Incubation and hatching can be the most rewarding, happy experience. It can also be a very stressful time. There's a lot that can go wrong.
It's important to be aware of the need to care for your hatching eggs long before you put them into your incubator. Looking after them at that stage gives them the best possible start and is more likely to lead to a successful hatch.
From basic facts about fertile eggs, to how to choose the best, how to transport them, and how to store them before they go into the incubator, the links on this page go to articles covering all those issues - and more!
Taking time to read these articles will to make sure your incubating and hatching experience all goes as well as possible for you.
There's a lot of information here. No time to read it all now? Why not Pin for later!
If you're considering either buying or hatching your own chicks, there are five critical questions you need to ask yourself before you take the plunge.
From what you'll do with any males to dealing with the poop, to the financial costs involved, this article helps you think through them one by one.
If they're not at least considered, you run the risk of your chicken experience not being a happy one. Take a few minutes now to think through the implications to avoid heartache in the future.
So you've made the decision to incubate. Now you need to know about fertile eggs and how to treat them.
This article covers frequently asked questions about fertile eggs, from whether a hen need a rooster to lay eggs, to the meaning of blood on the yolk, to whether it's possible to tell if an egg is fertile before it goes into the incubator.
This article takes ten facts about fertile eggs and gives you the facts - backed by evidenced information. Read it before you decide which eggs to put into your incubator.
You've made the decision to incubate and hatch, and you know some useful facts about fertile eggs. Now you need to know how to find them.
If you're incubating from within your own flock this won't be a problem as long as your chickens are healthy. But buying from someone else can be a nightmare.
This article advises how to find a place to buy near you, and how to tell whether a seller is reputable or not.
Wherever you've decided to buy your eggs for incubation - even if they're your own - it's important to know how to choose those which will have the best possible chance of success.
This article covers the features to look for when choosing which eggs to put into your incubator, including features like age, storage, porosity and, importantly the care of the hens who lay the eggs in the first place!
Choosing the right eggs can greatly increase your chance of successfully hatching. Don't pass this article by.
Whether you've ordered eggs from a hatchery or breeder and they're being sent by post, or you're sending them yourself, there are issues about using mail or courier which you need to be aware of.
This article covers in detail how eggs should be packed, the risks of sending by post and how they can be reduced; the legalities of carrying eggs across state borders; and what to do with eggs you receive through the post.
Including which way up eggs should be stored before incubation, this is an important pre-incubation article.
Is it possible - or even legal - to take fertile eggs between countries? How can it be done, and what are the risks?
Given that it's difficult for me to source different chicken breeds in Italy, I've done this several times. I have experience over several years of taking eggs on short-haul flights between the UK and Italy.
This article details my experience and looks at whether there's any evidence that travel by air has a bad effect on the hatchability of fertile eggs.
So you have your eggs, you've checked to make sure they're in good condition and discarded any that aren't, and now you need to store them safely, until they're ready to go into the incubator.
After travel, eggs need to be kept for about 24 hours before incubating to make sure any damage done during travel is reduced.
This article covers everything from cleanliness to temperature to turning and, most importantly of all, which way up the eggs should be kept.
So you've decided to hatch, you have your eggs, you've kept them safe and now it's time to incubate. But you still have some basic questions.
From whether a hen who's not laying can still incubate chicks to whether different breeds of chicks and different types of poultry can be incubated at the same time, to how old eggs can be to still give a successful hatch, this article is detailed and thorough.
It will also help you to understand the ideal conditions the incubator needs to be in when the eggs are finally set.
Now you need to make sure you have the right equipment to start the incubation process.
Even if you already have it, it's important to know how best to set it up and use it in order to make sure you have the best possible chance of a successful hatch.
This series of articles describes the equipment you'll need from start to end of the incubation process, including incubators, both commercial and home made, candlers, and brooders for the day your chicks hatch.
It also contains links to articles about how to set up and use all the equipment you'll need.
Once your eggs are in the incubator, you have at least 21 days to wait before you have chicks.
Why not spend at least some of that time thinking about all the possible names you might call your new flock when they hatch?
This page contains hundreds of names from all kinds of different places. Some I've compiled for you, and many have been added by other readers. Why not add yours to the list?!
You're bound to find some you love - in fact, the problem will be choosing which to go for!
Gail Damerow is one of the world's leading experts on hatching and raising chicks at home or in schools. This book is widely looked on by those who know as their go-to resource when incubating.
I review "Hatching and Brooding Your Own Chicks" from the perspective of content reliability, language and whether it's easy to understand, and who would be the ideal person to buy.
It's a full and thorough review, including asking whether objections raised by others who have bought it are fair or not.