I am so excited to say that I am incubating chicken eggs! I have wanted to raise chickens for a number of years now, but it not allowed in our neighborhood HOA. However, I can hatch eggs inside my home and keep the chickens in a brooder until they are old enough to go outside and be integrated into a flock (3-4 weeks old). This means, if all goes well we should have a handful of chicks in about 21 days, which we will keep for a few weeks. I will then pass them along to my friend Becky (from my Moms of Multiples club) who just built a backyard coop.
So how did I even get started with this chicken project? My friend Sara E. (who I also know from my Moms of Multiples club) recently posted her egg hatching experience on Facebook. I became obsessed with researching incubation after I followed her experience. A good mini incubator can be pricey (over $200 for the Brinsea mini). Brinsea Mini Egg Incubator on Amazon.
Thank you Sara for helping me obtain one to borrow for this incubation! It is the fancy Brinsea Mini, which hold 7 regular size chicken eggs or up to 12 mini eggs. It is a self turning incubator, so it turns the eggs according to the schedule you set on the monitor. It also keeps the temp regulated (which needs to be about 99.5 for chicken eggs). The Brinsea has an alarm in case the temperature raises or drops below your desired temperature range.
Here is the Brinsea getting set up in my master bathroom, because isn’t that where everyone hatches their chicken eggs?
There are plenty of places online to order chicken eggs. I really wanted to do silkies, which are the fluffy, exotic looking birds. However, I needed to choose a bird that someone (like Becky) would want. Being a good egg layer is usually the most important thing to backyard chicken owners. Thanks to Dunham Farms http://www.thedunhamfarm.com I will be incubating Rhode Island Reds (awesome egg layers). I reached out to this amazing farm that breeds prize winning birds. They sell their birds locally in the Fort Worth area. Here is some info from their website:
They are know for the high quality of their birds which can actually be shown at competitions and fairs. Seriously, it is a big deal for people who are in the chicken world. Having quality birds is huge. It’s like dog breeding in some ways. There are good, bad, and the best. Dunham Farms falls in to the best category. I have to say they DO NOT sell eggs for incubation. They sell the birds/chickens. Which is exactly where I would go if I needed some chickens. They allowed me to get some of their eggs for a deal simply because I am doing this for educational reasons. Who am I educating? The world on the internet and you who are reading! And my kids of course! I will be posting about my experience as we go along. Again, if you were to do this at home you can use any of the multitude of online companies that will ship you fresh fertilized eggs right to your home for incubating. If you want chickens, then I suggest you check out Dunham Farms for their healthy, quality, egg producing chickens.
Here is some info on Road Island Reds from the Dunham Farm Website:
We started our incubation process last night. I had read the manual PDF for the Brinsea Mini online before I even had it in my possession. Some of the info was a bit confusing. After all, it is a manual, and manuals can be as clear as mud sometimes. I did some googling and found a wonderful resource for setting up the Brinsea Mini. It is a chicken website by chicken expert Cath Andrews http://www.raising-happy-chickens.com/incubating-equipment.html. I am so thankful for her site, as she even shows a video that walks you through the exact set up of the Brinsea Mini for hatching chickens. I followed her instructions.
We are set for 21 days of watching the eggs in my bathroom. The realistic hatch rate in an incubation for a novice like myself is 50%. I am hoping for 2-3 eggs to hatch. It depends on a variety of factors, including using the incubator properly, having eggs that are fertilized, temperature, humidity, and so much more. Now I understand the phrase “don’t count your chickens before they hatch!”.