What month?

Discussion in 'Hatch-A-Longs' started by ndchicken, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. ndchicken

    ndchicken New Egg

    Feb 3, 2013
    Verona North Dakota
    What month should I start to incubate my chicken eggs? This will be my first time incubating and I don't really know what to do. I also live in North Dakota so it gets a lot colder here.
  2. Makomd

    Makomd Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2011
    ES of MD , USA
    As long as you have the means to keep them warm until feathered, anytime is good. Consider this, if you start incubating now, the chicks will hatch around end of Feb/early March. 20 weeks or so to laying and you will be in July/August. I will begin to start incubating this next weekend, already got the breeding pens together a couple of weeks ago.

    Good Luck
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    IF you can provide chicks with a couple heat lamps, prevent drafts and have a reliable source of electricity I don't think there is a time of year off limits. I probably wouldn't want to brood chicks when the temps are single digits. I've brooded chicks in my unheated, uninsulated brooder house(a 8X12 garden shed) in temps as low as the teens and never lost any.
    I have a couple nice homemade hovers that have a 150 Watt and a 250 Watt heat lamp at each end. I don't even bother with a thermometer. I know that close to the lamps it is at least 90 degrees but probably warmer. The chicks usually hang out in the center or along the edges. I just hatched 9 chicks Wednesday and they would have gone into the brooder house today but we just got almost 6 inches of snow last night and I'll need to wait another day to move the 5-7 week olds in there to their grow out pen.
    I separated my roosters putting them in a bachelor pad for the coldest weather so I'm done hatching till I move them back with the hens probably March 1.
    Are your eggs fertile? Roosters need to be photo stimulated like hens do.

    What I like about fall/winter hatching is not having to wait till fall for eggs from new birds.
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    I hatch every spring. Have been making it a tradition to do so for Easter weekend which means I'll start collecting eggs from the girls in 3 weeks over a span of 2 weeks then setting March 9th. There several large hatching groups here on BYC but largest with contests and such is the Easter hatch along. If your interested search 4th annual Easter hatch.

    For us in Northern New Hampshire the timing of an Easter hatch is good. In general it gives you month of April to brood then the feathered birds go outside in May weather just fine.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    :frow Welcome to the forum! :frow Glad you joined us! :frow

    It’s a reasonable question but really hard to answer. It depends a whole lot on your set-up and goals.

    Some people say they have lower fertility in the winter and others say it’s not a problem. I suspect there are some differences other than just the weather involved. I have a bunch in the incubator right now. I candled and have pretty good fertility, about the same as in warmer months.

    If you incubate in the house, the outside weather really doesn’t affect that. If you are subject to extended power outages, you might want to think about that.

    Where do you plan to brood them? My brooder is in the coop. I just keep one area warm and let the rest cool off as it will. Sometimes the rest of the incubator gets pretty cool. When a broody raises chicks, she does not heat the entire world. She provides a warm place for the chicks to go to when they need to warm up. I work off the same concept. It works for me. I have no idea what your facilities are like or how you plan to manage them.

    By raising mine in the coop and letting them get acclimated to cooler temperatures, I can take the heat away earlier than someone that keeps them in warm conditions. To me, there is not a magic age that they can go outside. It depends on your weather, the conditions they are going into, and how well they are acclimated to those conditions. I’ll give a couple of examples.

    Last summer when we were having a triple-digit heat wave, I took the daytime heat off chicks in my brooder at 2 days. The overnight heat stopped at 5 days. Days, not weeks. They were telling me by their actions they did not need the added heat.

    Last fall I kept heat on the chicks in the brooder for 5 weeks. That was just in one end. The rest of the brooder cooled off quite a bit. Overnight lows were in the mid 40’s Fahrenheit. They spent a lot of time in the cooler parts of that brooder. When they were 5 weeks old I moved them to my unheated grow-put coop. Both brooder and grow-out coop have good draft protection and good ventilation. There were about 20 of them so they could help keep each other warm if they needed to. When they were 5-1/2 weeks old, the overnight temperature dropped to the mid 20’s Fahrenheit. They were fine but if they had not been in that brooder where they could get acclimated, I’m not sure how well they would have done.

    Those are examples of why I don’t think there is one magic age that suits everybody.

    Something else to consider. What are your goals for these chicks? The earlier in the year you hatch them, the earlier they will start to lay or will be ready to eat. The later you hatch them the better your outside temperatures will be. If you wait until really late to hatch them, they may not start to lay until next spring. If they start to lay this fall, there is a reasonable chance (A chance. I don’t give guarantees) they will skip the molt and lay straight through until next fall.

    I don’t think there is a perfect time for everyone in your climate. There are a few trade-offs and some things you will have to deal with whatever you choose. Good luck whatever that choice is and once again :frow
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Exactly what I consider and following nature's guidance has worked well for me.

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