What is the bare minimum you need to hatch eggs successfully?


12 Years
May 11, 2009
Kentucky, Cecilia
Ok so after my very long stressful season so far I am thinking maybe hatching my own might not be such a bad thing. It can't be worse than trying to segregate all the newbies anyway. So what would I need. I have hatched goose and duck eggs before. I just had a cheap little cooler type incubator. put water in the well, turn eggs twice a day. That was about it. Our hatches seemed always to go pretty well. Everyone hatched and we had very few come have a hard time.

So I have been reading and lurking in this section for a while and it seems like chickens might be much harder. What exactly do I need to get started really. Brooder box for afters i am sure, incubator, thermometer, something to read humidity, a sponge just in case I cannot get humidity high enough. Thats my list so far. Anything else thats really needed. Will the cheapie ones work ok enough? I have one hen showing signs of being broody but I don't know if she will actually finish the job once she has started it and honestly I won't find out now because the heat seems to have put her off it.


Longfeather Lane
12 Years
Jun 10, 2010
I'm pretty sure you're supposed to turn an odd number of times per day, at least 3 times, for chickens at least.

As for what you need- I probably have close to the bare minimum. I have a little hovabator styrofoam incubator. It came with an egg turner, which is fortunate due to my hectic schedule, a therometer (some people recommend getting a 2nd thermometer to check accuracy, flux of a couple degrees can kill chicks), a plastic dish in the bottom for water, and a coated metal grate for the chick to stand on after hatching. The first hatch I did I did not have anything to measure humidity, I just followed their directions, but I ended up buying one for my next hatch because the chicks had a tough hatch due to not enough humidity. As you seem to have all this, you should be set to hatch.

If there was anything I would add to the list, it would be to find a really bright light to make a candler. It's not really necessary, but you will consider it necessary after your first egg explodes in the incubator because you didn't candle to find out which eggs were bad and which were good.

Incubator (auto turner optional, expect temp fluxes without one from opening incubator)
Water source (your sponge will work)
Tools to measure temp and humidity
Candling tool
Brooder box

You'll also want to be careful what you put in the bottom of your brooder box- I use sawdust/pine shavings, and I know others use paper towels. You really want to avoid any smooth surface bottom lining (like folded newspaper) or things which can cause respiratory issues (like cedar chips/shavings) or things which they might consume and poison themselves (like shredded newspaper or treated shavings). Chicks peck at everything, food or not.

You'll have to find a food and water dish that they can't spill or get into, obviously. If they can get into the food dish, they will and they will kick it all over the place. If they can get into the water dish, they may drown even in a few centimeters of water. Or they can be like one of my chicks and get into the water dish and just stand there screaming. Over and over until I took it out and replaced it with one they couldn't get into.


11 Years
May 19, 2008
East Bethel MN
Bare minimum for me is one broody hen, a clothes pin for your nose (broody poo is horrible) Feed/water dishes and a brooder box to put them in. Takes the guess work out of using incubators. I have never had much luck with the incubator I used to have but have 100% hatch rates using the hens

If you choose to use an incubator run it for a few days prior to putting the eggs in to make sure the temps and humidity are where they need to be and stable.

2- good thermometer/hydrometer(sp)
4-wet sponge
5- rocks to fill in the empty slots on the bator also helps keep temps stable and even
6- brooder box
7- heat lamp
8- chick starter feed (I use the NON medicated)
9- pine shavings
10- paper towels
water and feed dishes (I add stones to the waterer so the chicks don't climb in there and drown
11- another thermometer for the brooder or use the one you had in the bator to make sure temps are at 95 degrees the first week then drop 5 degrees each week until fully feathered
12- have fun

Watch closely for pasty butt. That can kill a chick in a hurry. If it becomes a regular issue slather some vasoline on their rear so the poo can't stick there anymore. ONce the chicks hatch and dry in the incubator make sure the brooder is ready to go for them. Put pine shavings on the floor of brooder and add a few layers of paper towels on top. when the paper towels get messy take a layer off. I usually use the paper towels for the first 3 days or so then put them on the pine shavings.

Buttercup Chillin

11 Years
Oct 27, 2008
SouthEast TX
If you have hatched Duck and Goose eggs successfuly. Chckens won't be a problem at all for you. Ducks are harder and I have heard that Goose are even harder.
Check out the home made incubator threads. People have made partly automatic turners or at least turners that you turn easily. Lots of ideas for you to ponder.

Go for it.


12 Years
May 11, 2009
Kentucky, Cecilia
Thats good to know. I will definitely check out the home made ones. I did baby chicks this season already but I think I would like to hatch some out myself.


9 Years
Feb 14, 2010
You can buy a cheap accurite digital combination thermometer/hyrgrometer at Wal-Mart for around $7, but regardless of what you buy for a hygrometer make sure you callibrate it b/c I dont care how expensive or cheap most will be off. http://exoticpets.about.com/od/herpresources/ss/hygrometer.htm.
During days 1-18 I shoot for 50-55 and on days 18-21 shoot for 65-75.

Incubator still air turner optional (without a turner turning three times keeps them from resting on the same side each night which is the longest
period between turns.)
Water source (tray sponges etc) will need more surface area for lockdown

For Lock down
slip resistent rubber shelf liner (I put it over the floor of wire mesh to help them get there footing better to help prevent spraddle leg)
Sponges or small bowls to put in bator to increase humidity for lock down (just becareful not to get it to high)

Once lock down begins and you get it all adjusted do not open the bator.

They are right though if you hatched ducks and geese you will be fine with chickens they only take 21 days (if you put them in on a monday the 21st day is a monday)

Good Luck!!!

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