What a newbie needs to know about hatching eggs

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Smccau3, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. Smccau3

    Smccau3 In the Brooder

    May 4, 2012
    Hi all!

    I am very interested in hatching eggs. We lost a chicken recently so have room to add to our flock. However, I am relatively new to chickens and have never hatched eggs before. I have done some research but have A LOT of questions.

    1. How many eggs should I get? I don't want to be overrun by chicks, but I also don't want to end up with none. I know it's always a gamble whether any eggs will hatch or not. My ideal would be to have 3-4 chicks hatch. I would be happy with just one hatching. Is 6 eggs too little to hatch?

    2. Do I have to spend a lot of money on an incubator? I know there are a lot of gadgets associated with hatching eggs. I guess what I'm asking is what do I NEED to hatch eggs? Just at the very basic (and cheap).

    3. When is a good time to set (?) the eggs? Is it ok to do it in the winter or is it too cold for chicks? My thought is to hatch chicks in December/January so they are laying in spring/early summer.

    4. I know this is thinking far in advance, but this is the part that worries me the most. How and when do I introduce the chicks to my established flock (of 3). They already have a clear pecking order. We added a new hen to their pack when we lost one a while ago and she is still very clearly an outsider. Is it even worth it to hatch eggs if they won't be accepted by my other girls?

    I'm sure I'll have more questions soon. Thank you so much for your help!

  2. sparrow hawk

    sparrow hawk In the Brooder

    Oct 13, 2012
    Sun Valley, California
  3. bhaugh

    bhaugh Songster

    Aug 6, 2013
    Las Vegas, NV
    I recently purchased a hovabator and hatched out 3 eggs of 12. I just placed the 2 week old chicks today. Here is what I have learned:

    1. The more eggs the better to incubate. 5 of my eggs were not fertile so I was down to 7. I stopped growing. 6 eggs went to lockdown. Of those 6 only 3 hatched. Two of those that didnt hatch were completely formed but never pipped. One died somewhere in the middle. You spend a lot of time incubating, get the most chicks you can and you can sell what you don't want to keep. I got lucky and got 2 pullets, one roo. You could end up with all roo's then you will have to start over. Larger set gives you better options. And count for some of them to not make it. I was lucky that my 3 survived. Living in my dining room wasnt optimal. They chat non stop and their bedding was messy.

    Next time I want to incubate chicks that are easier to place. I hatched leghorns and was lucky someone wanted to buy them. Chicks are fun but take some work.

    I have added new pullets to an existing flock. The pullets were 2 months old and they were penned inside my larger run. They were chased a lot but now all is well. They should be laying anytime.

    I say go for it. Its pretty exciting hatching your own chicks. A great experience for sure.
  4. Smccau3

    Smccau3 In the Brooder

    May 4, 2012
    Thank you for your replies. I am still debating on whether or not I want to invest in this hobby (I know once I do it once, I'll have to do it again).

    I am very concerned about adding the chicks to our existing flock, but I also want to add more hens. We have three and have not gotten an egg in over a week (molting, cold weather).

    Would you suggest adding a mature hen (or two) to the flock or is it easier to add younger hens?
  5. Aphrael

    Aphrael Songster

    Jan 21, 2013
    First let me say I am still fairly new at this as well (had my chickens for going on two years now). From everything I've read about integrating new birds into your flock it is easiest done with more birds. If only one or two are introduced they are singled out and picked on more. If there are more of them then they will stick together and watch each others backs. If you have three hens now and want to introduce 3 or 4 more that would probably be good numbers because the newcomers won't be outnumbered. Also if you raise them from chicks make sure they are old enough and big enough to protect themselves before putting them in with the others. If you could rig up a kind of growout pen right alongside the main pen for them to go into when they are old enough to be outside that could be helpful as well. It would let the older hens see them and get to know them without the young ones being in danger of getting attacked.

  6. When you integrate your flocks make sure they are around the same size. I recently put 4 pullets into my flock they lived in a grow out pen that is connected to my big run and could see each other every day. I waited until night time and just put them on the roosts, the next day there was a little pecking but it went pretty well.

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