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Chicken Incubators & Getting the Most Chicks from your Mailed or Shipped Hatching Eggs

Updated on May 25, 2011
Broody Lavender D'uccle with her day old chick
Broody Lavender D'uccle with her day old chick | Source
A Brinsea Octagon Incubator
A Brinsea Octagon Incubator

Why do you need an incubator?

Broody hens don't always cooperate and even when they do set, they don't lay eggs for approximately 10 weeks!

A chicken incubator hatches many more chicks a year. Perfect if you want to raise a few more heritage birds for meat. You can do things naturally also and let a broody hen sit on eggs later in the season and raise her own chicks in better weather.

Click below for the best prices on great incubators perfect for a back yard flock. Brinsea, GQF, and Reptibators with eggs turners too at

Here is a wide Selection of the Best Chicken Incubators at Great Prices

Two cute Partridge Penedesnca chicks destined to lay dark brown eggs
Two cute Partridge Penedesnca chicks destined to lay dark brown eggs | Source

Incubator purchase tips

The best and easiest to use incubators

  • Maintain constant temperature
  • Smooth easy to clean surfaces
  • Automated turner for less work
  • Big window to see chicks hatching
  • Have an automatic humidity control

None of these things are necessary, but will allow you way more freedom. You will not have to worry about forgetting vital tasks, giving you better hatch rates!

Beltsville Small White turkey just hatched and still in the Incubator
Beltsville Small White turkey just hatched and still in the Incubator | Source

Tips to get the Most Chicks from your shipped Hatching Eggs

Getting fertile hatching eggs in the mail can be risky but rewarding. It is the means to Rare Beautiful Heritage Breeds Chickens from the other side of the continent. We have saved eggs that never would have hatched by doing the things below.

The following is a list of things you can do to increase your hatch rates on shipped chicken and Turkey eggs. By candling on arrival you will know what special handling is needed, if any. It is generally considered 40% hatch is "good" for mailed eggs. Occasionally hatches can be 100% or 0%! Anything you can do to get more chicks from that dozen ferrilised chicken eggs is well worth it.

Shipped fertilised egg receiving checklist

1. Get them shipped as fast as possible/you can afford. Ideally when temperatures are moderate, despite the hatching addiction sometimes leading to spur of the moment decisions

2. Give your phone number to the shipper to put on the box so you can get the hatching eggs as soon as possible then the transporter can get a hold of you if there is a hitch

3. Candle them as soon as you get them-then you know if they need special treatment-you are looking for cracks, rolling loose or disrupted air sacs

4. Let them stabilize- sit in a flat egg carton, pointy end down, overnight, but 6 hours minimum, and allow them to come up to room temperature slowly before they go anywhere near the incubator.

5. Any with hairline cracks (shell only-no leaks) you can reseal the crack line with nail polish-a couple of coats, incubate as usual but don't wash. I won’t incubate any with cracks again. No embryos grew and a blowup will ruin a lot more eggs. If you want to save the cracked ones check those eggs daily and remove immediately if you notice a bad smell.

A Rare Heritage Blue Laced Red Wyandotte chick
A Rare Heritage Blue Laced Red Wyandotte chick | Source
Maradunna Euskal Oiloas Chicks an Extremely Friendly & Rare Spanish Chicken
Maradunna Euskal Oiloas Chicks an Extremely Friendly & Rare Spanish Chicken | Source

6. For rolling, detached or disrupted air cells (so cells no longer at fat end of the egg but like a spirit level bubble on the long side), you’ll need to change your hatch plan. They need to sit 24 hours always pointy end down, to see if the cells will reattach. Leave them in the egg carton for all 21 days of the hatch. Stop turning early at Day 16 not 18. I have hatched chicks from eggs with detached air sacs where the cells never stabilized even after 24 hours, but were left upright for hatch. Make sure any turning is gentle, and 45% or more vertical.

7. If you have to let them sit a few days before incubating, after the first 24 hours, gently tilt the cartons they are in 2 x per day and keep them around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, in a cool basement

8. I always quickly sanitize my eggs in warm water (100 degrees F) with a drop of bleach right before putting in my incubator, but do whatever you usually do. I don’t think it has any effect on hatch rate, but I feel more comfortable with clean eggs in the bator.

9. After that is just having that grip on your temp and humidity! I definitely recommend a Brinsea spot check thermometer, ours has definitely saved chick lives.
Good luck!

Two black Penedesenca Chicks on Black Penedesenca eggs
Two black Penedesenca Chicks on Black Penedesenca eggs | Source


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      As far as the law, different pcales have different laws. I wouldn't count on the city officials giving you the right answer either they have often told people it wasn't legal when in fact there was no law against it. Be aware that some subdivisions, etc. can have covenants against it too. If it were me, raising just a few, I'd build a movable pen for them with an open bottom. Do a google search for chicken ark or chicken tractor and you should get some ideas. If it's large, consider using wheels to move it, and be careful not to catch a chicken under the frame when you move it. It's a good way to offer a fresh plot to them on a regular basis. It keeps weeds out of your grass, fertilizes the grass, gives the chickens fresh spaces and helps prevent health problems for them from being in the same place, etc. Depending on how many in your family, and how often you like to eat eggs, most people find 2-5 chickens enough. Get good egg-layers, and pay extra to make sure they are pullets if you buy ******. Most cities DO have ordinances against roosters. (Even though many hens can be VERY noisy when they lay and want to cackle about it!)

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      your not suppost to see derdehatyd eggs. it looks like regular sand, and if you have some then freze them and put them in water. trust me.4 colonys of different morphs/ species of triops.

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 

      5 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      I have been hatching out my own eggs and raising my own chickens for years. I usually get my eggs either from my own chickens or from friends. I certainly learned a lot about getting eggs through the mail from this article. I think I will have to give mail order eggs a try just to see what it is like. Thanks, Skeffling!

    • Skeffling profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Wiarton, Ontario, Canada

      I hope it helps you. It is just what we have learned hatching our chicks, you learn more when things go wrong!!

      Have fun with your projects, hopefully each time will be better! It is all worth it for the chicks too!

    • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

      Emmanuel Kariuki 

      6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      2 out of 50 makes me feel lucky. Thanks for the link to your website - it is so informative I have bookmarked it for closer scrutiny.

    • Skeffling profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Wiarton, Ontario, Canada

      Thanks. Congratulations, the first hatch I did I got 2 chicks out of 50! This article is more for eggs that have had poor treatment in the mail, I have this page below on my website that has "how to hatch your own eggs".

      I read your article and left some ideas in the comments. I know just some of the link will help you, it may help with deciding which eggs to put in the incubator and how to store them til you are ready to hatch them. Good luck.

    • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

      Emmanuel Kariuki 

      6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Great info. I will read this slowly again.

      See my effort in this hub -Home-made Egg Incubator - and advice me on how to improve my design. I managed to hatch 2 out of 12 eggs.

    • Skeffling profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Wiarton, Ontario, Canada

      Thanks finatics that awesome. I hope it helps lots of people hatch more rare chicks!!

    • finatics profile image


      7 years ago

      Great Hub! Voted up :)


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