As you have no doubt read previously, we are raising our two children in the city where they are not exposed to the same incidental learning opportunities that I took for granted living in the country as a child. Whilst I was continuously exposed to animals birthing (sheep, cows, horses, dogs and cats mainly) my children are unlikely to witness this in nature unless we are fortunate enough to stumble upon it occurring.
For a long while now we have had “watch a chick hatch from its egg” on our Kid Bucket List. It is much easier to organise and observe with chicks only taking about 21 days to incubate. We set out to acquire some fertilised eggs, an incubator and a suitable place to set it all up. We were keen, This was an opportunity for us to have chickens! In some ways we were lucky that we came across a hatching exhibition at the Camden Show. Right in front of us was a whole tray of incubated eggs hatching. What luck! (which also led to us forgetting the chicken egg and sourcing two beautiful ducks who have been the source of much joy ever since. They’ve become our pseudo-dogs).
An important thing to remember if you are going to hatch your own eggs is that you have a 50:50 chance with each egg of it being a rooster. That means you do have a high probability of having many of them. Before you start, please think about what you will do with your roosters. Will you be able to find suitable homes for them? Would you be comfortable eating them? Too many roosters will result in lots of fighting and overbred hens. They won’t be happy. If you don’t have a plan, don’t hatch them!
My children were mesmerised by the process. They remained right in front of the incubator watching and waiting for the chicks to make their way out of the eggs. Their observations led Master R to proclaim “it certainly takes longer than in the movies“. I was a little surprised by this myself. I’ve only seen chick appear from beneath broody hens and had never considered that breaking out of an egg would be a lengthy process. Of course it would! The poor chicks tire easily. They are babies.
So we watched and waited. Saw them peck their way out slowly. Wriggle to freedom and then lay outside the egg as they regained their energy. It was an amazing process and our patience was rewarded with the kids having a chance to hold the babies a little while later once their feathers were dry and fluffy.
If you are thinking of hatching chickens, check out this great WikiHow for some tips.