Incubating chicken eggs: the journey from speck to chick in 21 days.

Incubating and hatching your own chicken eggs is an amazing experience – but if you've not done it before, it can feel quite stressful.

In these articles, I guide you through the process on all twenty-one days of the incubation cycle, week by week.

Following along, you'll know exactly what should be happening, what to do, and what you need to look out for at every stage.

How to incubate and hatch chicks. Pin for later.

Do you feel like this?

Are you excited – and at the same time terrified?

I'll let you into a secret: I was more nervous incubating chicken eggs for the first time than at almost any other time of my life. I fussed about like the proverbial mother hen, worrying about anything and everything that could go wrong. 

Occasionally, when I thought I'd done everything wrong, I cried.

If you feel a bit like that, you need to know - it doesn't have to be that way!

There are very definite patterns from the start of incubation right through to hatching time. Recognising them will help you identify whether your eggs are following the right path.

Even if you're not hatching eggs yourself, it's a fascinating journey to see.

Once you've done it you'll feel euphoric, satisfied, elated, proud – and confident enough to do it all over again. I guarantee, you'll be hooked!

So join with me here and let the journey begin!

How to incubate chicken eggs, day by day

Thumbnail link to a detailed, day by day incubation guide.

The guide on the remainder of this page is a week by week description of what happens during incubation.

If you would prefer a more comprehensive guide, this goes through the process one day at a time.

Including images of what's happening to the egg day by day, it's ideal if you have children who want to know all the detail of what's going on.

Incubating chicken eggs, days 1 - 7

The same patterns happen no matter which chicken breeds or what size of egg you incubate. 

This article covers the first seven days of incubation: what's happening inside the egg, what you can expect to see from the outside looking in, and how a mother hen can act as our role model as we go through the process.

The hatching process, days 1 to 7.

Hatching chickens, stage 2: Days 8 - 13

The middle phase of the hatching process is probably the most exciting (other than hatch day, obviously!).

Use your candling devices to see the spider inside, and watch the embryo grow, day by day.

Get to know how big your chick is now, and which body parts are developing every day.

Link to the developing chicken egg, days 8 to 13

Hatching chicks, days 14 - 19

This is when it starts to hot up! Your chick is getting ready to hatch, but what can you see as it begins to fill the egg? 

Does it move? What does it look like at this stage? And what should you be doing, day by day?

This article covers it all.

The hatching process link to days 14 to 19

Incubator lockdown

How to lock down your incubator - link.

To ensure a successful hatch, the incubator should be locked down at the end of day 18 – earlier for bantam eggs. 

If it's not done properly, chicks can die or struggle to hatch.

This article describes the five simple steps you should take to make sure your incubator is properly set up.

Incubating chicken eggs, step 4: days 20 and 21

Three weeks of excitement mixed with worry and anticipation, and your chicks are almost here. But we're not out of the woods yet.

Let's talk about  what to expect as the chick prepares to move out of the egg, and what you should be doing as you wait for the big day.

Link to days 20 and 21 of the hatching process

Hatching time! Day 21 of incubation.

Thumbnail day 21 detailed page part of email course

This is a detailed page about day 21 of incubation, including information about what's happening in the egg, the different stages of a chick hatching, what can go wrong and whether it's ever right to help a struggling hatchling.

Part of my short email course on navigating the critical stages of incubating.

Incubating: your questions, answered.

button link to frequently asked questions about incubating: click to see the article.

The most popular, frequently asked questions from the basics of what incubating is to the technicalities of temperature and humidity levels, using broody hens and the equipment you'll need.

Whether you're intending to incubate and hatch your own chicks, or you've already started, these questions are bound to be those you'd want to ask, too.

Hatching: your questions, answered

Hatching questions, answered - link.

There are ten questions which almost everyone who incubates chicken eggs asks as the chicks come to hatch.

This article answers those questions, based on my experience of twelve years' hatching.

From how long it takes to hatch, to when to move a chick into the brooder - it's all here.

Preparing to incubate and hatch? You may find these related articles helpful, too.

Where to find fertile hatching eggs. Link.
Cackle hatchery: click to read my review.
Button link: 9 Brinsea incubators compared: features, automation, temperature and humidity controls, turning, capacity and cost.
Brinsea's Mini Advance incubator - an honest review (link).
How to candle chicken eggs - link.
A review of Brinsea's egg candlers - link.
What does incubator lockdown mean? Link.
Incubating and hatching your own chicks - book review - link.
All about caring for new chicks. Link.
Link to Raising Happy Chickens home page.