How to incubate chicken eggs: a day by day guide.

So you want to hatch chicken eggs at home or school but find the process a bit daunting?

It absolutely can be! So much can go wrong at any stage, and without a guide it's almost impossible to understand what's right, what's not, and what to do when something doesn't seem to be the way it should.

Been there, done that! I've hatched chicks every year for the last twelve years and experienced more or less everything from great joy to intense sadness, and everything in between.

And now I'm sharing that information with you!

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Knowing what to look for at each stage of incubation can make the whole process much easier and less stressful to deal with – and as a bonus, kids love to see how their chicks are changing and developing each day!

So let me be your experienced guide. 

From the minute detail of how your chick is growing to tasks you need to undertake at each stage, you'll find links here to detailed information about how to incubate chicken eggs for a successful hatch.

Use the links below to find your way through the sometimes bewildering day-to-day process of incubating and hatching chicken eggs.

Each day's information includes which parts of the chick are developing; what can be seen using the candling process; what we need to do to make sure the chick keeps growing; and what can go wrong, with solutions for putting it right!

The information is delivered by content based on not only my experience, but researched detail from expert studies; images of what's happening inside the egg each day; and, where appropriate, video of the candling process showing what to look for at critical stages of incubation.

If you're looking for specific days, use these links:

If you're considering incubating but aren't sure where to start, see this section.

If you're looking for a shorter course about incubation, this is where you need to be

Baby chicks coloured yellow in a fun line drawing used as a divider.

How to incubate chicken eggs: week 1.

Chicken eggs take approximately three weeks (21 days) to develop. The days of development fit neatly into three separate weeks: week 1 sees the egg develop from a tiny collection of cells to an embryo which is visible to the naked eye when using a candling lamp.

Click the button links to take you to whichever day you need to know about. The final link in this section is to my review of Gail Damerow's "Hatching and Brooding Your Own Chicks" which I highly recommend if you intend to incubate chicken eggs.

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Thumbnail link: incubating, day 2.
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Thumbnail link: incubating chicken eggs, day 4.
Thumbnail link: incubating day 5
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Thumbnail link to incubating day 7.
Incubating and hatching your own chicks - book review - link.
Baby chicks coloured yellow in a fun line drawing used as a divider.

How to incubate chicken eggs: week 2.

Week 2 is in many ways the most interesting and exciting week of the incubation process. From the tiny speck of week 1, we can watch the chick develop into a much larger being with recognisable parts. 

The final link in this section is to information about preparing a chick brooder – because that's a task you'll need to undertake as we come to the start of week 3 and anticipate the arrival of your mini-flock.

Thumbnail link: incubating chicken eggs at day 8.
Thumbnail link: incubating chicken eggs at day 9: what to see and what to do.
Thumbnail link: incubating day 10. Part of my day-by-day guide.
Thumbnail link: incubating chickens' eggs at day 11. What to do, what to look for, what can go wrong.
Thumbnail link: how to incubate chicken eggs: day 12.
Thumbnail link: incubating day 13.
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Chick brooders: what they are and how to make them. Link to article.
Baby chicks coloured yellow in a fun line drawing used as a divider.

How to incubate chicken eggs: week 4.

At last, the final week has arrived and we can expect to meet our baby chicks for the first time at its end. 

But nature sometimes has a habit of not doing exactly what we expect it to do. This week's articles cover what's happening in the egg, what needs to change in the incubator as we go into "chicken egg lockdown", and why we shouldn't panic if the babies decide not to appear exactly on time!

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Thumbnail link: incubating at day 16.
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How to lock down your incubator at day 19 - link.
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Thumbnail link: incubating day 20.
Thumbnail link: incubating day 21.
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Looking for information about how to prepare before incubating chicken eggs?

If you're considering incubating chicken eggs and you've never done it before, these articles will help you set everything up to increase the chances of a successful hatch.

Read them before you start at Day 1 of the incubation process.

Getting chicks? Ask yourself these questions first. Link.
Where to find fertile hatching eggs. Link.
Incubating equipment explained - link.
Link to Raising Happy Chickens home page.