Many people choose to raise chickens; some as a commercial venture and others for a hobby. Chickens are quite easy to raise and can make fun pets. Fertilized eggs do require special care and will normally hatch into healthy chicks.

How to Select Hatching Eggs

The first step in the selection process involves weeding out any cracked eggs. These can be cooked or thrown away because they will definitely not hatch. The most common way eggs are chosen for hatching is by a process called candling. This process distinguishes the duds from the eggs that have chicks growing inside. You can do candling by following these steps:

  1. Use a small bedside-sized lamp with a 60-watt flood light bulb installed.
  2. Cut a 2-inch hole into a thick piece of cardboard. The egg will sit on this hole.
  3. Hold the cardboard over the operating floodlight and place the egg on the hole.
  4. Observe the egg and check for a bacteria ring, a porous or cracked shell, or a growing chick with blood vessels.
Egg Care and Storage

If eggs need to be stored before they go into the incubator, they must be kept below room temperature.

  1. Fresh eggs up to five days old can remain at a temperature in the low 60s.
  2. If the eggs must wait longer than five days before hatching, place them in the refrigerator in an egg carton. Prop the egg carton at a 45-degree angle to increase the eggs' chance of hatching. They can stay in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

An incubator is anything that will keep heat and humidity at a constant level throughout the hatching period. It can be as simple as a plastic foam cooler with a humidity gauge and thermometer, or as complex as a large, specialized incubating machine that’s complete with automatic egg turners and heat and humidity adjustors.

How to Create an Inexpensive Incubator
  1. Cut a 4-by-6-inch hole in the side of a 10-gallon plastic foam cooler.
  2. Remove the glass from a 5-by-7-inch picture frame, and glue it to the inside of the cooler (over the hole) to create a window.
  3. Cover the bottom of the cooler with a 1-inch layer of aquarium gravel or sand and pour 2 tablespoons of water inside.
  4. Place a thermometer, a 15-watt bulb, and a hygrometer inside.
  5. Regulate the temperature and humidity for three days before placing the eggs inside.
Incubating Conditions

The three most important factors for success in the incubator, besides fertile eggs, are turning, temperature, and humidity.

  1. In order to keep track of turning, use a pencil to draw an X on one side of each egg.
  2. Turn the eggs three times a day so no chick becomes stuck to one side of its egg.
  3. Three days before the hatching date, stop turning the eggs.
  4. The temperature should remain constant—between 96- and 98-degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Humidity should remain between 55 and 60 percent.

Sanitation is extremely important for anything that will be in contact with hatching eggs. Make sure that all hands are washed and that the incubator has been rinsed out with bleach.

  1. Dilute a quarter cup of household bleach into a gallon of water.
  2. Wash out the inside of the incubator, including the lid and any tools.
  3. Place it in the sun to dry.
Troubleshooting Failures
  • Learn to candle eggs properly. Many have no hope of hatching,  even with the best care and incubation.
  • If the humidity is too low or too high, many problems may occur.
  • Be sure to turn the eggs properly. Even if improperly turned eggs do hatch, the chicks may be deformed.
  • If the eggs were shipped, make sure to candle them to see if their air sacs were damaged.

About the Author

Adrian Ludwig is a senior account executive at Crest Capital, where he captures incremental online sales typically lost by standard vendor finance programs. Adrian works in nearly every industry vertical, providing leases and loans for equipment, vehicles, and software. Check out his most popular piece: The Difference Between Good Debt and Bad Debt.