How Hard is Hatching Chickens?

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 09 June 2014

The idea of hatching your own chickens may seem daunting - after all, is there a more strenuous and delicate act than bringing a newborn into the world?  Luckily with modern technology and a little help from mother nature, hatching chickens is something everyone can have a go at.  And not to mention one of the most rewarding!

With a hen, au natural

Hatching chickens by letting the hen do its natural thing is a less hands on approach for you and not as time consuming, therefore significantly easier.  However, managing the mother hens can sometimes be a turbulent experience!  In order for your hatching chickens to undergo the process naturally, you need to have fertilized eggs (which can be bought, or achieved naturally by introducing a rooster to your flock).

Chicken raising chicks in backyard

The easy bits:

  • the mother hen will take care of temperature control, humidity control and will turn the eggs herself. Essentially you just have to sit back and wait for hatching day.

  • There’s something nice about hatching chickens the natural way, and seeing a mother hen nurture her babies.

  • The mother hen can teach her unborn chicks common cheeps and peeps while they’re in the egg (chickens have a different tone for every situation).

The hard bits:

  • A broody hen is a moody hen!

  • Some hens may abandon the eggs before the hatching chickens break through the shell

  • There’s no real way to predict this behaviour until it happens

With an incubator - a little help from technology

An incubator is a device that essentially takes the place of the hen.  It regulates heat and humidity and automatically turns the eggs gently three times a day for you.  It does give you a lot more control over the process, but this of course means there’s a lot more to consider!  It is a rewarding way to hatch chickens though as you play a direct part, and get a front row seat to the action.

Chicken eggs in incubator with thermometer

The easy bits:

  • Having a fully equipped incubator means you don’t really have to do anything, other than keeping a close eye on the temperature and humidity gauges.

  • You can feel safe in the knowledge that the incubator will nurture the eggs to their full term - not like a chicken who may abandon the eggs.

The hard bits:

  • Sometimes equipment doesn’t work as it should - keep vigilant about ensuring that the incubator is functioning properly. Test it prior to starting the incubating process.

  • You have to find a room that has minimal temperature fluctuation - as this can greatly affect the temperature inside the incubator!

This is a brief overview of the hatching process just to give you a guide if you’re thinking about which option to choose, or whether to embark on hatching chickens.  The actual process of what happens during hatching is so complex that whole books have been written on it!

What method you choose is a matter of personal preferences, and in terms of difficulty both have easy and hard things about them.  After all, when you are hatching chickens, you’re creating new life!  There is one thing for certain - both are very rewarding experiences.

Sources and further reading