting above freezing. When they hatch at the end of this month they will go straight to my brooder built into my coop. The biggest challenge to me in brooding out of doors is temperature swings. Those chicks will probably see days in the 60’s, they will probably see temperatures in the single digits, teens for sure, by the time they are a few weeks old. My brooder is large enough and set up so I can keep one end warm enough in the coldest temperatures they will see, with another area cool enough in the warmest temperatures they will experience. The chicks self-regulate, going to the areas that are comfortable.

    I’ve had chicks go through temperatures below freezing before they were 6 weeks old in my unheated grow-out coop. But that coop has great breeze protection, good ventilation up high, the chicks were acclimated to cold temperatures by being exposed to cold temperatures as they were growing up, they ate 20% protein Chick Starter so they were well feathered out, and there were enough of them to help keep each other warm by huddling if they needed to. If the chicks were raised indoors in a tropical environment I’d be more concerned about exposing them to really cold temperatures at this age.

    I’m going through this to show that it is not a simple answer. How cold it actually gets, the quality of your outside facilities, how well they are acclimated and feathered out, and how much you trust a stranger like me on the internet all come into play and that’s just when they can go outside without supplemental heat. Some people enjoy brooding them in the house, others have trouble with dust, noise, or potentially smell and will only brood out of doors. Some have family members or regular visitors allergic to chicks or the dust and can’t brood in the house.

    I don’t know your goals or why you want to hatch chicks. I hatch them now because I mostly raise them to eat and I’ll run out of chicken in the freezer this summer if I don’t hatch now. People hatching for show may need to hatch now so the chickens are ready for a specific show. The earlier you hatch chickens, the sooner they start to lay. If you are into a breeding program you may be able to save a season in your development by hatching when eggs are available instead of waiting on the calendar.

    To me the advantages of waiting to hatch is that it is easier to collect good hatching eggs if the weather is above freezing, especially if you are not home all day. Some people have fertility problems in winter, especially if the rooster is molting, some don’t. A lot of people are more comfortable either brooding them outdoors or moving them out of the house earlier if the weather is warmer, especially their first time or two through the process.

    I can hardly ever tell people what is “best” for them. We are all so unique in goals, set-ups, climate, risk tolerance, experience, and so many other ways that best for me might not be best for you. Good luck whichever way you go.
  3. oreagano

    oreagano New Egg

    Aug 20, 2016
    Wow! Thanks Ridgerunner! I plan on hatching layers for fun this spring! Last spring we got 6 leghorn hens. We hope to increase our flock size this year. Thanks again for the advice[​IMG]

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