My first hatch is finished.


In the Brooder
10 Years
Nov 20, 2009
I used a homemade incubator. I got a styrofoam shipping box from my local Health Department. The box was used to ship vaccines. It is 2" thick all the way around. I used this,, as my heat source/thermostat. I attached an old compupter fan to the thermostat. The fan would only run when the unit was heating. I bought an LG turner from TSC.

The eggs I started with: 15 RIR, 10 Dominique, 10 Black Jersey Gian, and 2 EE. None of the eggs were shipped. They came from two local sources.

I put the eggs in the incubator around 6:00 PM on May, 23rd.

I used no water in the incubator for the first 18 days. The incubator was in our bedroom (which is in our basement) and my hygrometer said it was around 40% humidity for the first 18 days. At lockdown I added two containers of water and my humidity rose to around 75%.

I did experience some temperature swings. For the first 10 days or so my temps would swing from 98 to 102. After day 10, my temps would hold between 98 and 100. I measured the temp in my incubator at egg level. I did not use a "wiggler". I am guessing the temp swings inside the eggs were not as wide.

I resisted the urge to candle every few days. I only candled on day 10 and day 18. To candle I bought a 1 million candlepower (500 lumens), rechargeable spotlight from Lowe's ($10). I cut out an egg-shaped hole in the spotlight box. I would turn the spotlight on, put it back in it's box, and place an egg over the hole. Althought the beam was not real focused, it worked pretty well. It was still hard to see anything inside the green EE eggs.

Eggs left at lockdown (percentage from original egg count): RIR - 4 (27%), Dominique - 9 (90%), Jersey Giant - 9 (90%), & EE - 2 (100%) {It was hard to see in the green eggs. The eggs did not smell bad, so I kept them.}

First pip was around 9:00 AM on June, 12th. Last chick hatched sometime during the early morning hours of June, 14th. I still have the remaining eggs in the incubator. I will give them until tonight before I turn the incubator off.

What hatched (and percentage of hatch from eggs left at lockdown): RIR - 1 (25%), Dominique - 8 (89%), Jersey Giant - 9 (100%), & EE - 1 (50%)

Hatch percentage from the original number of eggs placed in the incubator: RIR - 7%, Dominique - 80%, Jersey Giant - 90%, & EE - 50%.

My observations:

Start with good eggs. I know this was my first hatch, but I'm thinking my RIR eggs had some problems from the get go.

Really, hatching is not rocket science. I am NOT a mechanical person (just ask my wife). Building the incubator was not hard (I did have a coworker solder my heating unit/thermostat). It is really just temp + humidity + turning.

Newborn chicks are LOUD! It was like they had to throw a party each time a new chick hatched. Having the incubator in our bedroom was not the best of ideas. We could not sleep. Thankfully our kids were gone last weekend. We first tried sleeping in a full bed. After being used to a king-sized bed, there was just not enough room. We ended up each sleeping in a twin bed. At least it was sleep.

All my chicks look alike. Well, at least to my untrained chicken eyes, they look alike. I mean they really look alike. Some appear slightly larger (Jersey Giants I assume), but they all have the same basic coloring. I can't even tell which chick is the RIR. I know it hatched. The empty shell is in my incubator.

My chicks must be eating well. They sure are using the bathroom well.

I have put each chick's beak in the water a couple of times, but I have yet to see one drink.

I am giving the chicks to a local feed store tomorrow. Hopefully they will find new homes pretty quickly. I may try another hatch this summer (if the feed store is willing to take the chicks to sell).
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