How Much Does It Cost Own A Chicken? Egg Cost Comparison

How Much Does It Cost Own A Chicken? Egg Cost Comparison

Many beginners wonder “How much does it cost to own a chicken?” And in this article, we’re going to talk specifics about how chicken keeping can effect your wallet.

 

Like many things in life, you can make chicken keeping as expensive or inexpensive as you want.

 

Now, just how much does it cost to own a chicken? It is important to take into account the kinds of things you’ll spend money on and the ongoing costs that come with having a backyard full of fluffy butts.

 

Here’s your “chicken cost calculator” guide!

 

How Much Does It Cost Own A Chicken?

For 5 chickens:

  • Regular feed typically costs about $30 per month, non-GMO feed about $150 per month
  • A coop can cost from $1 to $2,000
  • Bedding costs about $20 per month
  • Feeders & waterers cost about $5 each
  • Baby chicks cost about $5, adult chickens cost $1 to $30 on average

 

You can read more about the bedding I recommend here.

How Much Does It Cost To Buy A Chicken?

Buying a baby chicken can cost anything from a few cents to hundreds of dollars (for purebred breeding-quality chickens). On average, though baby chicks should cost less than $5 for most chicken breeds. The specific cost depends on a variety of factors, such as the sex of the chicken (females usually cost more than males), how rare the breed is (rare breeds cost more), and if it is a hybrid chicken (like an Easter Egger). Started pullets, which are young female chickens that are about 4 weeks old,, cost on average $15 to $25 each. Laying hens can cost anywhere from $10 (for mixed breeds) to $100 (purebred from a hatchery). Certain breeds, like the all black chicken Ayam Cemani, can cost up to $5,000!

 

  • Baby chicks: Starting at $1, averaging about $5
  • Started pullets (4 weeks – 16 weeks): About $15 – $25
  • Laying Hens: About $10 to $100, depending on breed

 

Here’s where to buy baby chicks and started pullets. If you only want female chickens (pullets), then learn how to sex baby chicks here. Layers are easiest to buy in your local area.

How Much Does A Pullet Cost?

It depends on the breed, but started pullets are on average around $15 to $25, although this amount varies by location. If you purchase one from a hatchery, you will also need to pay shipping. It’s typically best to buy a started pullet in your local area.

 

How Do You Get Chickens In Your Backyard?

To start raising chickens in your backyard, first make sure you can have chickens! Otherwise, you might have a nasty surprise visit from your city/town officials, and, heartbreakingly, you might have to re-home your flock. If you’re sure it’s okay to have chickens, you will need to make sure all their basic necessities such as the coop (or brooder, if they’re chicks), feed, water, and etc are covered. You can learn more about what backyard chickens need here.  You can also find out where to buy baby chicks here.

 

If you want to hatch chicks from eggs (you can get eggs from a local dealer – just make sure the flock has a rooster), you’ll need an incubator, You can read about the best incubators I recommend here, and my favorite incubator here.

 

Where Can I Buy Egg Laying Chickens?

You can buy egg laying chickens at a hatchery, your local farm store (like Tractor Supply, Orschelns, Southern States, or Rural King, depending on your region), or from a local breeder. To find a local breeder, it’s best to ask at farm stores in your area, or look on Facebook for groups. If you want a specific breed, you can search Facebook for breeder groups. If you plan to use a hatchery, choose one near you – the chicks will be shipped overnight or 2 day priority. A hatchery close to you means the chicks will have less time in transit.

 

Here’s a list of recommended hatcheries that will ship chicks to you:

 

  • Cackle Hatchery (this is the hatchery I personally use)
  • Murray McMurray
  • Meyer Hatchery
  • Ideal Hatchery
  • My Pet Chicken
  • Stromberg’s Chicks
  • Freedom Ranger Hatchery

 

When purchasing chicks from a local farm store, be sure to note the welfare of the chicks – if they don’t look healthy, or their crates don’t look clean, DO NOT BUY!!

 

Feeding Chickens

How much does it cost to feed a chicken per month?

On average, it costs $0.15 to feed your chickens per day, with organic feed costing at around $0.60 per pound. For a flock of 5 chickens, you will likely spend less than $30 a month, if you feed a 16% layer feed found at local farm stores. For organic feed, you will spend more – about $150 per month. If you feed treats like black soldier fly larvae or mixed treats like BEE A Happy Hen (which is really popular), you need to factor those costs in as well. However, it doesn’t pay to be cheap – chickens are living creatures, and you will need to feed them well so they lay healthy eggs for you. I have a list of what chickens can eat here.

 

How much should I feed a chicken?

The amount to feed a chicken varies, however, on average, 1 chicken needs about ½ – 1 cup of feed daily. You can free feed your chickens (you can use one of the chicken feeders I recommend here) or put a meal out for them daily. Check their weight and general health frequently, and increase their feed if they need it. If you see them wasting a lot of feed, then decrease the amount you’re putting out for them (or use a no-waste chicken feeder).

 

Do chickens need herbal supplements?

While not strictly necessary, you can offer your flock herbal supplements (such as nesting herbs, or mixing herbs in their feed) to ensure that they will be at their optimum health – and a healthy immune system will protect them against common diseases. Remember that treating unhealthy chickens can impact your wallet and result in a lost flock member.

 

How much does a free range chicken cost?

If you plan to free range your chickens, you can save some money on their feed. However, it’s still advisable to feed them a 16% layer feed. For a flock of 5 chickens, you will likely spend less than $30 a month, if you feed a 16% layer feed found at local farm stores. If you want to feed your hens non-GMO feed, it typically costs about $150 per month. If you feed treats like black soldier fly larvae or mixed treats like PowerHen, you need to factor those costs in as well. If you want your chickens to lay eggs for you, then you’ll need to feed them well. Free range chickens might not get all the nutrients they need, or they might eat stuff that effects the nutritional value of their eggs. I have a list of what chickens can eat here. You can find a list of alternative feeds for chickens here, if you really don’t want to purchase chicken feed.

 

Buying Eggs vs. Keeping Chickens

Is it cheaper to have chickens or buy eggs?

If you simply want to save money, it’s cheapest to buy your eggs from a grocery store or allow your own flock to free range permanently. However, there’s other issues with both of those options. For starters, the industrial egg industry, being concerned with profits, typically does not provide their chickens with healthy, happy lives and there’s multiple animal welfare issues. Many of these chickens are killed or otherwise disposed of after 12 – 18 months. They’re usually confined to cages or very crowded living conditions. In some cases, they’re given antibiotics continuously, which does show up in their eggs. The quality of the eggs is poor. If you’re conscious of your food sources, or an animal lover, consider raising chickens yourself or getting your eggs from a local supplier, where you can be sure the animals are treated with respect.

 

Chickens that free range permanently tend to have happier lives than chickens that are kept by the egg industry. However, they tend to hide their eggs (which defeats the purpose of raising them for eggs), or stop laying eggs altogether. They might also become flighty, since they have to fend for themselves (since free range chickens aren’t typically provided secure coops and runs) against chicken predators.

 

Another option is to allow your chickens to feed off your compost pile, develop a mealworm breeding farm, or raise black soldier fly larvae (which can also feed off your compost pile). During spring, summer, and fall months, you can provide some type of free feed to your hens (through your compost pile) but the nutritional value of your eggs isn’t guaranteed, nor is the health of your flock.

 

Remember that once you have an established flock, keeping chickens is a relatively low cost because unlike other pets you can greatly profit from them since they produce food for you.

 

How many eggs does a chicken lay a day?

Chickens lay only one egg per day (unless they’ve laid an egg inside an egg – then technically, they’ve laid two. You can read more about abnormal eggs here.) Remember that there will be some days where they won’t lay eggs at all since a hen’s body take 24 – 26 hours to fully form one egg.

 

Chicken Coop Costs

How much does a chicken coop cost?

The chicken coop cost is typically around $200 to $2000 if you buy them from Amazon or another store.  You can build your own chicken coop for around $100 or less (for a very simple structure) or, if you can find pallets, you can build it for the cost of nails. You can find 55+ free chicken coop plans here and a list of free pallet barn plans here. You can also find a list of what your coop should include here. You can find reviews of different chicken wire options here.

 

These are the coops on Amazon that we recommend:

 

Is it cheaper to buy a coop or build one?

It depends primarily on the materials you use and the features your coop will have. Many low cost coops (around $200 – $300) are very cheap and will break after 1 or 2 years, regardless of what the manufacturer promises. In the long run, it’s cheaper to invest in a good coop or garden shed (that can be converted into a coop) or to build a coop yourself with good quality materials.

 

Remember that if you purchase a garden shed and convert it into a coop, you can always convert it back into a garden shed if you decide chickens aren’t for you – so this makes buying a good quality building worth the investment and it might increase your property value.

 

Keeping Chickens For Beginners

What are the best chickens for beginners?

Here’s a list of champion egg laying chicken breeds:

  • Cochins
  • Delaware
  • Easter Eggers
  • Jersey Giants
  • Marans
  • Rhode Island Reds

 

You can also read about more chicken breeds here.

 

Cochins

Cochins are a lot of fun to own because they’re hardy, lay brown eggs consistently, and enjoy human company. You can get a full-sized cochin or the bantam variety – and both have feathered feet! The bantams will eat less but will also lay smaller eggs. You can read about cochin chickens here.

Delaware

Delawares are excellent laying chickens that can produce up to 5 brown eggs per week. They’re cold hardy, distinctive looking, and friendly.

 

Easter Eggers

Great for beginners because they lay consistently of about 250 eggs per year – and you might even get blue eggs! (Or green, or pink…..it just depends on the genetics of the individual hen.) You can read more about Easter Eggers here and other blue egg laying breeds here. If you definitely want blue eggs, you can learn about Ameraucanas here and Araucanas here.

 

Jersey Giants

Jersey Giants are a heritage chicken breed, and also one of the largest purebred chickens in the United States. They’re great egg layers producing at around 200 eggs per year.

 

Marans

Marans are pretty quiet, disease-resistant, and are cold-hardy chickens that don’t require a lot of work. The hens lay chocolate-colored eggs (although how dark they are will depend on the individual chicken). They’re great layers producing approximately 250 per year.

 

Rhode Island Reds

Rhode Island Reds are another heritage chicken breed that’s pretty popular. They require little care (except for food, water, a clean coop, and vet care), but lay large brown eggs 4-5 times a week.

 

Is it hard to raise chickens for eggs?

No, but like any other pet, you need to ensure they’re safe, have access to food and water, and a clean home. They’re easier than dogs or cats because they can feed and water themselves (as long as you use a gravity feeder or a DIY chicken waterer that allows them to free-feed). And unlike dogs or cats, they don’t need to be let in and out of the house constantly.

 

It you’re concerned about the work, it’s best to start with 3 hens, and a small coop. You can always expand and build a bigger coop later. Chickens will produce eggs if they feel they are protected and are in a healthy and spacious environment. As long as you provide this, they should prove no trouble to raise for eggs.

 

Selling Chickens & Eggs for Profit

How much is a live chicken worth?

A live chicken will on average cost around $3 to $30 depending on the breed and age of the chicken. Here’s some general guidelines:

 

  • Baby chicks: Starting at $1, averaging about $5
  • Started pullets (4 weeks – 16 weeks): About $15 – $25
  • Laying Hens: About $10 to $100, depending on breed

 

How much is a full grown chicken worth?

A full grown chicken can cost at around $1 to $5,000 depending on the breed and sex of the bird. Barnyard mixes (chickens of unknown lineage) can cost $1 while prized breeds like Ayam Cemani can cost $5,000. Age is also a factor: hens that come from the egg laying industry might be 12 months old, but cost $1. Older hens might be less (or even free), while chicks that are 6 months old (so, just starting to lay eggs) might cost more because they have a lot of egg laying year left. So, best to do your research first in locking down your ideal bird, then calculate how much does it cost to own a chicken for your area.

 

Can I make money from eggs?

POssibly. This will depend on a variety of factors, including how much it costs to raise your chickens, what your chickens eat, and how much people will pay for eggs in your area. If you only sell a dozen eggs for $1, then it’s harder to turn a profit. But if you sell your eggs for $6 a dozen, then you’ll make money, as long as your chickens cost less than $6 to feed. It’s best to write a detailed spreadsheet of expenses, then base your cost per dozen eggs off that.

 

How much are baby chicks worth?

The average baby chick sells for $5, depending on the breed. Purebred and unusual breeds will sell for more (maybe $7 – $10), while mixed breeds will sell for $1 or $2. Chicks over 1 week typically sell for less, also (since farm stores don’t want to keep them longer than 1 – 2 weeks). If you’re planning to hatch eggs yourself, then you will want to sell the chicks “straight run,” and tell buyers you aren’t sure whether the chicks are hens or roosters. You’ll need to decide whether you’ll sell purebred or a hybrid chicken. Cost of a baby chick varies based on these factors.

 

Can I sell chicken feathers?

Yes, you can sell chicken feathers – there are even special birds bred for their feathers. Many chicken owners sell feathers on Ebay or Etsy. Feathers are usually sold by the pound.

 

Do you still wonder “How much does it cost to own a chicken?” Do you think chicken-keeping is for you?

Best Incubator: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Best Incubator: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

On our farm we’ve hatched a lot of eggs, and now know the best incubator will track both the temperature and humidity. But that’s not all there is to discovering the perfect incubator to hatch chicks. There are various types of chicken egg incubators for sale out there that range from basic to fully automatic.

 

Choosing the best incubator for your particular situation and budget is an important step to ensure a successful hatch.

 

In this article, you’ll learn about the available products on the market, and possibly discover the best incubator for your flock. You’ll also find basic tips to successfully hatch tiny quail eggs to chicken eggs to large goose and duck eggs.

 

What’s the best incubator to buy?

These are our choices for the best incubators for small, medium and large hatch sizes:

Best incubator for chicken eggs rated by size

Small – as a beginner, it’s worth starting with smaller units. They’re budget friendly and hatch just a few eggs. Nothing is worse than an unsuccessful hatch where you need to throw out 50+ half-developed chicken eggs. When starting, most people only need a single small incubator which holds 7 eggs. This is our pick: Brinsea Mini Advance Hatching Egg Incubator (this is a Brinsea manual egg incubator)

 

You can also check the customer comments for an honest 7 egg incubator review of this Brinsea product sold on Amazon.

 

Medium – as you scale up and improve you can move onto more complicated bigger units like ones that can hold 50+ eggs. You’ll also want a dedicated digital thermometer and humidity reader, along with an automatic egg turner.

 

This is our pick:

 

You can read our Brinsea Ovation 56 ex review here.

 

Large – if you’re ready to scale up and start hatching backyard chicken eggs to sell chicks professionally (or just want a really, really big flock), then large systems that can hold 400 or more eggs are ideal.

 

This is our pick for the best cabinet incubator

 

Best fully automatic egg incubator

For your egg incubator 2019 options, we’ve listed the best options below.

 

Runners up (You can buy these incubators on Amazon, Tractor Supply, or sometimes at Walmart):

 

Best Incubator For Goose Eggs

Goose eggs can be large, so the cups must hold the eggs securely and safely. Similarly, it also must have enough room for the goslings (which can be quite large) so they won’t be burnt by the heating element. If you’re using a forced air incubator, you need to make sure there’s enough clearance around the fan, as well.

 

Best Incubator For Quail Eggs

Since these eggs are so tiny, the best incubator for quail eggs must include turners that safely turn the eggs, as well as safety features so the chicks don’t get caught in the heating element or a forced-air fan if you’re using one.

 

Best Duck Egg Incubator

Ducks can be fairly large, and so to accommodate this, the best duck egg incubator should have cups that hold the eggs securely and safely.

 

Where can I buy an incubator?

If you’re looking for a chicken incubator for sale, you have quite a few options. Our favorite places to buy them are Tractor Supply, Amazon, and Walmart (although Amazon gives the best and most reliable selection).

 

How much does egg incubator cost?

You can pay anything from $50 to several thousand dollars – it just depends on the make, model, and how many bells and whistles the incubator has. A fully automatic incubator that’ll hatch 50 eggs costs approximately $500. If you want to professionally hatch eggs, you’ll probably pay $2,000 – $3,000.

 

A starter egg incubator price can range from $50 to a couple hundred, but that’s for a very basic styrofoam model that doesn’t include any automatic turners or forced air elements. If you don’t mind manually turning the chicken eggs yourself 3 to 5 times a day, then these budget incubators might be for you.

 

While pretty inexpensive, the downside to these incubators is that the temperature can fluctuate quickly. You’ll need a digital thermometer and humidity reader, and you’ll have to keep an eye on it.

 

That being said, we’ve had successes in hatching chicken using this type of incubator and we recommend using a Little Giant incubator.

 

We’ve also used a $500 incubator that’s fully automatic with a forced air fan.

 

It was much easier to use since it’s basically a “set and forget it” incubator with a digital thermometer that automatically tracked the temperature.

 

If the temp inside the incubator got too hot or cold, it corrected itself. For us, this is the best incubator because we don’t need to worry about whether the conditions are optimal for our hatch.

 

If you want to be a professional and hatch chickens for a living, then investing in a large scale incubator – which could set you back $2,000 or more – would work best. Take note that you would need an NPIP certification if you want to ship chicks in the mail commercially.

 

How does an incubator work?

An egg incubator allows humans to artificially hatch fertilized eggs, usually chicken eggs, by eliminating the external factors that might damage the eggs and prevent it from hatching. It mimics the conditions under a broody hen including ideal temperature, humidity,  and ventilation levels. For chicken eggs, this means the ambient temperature inside the incubator will be between 99.5 and 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Also, the incubator, kind of like the bloom, protects eggs from spoilage and damage, which is not very easy to control in nature.

 

How do you incubate eggs?

We’ve created a step by step guide on how you can successfully hatch chicken eggs here. If you’re incubating chicken eggs, they’ll take approximately 21 days to hatch. Duck eggs (except Muscovy ducks) need approximately 28 days to hatch. Muscovy duck eggs require 35 days of incubation. For Quail eggs it also varies by breed, the Coturnix quail eggs need 17 days to hatch, while the Bobwhite quail need about 24 days.

 

It’s best to choose eggs that are fresh – and be sure to NOT choose abnormal eggs because they’re less likely to hatch. Once the chicks are born, you’ll need a waterer, chicken feeder (no waste is best), and brooder to keep them warm.

 

How warm should an egg incubator be?

The temperature will largely depend on what kinds of eggs you will be incubating. For most domestic poultry, including chicken, duck, goose, or quail eggs, the best egg incubator temperature is between 99.5 degrees F and 101 degrees F. Any warmer or colder, and your eggs might not hatch.

 

Is it necessary to have an automatic turner?

Having an automatic turner is not necessary, but it is preferred by the best incubator experts and makes life easier. Without it, you’ll need to manually turn the eggs. Be sure that the automatic turner can be removed since it’s not needed for the last few days of egg incubation. You’ll also want to clean and sterilize the turners when your hatch is complete.

 

When choosing an incubator, the best incubators have turning cups that can accommodate all egg sizes, from tiny quail eggs to goose eggs (which can be quite large).


Is a forced air incubator necessary?

Forced air is not necessary, but it makes maintaining a consistent and ideal temperature much easier which is crucial for successful hatching. The best incubators on the market all used forced air.

 

We think this is the best incubator in the market that doesn’t used forced air, and it’s one of the best startup incubators if you’re brand new to hatching eggs.

 

One of my favorite Little Giant Incubator tips is to put a digital thermometer that also tracks humidity inside, right next to your eggs. You’ll easily be able to track the temperature and humidity!

 

Whether you choose a budget incubator or a professional one that costs thousands, remember that the best incubator is the one that fits your life and lets you hatch chicken eggs successfully!




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Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator Product Review

Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator Product Review

*** For this review, the folks at Brinsea sent us their Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator with fully automatic egg turner and digital temperature and humidity control test run.

Although we received the incubator for free, all the opinions in this article are true and accurate, and represent our own opinions. ***

 

What we reviewed

Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator with fully automatic egg turner and digital temperature and humidity control. Cost: $469.99 on Amazon (Buy here) or (accurate at time of print) $449.99 on Brinsea’s website here.

 Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator fully digital for backyard chickens

 Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator fully digital for backyard chickens egg cups

Description

The Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator with fully automatic egg turner and digital temperature and humidity control is an electric egg incubator with an automatic turning element and forced air heating element.

 

There are 8 egg holders that can accommodate all species of domestic poultry eggs.

 

There are also areas for water to maintain the humidity levels. The temperature and humidity are digitally displayed on the top of the incubator.

 

The Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator comes with a manual that explains how to use it and how to set it up.

 

According to the Brinsea website:

 

“The Ovation 56 Advance is a sophisticated, high performance incubator ideal for a wide range of species and applications. The high accuracy digital readout of humidity and comprehensive alarms help ensure high hatch rates.

A simple and highly accurate menu driven digital control system gives:

  • Digital display of temperature and humidity
  • Automatic temperature control in °F or °C fully factory calibrated
  • High and low incubator and room temperature alarms
  • Programmable automatic egg turning
  • Periodic Egg Cooling feature
  • Fan assisted air flow with Induced Dual Airflow system
  • Ventilation control
  • Good visibility of the eggs
  • Robust hygienic ABS construction with Biomaster™antimicrobial plastics
  • 56 hen eggs capacity with standard egg carriers provided but suitable for a wide range of egg sizes (optional small/large egg carriers)
  • Easy water top-up with level indicator
  • 3-year warranty”

Our experience

Let’s just say that we gave the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator a real run for its money, and it came through with gold stars.

 

We tested it twice, both with duck and chicken eggs (mostly from my brahma chickens). We had to try it twice because on the 18th day of our first test run with 30 chicken and duck eggs, the cat knocked over the incubator and cracked every single egg.

 

Despite this error on our part, our experience with the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator was overwhelmingly positive.

 

The first test run of the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator

Setting up the incubator was easy, although I did have to consult the manual to make sure all the settings were accurate. The manual is well written and easy to follow.

 

I selected 30 duck eggs and enough chicken eggs to fill up all the cups.

 

Days 1 – 10 went uneventfully, and I appreciated how easy the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator is to use.

 

On Day 10, we pulled out the eggs that did not develop or were never fertile, and left the remainder to incubate. Out of 30 eggs, we pulled out less than 5. In any hatch, some eggs won’t develop, and it’s not a reflection of the incubator.

 

Before the incubator crash, we candled all the remaining eggs on Day 18, and they appeared to have embryos developed enough to hatch.

 

After the crash on Day 18, we had 5 chicks hatch immediately, and they were all healthy, and have lived to tell the tale. We lost the rest of the hatch, but it was no fault of the incubator.

 

The incubator itself was unharmed, which is a testament to its craftsmanship.

 

The second test run

The second time, we tested the incubator with 15 duck and about 20 chicken eggs. All went as planned, and we loved that we didn’t need to worry about the temperature levels, and adding more water to maintain the humidity was easy.

 

The temperature stayed a constant 99.6 degrees F throughout the entire incubation period, except when we replaced the water in the humidity trays. When the temperature dipped a few decimal places because of the water, the incubator returned to 99.6 degrees quickly.

 

When we removed the top of the incubator to candle, again, the temperature returned to 99.6 quickly. Candling the eggs was easy, although I had to be careful to grasp the eggs tightly to remove them from the turning element safely.

 

We kept the humidity at 55%, and removed the chicken eggs from the turning element on Day 18.  The duck eggs remained in the egg cups, which protected them when the hatched chicks rolled around to get their bearings.

 

On Days 18 – 21, all the chicks hatched, and are healthy and now happily running around our farm. Because of the automatic turner, we didn’t have to open the incubator at all while the chicks hatched to turn the duck eggs, allowing us to incubate both types of eggs simultaneously.

 

The duck eggs remained in the cups until Day 28.

 

We removed some duck eggs before the final 3 incubation days (the eggs were never were fertile) and all of the remaining duck eggs hatched on Day 28 and Day 29. We now have 10 healthy ducklings.

ducklings try swimming for the first time

The Good

This incubator is very easy to use, and is as close to set and forget as you can get with an incubator, at least until it’s time to remove the eggs from the turning element to hatch.

 

The temperature stayed the same the entire time, and the humidity was consistent as long as the water level was constant.

 

The egg cups that are part of the turning element are easy to use, and accommodates our very large Pekin duck eggs well. For goose eggs, the manual recommends laying the eggs on their sides, which we had to do with a couple Pekin eggs.

 

We noticed that the incubator did not draw a lot of energy, even though it maintained 99.6 degrees for well into 2 months, so it seems to be quite energy efficient.

 

Some key points about the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator

This isn’t bad per se, but more of a piece of advice: Consult the manual carefully and keep it handy when setting up the egg cups and automatic turner.

 

In the confusion of the day 18 crash on our first test run, we panicked to get all the eggs back in the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator as quickly as possible to avoid shrink wrapping.

 

I had to consult the manual to figure out how to place the egg cups so they lined up with the automatic turning element because I completely forgot how they fit together, and it wasn’t 100% intuitive in the heat of the moment.

 

If not set up correctly, you run the risk of the eggs falling out of the cups, which is initially what happened when I tried setting up the incubator for the 2nd test run. The eggs were unharmed, but it’s best to keep the manual on hand.

 

Some other points:

The timer for the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator automatic turning element is set to go off every 45 minutes by default, so be sure to consult the manual to select an interval that works for you. We set it to turn the eggs every 2 hours.

 

We couldn’t figure out how to turn the beeping off completely for the timer, and it kept my husband up at night, but it didn’t bother me. If you’re a light sleeper, take this into consideration when deciding on a location for your incubator. Because we have special needs children and cats who get into things they shouldn’t, we kept ours in the bedroom where we could keep an eye on it.

 

[UPDATE: Brinsea contacted me after this review posted, and let me know how to turn off the beeping sound:

 

  • Press all 3 buttons simultaneously to unlock the calibration menu
  • CAL TEMP
  • OK < >  will show on the screen
  • Keep pressing the OK button until you see TURN ALM
  • Press the OK button
  • The screen will now show
  • T ALM: 1
  • OK 0 1
  • Press the – button to select 0 (off)
  • Keep pressing the OK button until you save and exit.]

 

The heating element on top of the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator isn’t easily removable, so it made it difficult to completely clean it between hatches.

 

When I emailed my contact at Brinsea for help, I was promised a reply with the information, but didn’t hear back with instructions for cleaning around the heating element.

 

[UPDATE: After this review posted, I did hear back from Brinsea about the cleaning instructions, and you can view them here. They are easy to follow, so print them out and keep them handy. Their customer service was friendly and very interested in helping us solve the cleaning riddle.]

 

Overall Experience

GREAT – I love this incubator, and had great hatch rates. The fact that we got 5 healthy, beautiful chicks after the crash speaks to the quality of the product. I haven’t lost a single chick or duckling that hatched, and they’re all healthy.

 

While a bit pricey for beginning chicken and duck keepers, the peace of mind and craftsmanship is well worth it if you plan to incubate eggs frequently.

 

I plan to use the Brinsea Ovation 56 Advance Incubator again and again, and it’s my prime recommendation for a mid-priced chicken egg incubator.

Store Chicken Hatching Eggs Like A Pro + Top 3 Mistakes You Need To Avoid

Store Chicken Hatching Eggs Like A Pro + Top 3 Mistakes You Need To Avoid

If you have hens and roosters, chances are you’re wondering how to store chicken hatching eggs so you can raise your own chickens.

 

At least, that was the first question I asked myself as soon as I realized I would have fertile eggs for hatching.

 

(Looking for an incubator recommendation? Here’s my favorite!)

 

The first time we hatched chicks on our homestead, it was a great day – we could increase our flock (and our food supply), develop our own line of healthy hens, and watch as the chicks grew into healthy adults. Fun!

 

I’m sure you will want to start incubating your own chicken eggs also – and it starts with storing them properly.

 

In this article, I’m going to show you how to store your chicken eggs so they’re in the best shape possible for incubation – yes, how you store the eggs does impact whether they are likely to hatch or not.

 

If you want to learn how to hatch chicken eggs, I have a detailed article on that here. And I’m going to assume you have both hens and roosters – without the rooster, your chicken eggs won’t be fertile.

 

Before we get started, though, there’s a couple things to keep in mind:

 

Tip #1: Avoid washing the chicken eggs

As you probably know, when eggs are laid, they have something called the “bloom” on them. This extra layer keeps bacteria and other nasties out of the egg, protecting the precious oocyte from harm.

 

It’s important to not wash your hatching eggs – you’ll remove the bloom, and potentially expose the chick embryo to bacteria, crushing your hopes of hearing peeping and getting to watch them zip into life.

 

Tip #2: Stay away from eggs that have abnormal shapes

Abnormally-shaped eggs are good for eating in most cases (there are some exceptions like lash eggs), but they won’t really give you a good result when it comes to hatching.

 

Excessively big eggs might contain double yolks (these rarely hatch because there’s not enough room in the shell for both embryos in most cases) or even another whole egg.

 

Chicken eggs with a lumpy shell might not have a big enough air sac or an air sac that’s too large. Bottom line: You only want to incubate eggs that are a regular egg shape.

 

Tip #3: Stay away from cracked eggs.

Yes, you can glue a crack back together, and it might hatch. But make things easy on yourself – only incubate uncracked eggs.

 

Storing fertile eggs

Start by collecting eggs no more than 10 days before the incubation process (the fresher, the better), and keep them out of an area that’s too hot or too cool (room temperature is best) and away from the sun. The last thing you want is too much heat to kick start the incubation process.

 

If you live in a hot area (for example, if it’s over 100 degrees every day in the summer), you’ll want to collect your eggs frequently.

 

I’ve had readers send me photos of eggs they had left in their coop for too many days – and indeed, the embryos in the eggs had started to develop. It’s gross, and you don’t want to deal with that.

 

Store chicken hatching eggs

 

Another common question I get is “how long can eggs sit out before incubating?” I personally don’t incubate eggs that are older than 10 days, and I prefer eggs that are no older than 7 days.

 

Keep eggs in cartons – pointy side down

Keep your chicken hatching eggs in cartons like these (or like this if you want a reuseable one) to keep them safe and clean, and be sure to store them with the pointed end down. This will protect the air sac and make sure the yolk stays where it should, which is critical for your chicken embryos to grow into chicks.

Store Chicken Hatching Eggs Like A Pro With These Tips!

 

Turn your eggs consistently

This is to prevent the embryo from sticking to the internal membrane. Hens turn their eggs seveal gimes a day; you can do it 2-3, and just be sure to do it gently.

 

That’s pretty much the skinny on storing chicken eggs for hatching!

I’d like to hear from you!

How do you store chicken hatching eggs? What are your best tips? Leave a comment below!

How to Hatch Chicken Eggs (Even Without Incubators)

How to Hatch Chicken Eggs (Even Without Incubators)

Fluffy chicks are the best and learning how to hatch chicken eggs (and hatch eggs at home without an incubator) is a ton of fun!

 

Letting Mother Nature (who knows how to incubate chicken eggs perfectly) do her thing is always best, but if your hens aren’t broody (wanting to sit on eggs) or if you want to maintain a precise environment for your hatching eggs, incubating them is a good option.

 

If you want to know how to hatch chicken eggs without an incubator, we’ll cover that, too.


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wpid-img1046.jpgFirst things first. It usually takes 21 days for a chicken egg to fully incubate. A day is the full 24 hours after you put the egg in the incubator, so I write the next day’s date on the egg to remind myself what day I started incubating. So, if I put eggs in the incubator on January 18, I write 1/19 on the egg. I tend to see external pipping (when the chick starts to break the egg) on day 19, but it can take up to 28 days in some cases. (Full disclosure: I’ve never personally had an egg take that long to hatch but it reportedly happens on occasion). I use a Little Giant Still Air incubator that I bought locally for about $50. I’ve had a good hatch rate with it, it’s easy to figure out, and it’s a great starter incubator. It’s important to run it for 24 hours before you put eggs in to ensure the temperature is correct and stays steady.

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These eggs were fresh and were fertile.

1. Choosing eggs to incubate. Don’t incubate eggs older than 10 days, and eggs no older than 7 days are best. If you come across a bunch of eggs you’re not sure about, and want a test, put the egg gently in water and do an egg float test.

If you’re saving eggs for a few days before putting them in the incubator, store them at room temperature. I use an old egg carton, and I store them pointy side down. This is to protect the air bubble at the fat end. More on that later.

Do not refrigerate them. (note: if it’s winter, the sooner you gather the eggs the better, but if they’re cold for a couple hours, it’s ok. Bring them back to room temp before incubating). Put only unbroken eggs in your incubator.

You can make sure they don’t have any cracks by candling them before you put them in the incubator. (If you’re wondering how to hatch eggs from the grocery store, you can’t because they’re not fertile. If you don’t have any chickens, or if you don’t have a rooster, you can check out Craigslist and see if anyone’s selling hatching eggs near you).

(Hint: Keep small hands away from the incubator! While this might seem intuitive, if you’re an obsessive temperature and humidity checker like me, you can inadvertently place the incubator in a place where children can get inside. And you might just find an omelette on your floor. Not fun for anyone (ok maybe for your kids).

2. Maintain a temperature between 100°-102° with a still air incubator and 99-99.5 with a forced air incubator. Your goal is to keep the temperature inside the egg as close to 99.5° as possible. Since you can’t actually take the temperature inside the egg, the best you can do is maintain a slightly higher temp outside the egg.

I’ll admit it. Occasionally I’ve let the incubator get too hot, especially when I was first starting out. It got as high as 113° one day while I was out running errands, and I swore I killed all the chicks. I had an 80% hatch rate, which means I’m either incredibly lucky or small, short changes in temperature do not necessarily mean disaster. By all means, keep your temperature between 100°-102°, but if the worse happens, don’t panic and assume all is lost.

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Busy chicks in their brooder, checking things out.

3. Keep your humidity between 40-50% days 1-18, then increase to 50%-60% on days 18-21. Humidity is important, especially in the last days of incubation. If the humidity is too low, you run the chance of your chicks getting “shrink-wrapped”, and unable to break out of the egg. The last thing anyone wants is to get super excited for hatch day, only to have fewer eggs hatch because the chicks died. I keep a digital thermometer in the incubator that measures both temperature and humidity. It’s been a lifesaver (literally) and it keeps me from guessing. I try to adjust the temperature by opening and closing the vents instead of turning the dial. It’s a slower and less dramatic change.

4. Turn your eggs at least 3 times a day from days 1-18, then don’t turn them at all on days 18-21. Turning your eggs an odd number of times each day is important for embryo development. In nature, a hen turns her eggs constantly. Don’t turn your eggs after day 18 – let the chick orient itself to break the shell and hatch. Remember the air bubble I mentioned? When the chick is being born, it “pips” (breaks) into that air bubble, then pips into the external world. To help the chick hatch, keep the incubator shut (we call this time “lockdown”) and don’t open it unless necessary.

5. Candle your eggs starting on day 7. If you have darker eggs, you might have to wait until day 10, but you definitely want to candle them at some point. Candling an egg just means looking at the inside by shining a light through the egg. You should see veins and eventually a chick moving in there (which is the coolest thing ever, aside from seeing a human in the womb). If by day 10, you only see the yolk (looks like a shadow and the rest of the egg clear), then the egg either wasn’t fertile or the embryo never developed. Eggs that don’t develop need to be removed.

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A new chick just born! The light keeps him from getting cold.

6. Once they’re born, move the chicks to the brooder. Congrats! You made it to day 21, and now you have baby chicks. You can leave chicks in the incubator up to 3 days. When you move them to the brooder (I do it the day after they’re born, once they can stand and walk ok), make sure your brooder is at least 95° but not too hot or the chicks will overheat (you’ll know if they start panting). I usually keep mine 95° – 100°.

Newborn chicks have a harder time regulating their own temperature, so I keep a thermometer in the brooder too. I use straw in my brooder because we have it on hand. Some people use wood chips; if you use wood chips, use larger ones so the chicks don’t try to eat the finer shavings.

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I gave these chicks a probiotic the same day they were born, and they’ve grown up very healthy.

7. Give your chicks a probiotic in their water. I used to think probiotics were a useless trend, but after losing some newborn chicks inexplicably, I gave them a try on a friend’s recommendation, and every one since (knock on wood) has been very healthy. All you do is add it to their water, and I heavily recommend them. The probiotics help establish good gut flora and aid in helping the chicks poop correctly, and avoid pasty butt (pasty butt is when a chick’s feces dry and cover their vent, and they’re no longer able to poop correctly). Pasty butt is a #1 killer of newborn chicks.

What if you’re off-grid? If you’re interested in how to incubate chicken eggs with a heat lamp, or how to hatch eggs at home without an incubator, or how to incubate chicken eggs without electricity, for example if you’re off-grid, as long as the temperature in the incubator is at these levels, you’re doing ok. Make sure whatever you’re using as an incubator is able to consistently maintain these temperatures. Newspaper makes a good insulator, as do styrofoam ice coolers (that you buy at the grocery store). The styrofoam will be less of a fire hazard and easier to maintain the temperature. You will also need a cover for your homemade incubator, as well as a way to turn the eggs easily without disrupting the temperature or humidity.

You can always let the hen incubate the eggs for you if you’re off grid. Silkies are a good choice, since the breed tends to go broody.

If you want to improve the quality of your chicken eggs for hatching, give the girls a calcium supplement, such as crushed egg shells (mine go NUTS for these) or oyster shells. The added calcium increases the strength of the shells.

Hatching eggs really is that easy! If all your eggs don’t hatch, don’t worry. A 80% hatch rate is normal, and if your first hatch yields a 50% hatch rate, you’re doing great! Have fun, watching the chicks grow up is a blast!

Want to see a chick being born? Check out my video! http://youtu.be/dg5nXWU0n9k