Hatchery: how long does it take for chicken eggs to hatch?



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Whether the eggs are incubated by the hen or in an incubator, the chicks are born around the 21st day of incubation. There are, however, factors that can change the time of hatching. What does this mean? Should we be concerned? What other conditions are associated with hatching an egg?

What is the incubation period for chicken eggs?

Find out more about hen egg hatching

Find out more about hen egg hatching

Chicken eggs require 21 days for incubation; this is different from other poultry. On a chicken farm, a farmer may decide to bring newly hatched chicks to a hen that is already incubating. If the broody hen agrees to brood the chicks that are brought to her, the farmer should take care to remove the old eggs from the coop.

Some companies use specific machines to incubate the eggs in optimal conditions. Ecat-ID offers its customers a range of machines adapted to poultry hatcheries to improve their efficiency and profitability. These machines can even solve the challenges inherent to hatcheries and represent a very practical alternative solution.

An egg doesn’t hatch in 21 days: what that means

In a chicken farm, certain situations can be stressful. For example, eggs may not hatch after 21 days. But there’s no need to worry. The process takes longer if, for example, fertilized eggs are cooled before incubation. Just give the eggs a few more days and let the chicks hatch on their own.

How long can the chickens sit on the eggs?

After laying a quantity of eggs, the unattended broody hen in the coop will stop laying. She will then sit on her eggs for 21 days to incubate them, waiting for them to hatch.

The time required for a chick to emerge from its shell.

Before hatching, the chick will make sure that its beak is close to the air chamber (pocket which contains the oxygen which the chick needs to breathe during hatching). It will then pierce the membrane of the aforementioned pocket, then it will be with the turn of the shell.

The chick that pierced the first hole in the egg shell will emerge unaided, and this in less than 24 hours. Thus, if there are no signs of injury in the chick, it is not necessary to help it hatch until 24 hours have passed.

Details that show an egg is about to hatch

There are several details you can rely on to determine if an egg is ready to hatch. First, the egg in the nest will look clear. Only the air sac in the fat end of the egg will be different. Later, the air sac will enlarge, and a few days after this enlargement, the hatching of the chick will be noticed. Between days 2 and 3, the yolk will be visible.

The average age of a chicken laying an egg for the first time

In most cases, laying hens lay their first egg when they are 18 weeks old. Thereafter, depending on the breed, the individual bird and the environment in which it lives, the laying rate will be about 1 egg per day.

The number of times a hen turns her eggs per day

In a traditional hatching process, hens turn their eggs regularly. This allows the embryo to get into the position that will allow it to break through the outer shell.

During the first observations on wild chickens, it was found that a broody hen could turn her eggs 96 times in one day, that is to say 4 times per hour at the beginning of the incubation. With the modernization of incubation technology, this has changed. For example, incubators now turn their eggs 24 times a day, or 1 time an hour.

How long can a chicken stay away from her eggs?

The exact length of time a hen can be away from her eggs will be determined by a number of parameters. These include the temperature outside, the number of eggs in the nest and the distance the egg has travelled. In general, however, it is best for the hen to spend no more than 4 hours away from her eggs.

How many times a year can a hen brood?

Generally speaking, a hen should only brood once a year. However, some hens will brood several times in a year. To avoid this, it is advisable to collect the eggs as soon as the hen has finished laying, or even every day.

By not allowing the eggs to accumulate, you will prevent the hen from laying. Note that as soon as they are between 5 and 8 months old (laying age), the brooding instinct is triggered in broody hens. Indeed, although not all layers are broody, brooding is an instinct for those who do it.

Ways to tell if a chick is alive in an egg

An egg that is fresher than the others is an indication that the chick is dead. Of course, this depends on the distance travelled. On the other hand, as long as you see blood vessels in the egg when you move it, it means that the chick is alive. If it dies, all the vessels will collapse.

Factors that can influence hatching time

There are several factors that can influence the hatching time. These include: temperature variations in the incubator, the health of the mother hen and the age of the eggs. For example, some chicks hatch a little before day 21, while others hatch later.

Helping a chick to hatch: good or bad idea?

Generally, it is not necessary to help a chick to hatch. If the conditions inside the incubator are good, a chick will emerge from the egg after 24 hours. This is a normal period of time and nothing to worry about. Helping a hen to hatch is therefore a bad idea.

By doing so, you risk creating a weaker breed of hen in future generations. This is because a chick that wants to come out of its shell needs strength and endurance. So, helping a weak chick to emerge will negatively impact the strength of the breed.


The eggs, incubated by the hen or in an incubator, have a specific time limit of 21 days before hatching. However, there may be a delay. However, there is generally no cause for concern. The best thing is to let nature take its course!

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