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Raising Chickens? How Long Should Chicks Be in the Incubator?


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Hatching chicks is one of the most beautiful aspects of raising chickens. Watching the shell break and the tiny beak pushing through the air cell is an enthralling experience.

There are a few important things that should be kept in mind while hatching checks, such as the length of time they are kept in the incubator. Most people go by rules and follow some pre-fixed length of time, which is not correct. The incubation time depends on several factors.

It takes 21 days of incubation for a chicken embryo to turn into a chick. However, it also depends on the flock age; embryos of flocks that are less than 30 weeks old may need about 5 to 7 hours extra to develop properly, when compared to the older flocks. But flocks that are 60 weeks or older produce embryos that need much more incubation time.

Incubation time also depends on how the eggs are stored. This is because both the yolk and albumen undergo changes during storage. Damage is caused to the embryo when eggs are stored for too long. Time of incubation increases by one hour for eggs that have been stored for more than three days, and it should be calculated for every extra day of storage after those three days.

Temperature in the incubator is another important factor that is proven to be very important for the growth of a chicken embryo. The hatching time goes up by four hours, when the incubator temperature decreases by 0.5 degrees C. The same thing happens when the incubator temperature is too high at more than 39 degrees C, after the 16th day, the incubation time increases. Throughout the incubation process, the temperature should be checked on a daily basis; because when the embryos are forming into chicks, there will be an increase in temperature, because they generate heat.

To hatch the best quality chicks, it is important to take them out from the incubator when about 90 to 95% of the chicks are dry, even if 5 to 10% of the chicks are still wet around the neck.

This becomes important because when chicks are taken out sooner than needed, they will be considered as second class, because they are not totally dry. On the other hand, if chicks are left for too long in the hatcher, the risk of death in the first week due to dehydration is high. Even if they happen to survive, dehydrated chicks are said to be poor performers at the farm level.

Following these steps ensures that the batch of chicks hatched will be of top quality and good performers.

Matthew Smith has been working with poultry for many years. Advice is offered on keeping and raising chickens .


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