The comments and tips below are from my experiences and research as a Poultry keeper, breeder and supplier of Fertile Eggs, that I send eggs to all States of Australia.

They are written as a guide only, so please, like all other information sourced, feel free to read them but use your own discretion in applying them to your situation.

I hope they are written in easy to understand, uncomplicated terms fo all levels of poultry keepers.



  • Chicken  eggs take 21 days to hatch. 
  • Duck eggs take 28 days to hatch.
  • Muscovy duck eggs take 33-36 days to hatch.
  • Some bantam eggs can start pipping at 19 days and hatch at 20 Days. 
  • Candling eggs at 5-7 days is easier to see if eggs are developing than at 10-12 days.
  •  If your incubation temperature is too low and not set at optimum levels, 37.7C some eggs could take up to 23 days to hatch. 
  • It is not uncommon for some hatches to take 2-3 days from start to finish before all eggs are hatched, especially if you are hatching bantam eggs and large eggs at the same time.. be patient !
  • Make sure your incubator vents are fully open when your chicks start pipping, early hatched chicks create extra humidity through moist breath, so for eggs that have not yet hatched, the increased humidity can cause unhatched chicks to become sticky in their shells/membranes and have difficulty hatching.
  • If you candle your eggs at day 18 when you stop turning the eggs, the size of the air sac will indicate if the chicks will need high or lower humidity to hatch successfully. The larger the air sac, the higher the humidity needed.  Small air sacs don't need as much water in the water dishes, as the chicks are still well hydrated but don't let the water dishes dry out.
  • I often place moist paper towel under the eggs in the incubator on day 18 so when the chicks hatch, they have some grip and splayed legs is not a problem, it also prevents eggs/chicks sticking to the incubator mesh and makes cleaning a lot easier, if the towels tend to dry out, a light spray with a mister of warm water can be used. 
  •  Happy Hatchings !


  • Prepare and pre heat brooder before adding chicks from the incubator.  Untreated Pine wood shavings, or pine needles are a good flooring for young chicks andfor the first 24 hours, it's a good idea to cover this base bedding with a paper towel until the young chicks find their feet.
  • Shallow water dishes are a must.. chicks will drown very easily. Commercial chick drinkers work well or alternatively, use a saucer with a small glass turned upside down in the middle and fill water around the glass.  Marbles in a shallow bowl also work well.
  • Show one or two of the chicks where the water is and dip their beaks in it.. they will then show the other chicks.
  • Chick starter is a good first meal for them, up to 4-6 weeks of age.  After 4 weeks you can introduce some very small pieces of chopped silverbeet or other greens.
  • Keep a fresh supply of food and water available to the young chicks at all times... water very quickly goes stale in a warm temperature.
  • If you notice your chick's feather picking, put a generous blob of Vaseline or Zinc and Castor oil on the injured chicks wound, the other chicks will peck this and not like it at all, it virtually stops the habit before it gets started.
  • At 4 weeks old, the heat light can be turned off for short periods on warm days. Keep chicks in a draft free area. Extend 'lights off' during they day over the next week. They can also be put outside in a securely covered pen for a few hours a day, under supervision.
  • Then you can start leaving the lights off until just before you go to bed, so they have some heat during the coldest part of the night.
  • At 6 weeks old, your chicks, if fully feathered, should no longer need a heat source.  They will however continue to need warm dry housing and can be moved to an outside pen and run.
  • This is one of the high risk times for chicks as they are introduced to many new bacteria that they may not have come into contact with before.
  • Coccidiosis is one to watch for.  If you notice your young chickens looking hunched and depressed, or notice any blood or orange spots in their poohs, it's a good idea to add some Sulphaquin (or another brand of coccidiostat) to their drinking water. (follow the package directions for dosage rates)
  • Young chicks are very susceptible to predation at this age, either from vermin, crows, cats, dogs and young children etc, so please provide them with a safe environment.
  • at 7 weeks old, perches in the day run and logs etc for them to climb on, help to keep them amused, as do bunches of silverbeet tied to the top of their pen, so they can reach/jump up and pull some off.

BROODY HENS (added 29/1/10)

  • If your hen decides to go broody, she will spend a lot of time on the nest during the day and will probably remain there at night too instead of jumping up to roost.  She  may cluck and possibly peck at you when you go to check for eggs under her.  If she has been acting like this for 1-3 days, you can assume she will be ready to brood some fertile eggs for you.  If you are going to let her, then she would need to be moved to a separate area from your other hens so they do not disturb her or add their own eggs to her nest during the 3 weeks of sitting... if you leave her to sit in the main coup, you can possibly expect some broken eggs along the way.
  • Once you have moved your broody hen to her private quarters, and she is sitting tight, you can give her some eggs to incubate.
  • Some hens will hardly moved off the eggs at all, especially for the first 2-3 days when they are bringing them up to incubation temperature.  It's a good idea to lift them carefully off the nest once a day to toilet, drink and dust bath. make sure she has no eggs tucked under her wings when you lift her !
  • Mites, Lice, and other parasites can make your broody hen miserable and even cause anaemia or death in severe cases, so make sure your broody hen is well dusted with an insecticide powder such as Pestene at regular weekly intervals.  Many broody's have been driven from the nest in the last few days before eggs hatch due to being overwhelmed by parasites. 
  • It's much easier to make sure your broody hen is louse free prior to the chicks hatching, than be faced with the problems of little chicks infested with lice etc..  once they hatch.


  • To get eggs for hatching chicks, you need hens and a rooster, their eggs should then be fertile, this does not mean they have baby chicks inside them-and they can still be eaten just the same as normal eggs if you don't want to hatch them.. you won't know the difference.
  • Chicks do not start to develop inside fertile eggs until the egg has reached 37.7 C and that temperature is maintained for 12 hours or more.
  • Once the chick has started to develop inside the egg, the temp needs to be maintained at 37.7C throughout the 21 days until they hatch. (or in the case of ducklings 28 days and Muscovy's 33-36 days)
  • It is often said that fertile eggs older than a week before they are incubated, will not hatch. This of course is not so.  If given the opportunity, a hen wanting to go broody will sneak off to lay a clutch of eggs under a bush somewhere, she will lay, over some weeks, possibly 15-18 in one nest.. and if she doesn't lay everyday, the oldest egg in the clutch can be 3 weeks or so old by the time she starts to incubate them.  These eggs have been exposed to the elements, day/night temperature fluctuations, rain, humidity etc. and in 21 days she trots on out from her hiding place with a string of newly hatched chickens behind her... just as nature intended.  Eggs are a lot more resilient than they are given credit for, otherwise our humble hen would have long since become extinct...as would all the birds in the wild.  The only reason why eggs laid under these natural conditions do not hatch is that the hen has spent a lot of time away from the rooster while sneaking off to her nest, so some of the eggs may not have been fertile to start with.


  • Fertile eggs do need to be protected from impact during posting, which will cause the air sac to be dislodged or ruptured, this is probably one of the most important factors to consider.  Often, using eggs cartons, although it seems the logical choice, is not always the best one.  After many attempts at posting eggs to family members across the state, using all different methods of packaging.  Then having them sent back, candling each set of eggs for air bubbles that may have occurred during travel with different packing materials, and then finally incubating the eggs from each method to see which ones hatch with best results. I have found a method of packing eggs that ensures they will arrive to you in the best possible condition for hatching.  The packing method I use is both time consuming and expensive but if you are buying my fertile eggs, then you deserve to buy eggs that have a high chance of arriving alive and hatching.
  • Express Posting eggs is the best method to use.  They do not travel with other parcels heavier than 5kg. (less chance of impact) The eggs travel in the cool of the night for next day delivery to you, so it is of no great concern to post eggs on hot days. (within reason)
  • Eggs travelling by air are not subject to freezing temperatures in the cargo holds.  Most domestic aircraft holds are heated to 16-22C through bypass flow from the engines.
  • When your fertile eggs arrive, please unpack them carefully, place them in an egg carton, pointy end down and allow them to settle for 12+ hours at room temperature, prior to incubating them or setting them under a hen.  This allows the contents of the egg to settle after travelling.

I hope you find some of this information useful.  Please feel free to email me at shani@shrimanifarm.com with any comments or questions you may have.

I will continue to add to this page as I think of things.