Chicks grow up quickly and soon it will be time to transition your chicks into their Eglu chicken coop. Their brooder will start to feel crowded after a few weeks, and your fully feathered pullets will be ready to strut out in a coop of their own. We’re here to help you make moving day an easy and stress-free experience.
What age can chicks move into their Eglu chicken coop?
Chicks are usually fully feathered by the time they’re 6 weeks old, but not all chicks are ready to venture beyond their brooder at this age. Even though they’ve traded their fluffy down for mature feathers, they’re still very young. At Omlet, we recommend transitioning your chicks from their brooder to their Eglu chicken coop at 12 weeks of age.
Waiting until your chicks are 12 weeks old will give them time to become more coordinated and build the strength they need to navigate ladders, and give them plenty of time to become familiar with their rise-to-roost schedule.
From brooder to coop
These 12 weeks will go by in a blink of an eye, so be sure to prepare for (and enjoy) your chicks’ time in the brooder. Caring for newly hatched chicks is exciting, and will set the tone for the rest of your relationship with them. Handling your chicks daily will help build a bond and before long your chicks will trust you, and there’s no better time than when they’re in their brooder to kickstart this relationship. Once your little flock trusts you, it will make their transition to their coop even easier.
Once your chicks are 12 weeks old and are all healthy and happy, it’s time to make the move to the coop. The big moving day should be based on the weather rather than a specific date. You want to look for a sunny day with moderate temperatures – ideally between 65-80℉. Avoid moving your chicks on windy or wet days, and try to move them as early as possible so that they can experience a full day and be ready to head to bed when night falls.
Tips for your chicks’ first night
If your brooder utilizes a brooding plate rather than a heat lamp, your chicks may already have the hang of going to bed at nightfall. But, being in a brooder is much different than being out in the big world, so even chicks that have an established sleep cycle may be caught off guard during their first night out.
First and foremost, you’ll want to keep your chicks safe from predators. The attached runs of the Eglu chicken coops are predator-resistant, but they will be much safer and more comfortable overnight in the roosting area inside of the coop. You may need to manually tuck your chicks in on their first night (or two) and close the door until they learn when bedtime is.
If you have an Autodoor, the coop light acts like a nightlight to guide sleepy heads to the roost. This is particularly helpful for chicks that were raised with a coop light – they’ll associate light with warmth and will seek it out when darkness falls.
New chicks and the existing pecking order
If you’re introducing your chicks to an existing flock, your older hens will help them learn the tips and tricks of the coop. But, older hens will also let newcomers know who’s in charge. Every flock of chickens has a hierarchy, and by understanding the pecking order in chickens you’ll be able to recognize what is normal hen behavior, or what constitutes bullying and the need to remove your chicks for their safety.
Most chicks fall into line quickly, just as most hens at the top of the pecking order aren’t ruthless tyrants. There are exceptions to the rule though, so be on the lookout for concerning behavior like:
Hens keeping chicks away from food or out of the coop
Scuffles severe enough to draw blood or cause excessive feather loss
Pinning chicks down
If you notice your hens not accepting your chicks into the flock, try setting up an adjacent run or add walk in chicken run partitions to your setup to allow them to get to know each other through a safety barrier. It’s rare for hens to forever hold a grudge against new additions, so be patient, but also conscientious of the safety of your chicks.
Omlet and your chicks
Our products are designed to keep your flock safe – no matter their age, and to make caring for your chickens less of a chore and more of an enjoyable activity. The Eglu Cube chicken coop is perfect for growing flocks, especially when paired with our walk in chicken run. And, by installing an Autodoor, you’ll have peace of mind from the start. Make moving day an enjoyable and memorable experience for you and your chicks, and set the tone for a lifetime of adventures together.
What is a chicken hatchery? How do they operate? Can anyone purchase chicks from a hatchery? How do you receive the chicks you’ve purchased? We’ve answered all of these questions and more in this informative guide to chicken hatcheries. And, if you’re considering purchasing chicks from a hatchery, we’ll help you determine how to choose a reputable one.
Chicken hatcheries are commercial operations that breed chickens, incubate their eggs, and sell the chicks they hatch. Some hatcheries breed and sell chicks all year round, while others may stick to the seasonal demand for chicks – usually in the spring.
There are no federal laws that govern chicken hatcheries (unless hatching eggs or chicks are being imported or exported), but individual states may have their own rules and regulations for hatcheries. Many states require chicks to be NPIP certified, or tested for certain diseases before being shipped or received.
The National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) was a program that was developed in 1935 as a state to federal cooperative testing endeavor to maintain healthy chicken-raising standards. NPIP-certified hatcheries such as Meyer Hatchery are those that routinely send flock samples to be tested for a wide range of avian illnesses. NPIP certification also requires a tour of the hatchery’s facility to ensure safe and sanitary practices are being followed. To maintain their NPIP certification, a hatchery must keep clean facilities and flocks free of the diseases they routinely test for.
Why choose a chicken hatchery?
If you’re looking for a specific breed, or want a wide selection of chicken breeds, a chicken hatchery may be your best option. Chicken hatcheries often offer an array of different breeds and colors patterns, and may even part with older hens that are ready for retirement. Chicks can be shopped for, purchased, and shipped all through the hatchery’s website, and will be delivered to your local post office.
Hatcheries are usually NPIP certified and should be breeding chicks that conform to breed standards. This makes for not only healthy chicks, but also those that are good examples of the breeds they represent. Chicken hatcheries are also a great resource for you as a flock raiser when you have questions about caring for a particular breed, and can help you choose breeds that are best suited for your climate and lifestyle.
Some chicken hatcheries may vaccinate their chicks (usually for Marek’s disease) before they leave for their new homes. Vaccines are not required for chicks in the US, but may be an option for a nominal fee, or be standard practice for a particular hatchery. If vaccinating is not in line with your flock-raising philosophy, be sure to ask the hatchery if they can refrain from vaccinating your chicks.
Top 5 questions answered about chicken hatcheries
For anyone who hasn’t ordered chicks from a chicken hatchery, the process can seem daunting. We’ve compiled a list of the most common questions and concerns that revolve around ordering chicks from a hatchery so that you can feel confident in your decision.
How do I choose a reputable chicken hatchery?
While just about anyone can hatch chicks from eggs, hatcheries should have a verifiable history of selling healthy chicks. To ensure further quality control, choose a hatchery that is NPIP certified. Just like you would with other businesses, look at a chicken hatchery’s online reviews or talk to customers that have purchased from them before. Pictures of past hatched chicks, their breeding stock, and their facility are all telling of the quality of the chicks they have to offer.
You can also call a chicken hatchery in order to feel confident about purchasing chicks from them. Ask questions like:
How long have you been selling chicks?
Do you keep your breeding stock on site?
Are you NPIP certified?
Do you vaccinate your chicks?
Keep a record of the answers to these questions for each hatchery that you contact. This will help you make the most informed decision when it comes time to order your chicks.
What kinds of chickens do hatcheries offer?
Most hatcheries offer many different breeds of chickens, while some may specialize in meat or laying breeds. Chicks may be purchased as young as 24 hours old, while some hatcheries may offer older chicks or hens. A chicken hatchery’s website should have a catalog of the breeds they raise, along with their pricing and shipping requirements.
Can anyone buy chicks from a hatchery anytime?
The majority of hatcheries offer their chicks to the general public. Anyone can purchase chicks from these hatcheries, but they may have minimum purchase quantities or seasonal requirements. Some hatcheries may also be unable to ship to certain states, depending on their regulations, weather patterns along the way, or time constraints.
Spring is traditionally the peak season for hatcheries, but raising chicks in the fall is rising in popularity. Certain breeds fare better in colder temperatures, and are more likely to be fully-feathered by the time winter makes its appearance. Talk with your hatchery to see which breeds they recommend to raise in the fall.
Where can I find a chicken hatchery?
A quick Google search may yield several options for chicken hatcheries near you, or options for hatcheries that ship chicks all over the country. Many hatcheries have websites for you to view and purchase from, and should have all of their certifications on display. If you find a hatchery close to you, make sure they meet your criteria.
Purchasing chicks from a chicken hatchery
You’ve chosen your chicken hatchery, picked out your chicks, and are now ready to complete your purchase. But now what happens? There are a couple of different options when it comes to receiving your chicks.
How will I receive my chicks?
There are 2 potential ways of obtaining your chicks that you’ve purchased from a chicken hatchery. They are:
Many hatcheries offer local pickup if you live close by – though be sure to ask if this is an option before placing your order. Picking your chicks up from the hatchery will save on shipping costs and the potential stress that chicks may encounter during shipping.
However, some hatcheries do not allow customers onsite in order to protect their flocks from potential contamination. This is one reason why shipping chicks is commonplace with many hatcheries. A chicken hatchery may also be willing to meet you in a neutral place for you to pick up your chicks. This eliminates the risk of contaminating their facility, but may not always be possible with their schedule.
If picking your chicks up is an option, make sure you have the following items ready in your vehicle:
A small, closed container with ventilation
Bedding or towel for the container
Handwarmers under a towel if the temperatures are cold and the drive is more than an hour
Some hatcheries offer shipping, but the United States Postal Service (USPS) is the only carrier that will ship live chicks – and they have strict rules that must be adhered to. The current regulations for shipping live chicks require them to be no more than 24 hours old at the time of shipment, and no more than 72 hours old by the time they arrive. The USPS will ship and receive chicks beyond this window, but they must be at least 6 weeks old and weigh at least 6 oz. The reason for this is that chicks have nutrients that are absorbed from the yolk upon hatching, which wanes by the time they are 72 hours old. As for older chicks, at 6 weeks old, chicks are usually fully-feathered and can withstand the variable temperatures of shipping.
Hatcheries that ship chicks may have order minimums depending on the time of year. During the colder months, chicks need to be shipped in larger quantities so that they can huddle together for extra warmth. Hatcheries may also put heat packs in the shipping containers with them.
Conversely, hatcheries may not ship during certain months if the weather is too hot. A good chicken hatchery will be weather aware of the routes their chicks must follow and will ship accordingly. This can be tricky with the 24-hour age rule, so be sure to talk to the hatchery before placing your order.
All chicks shipped in the US will be delivered via USPS to your local post office. Once your chicks arrive, your post office will call you to come pick them up. Be sure that your schedule is clear on the day that your chicks will arrive – chicks cannot be left unattended at the post office. Open your box right away to ensure your chicks have arrived safely, and that they match the description of the breeds you selected.
Getting ready for your chicks to arrive
Getting your brooder pen set up is an excellent way to busy yourself while you wait for your chicks to arrive. Familiarize yourself with basic chick care, and make sure you have all of your supplies ready for their arrival. Here’s a quick checklist of the items needed for newly hatched chicks:
A brooder pen
Heat source (brooder plate or heat lamp)
A thermometer to place on the side of the brooder
Feeders and waterers designed for chicks
This is also a great time to be thinking about their permanent setup once they’re ready to leave their brooder. Once chicks are 12 weeks old, they’ll be ready to move into the Eglu Cube chicken coop for their permanent home. While your chicks are happily growing in the brooder, you can spend your time choosing the spot for their coop, assembling it, and familiarizing yourself with it before your chicks make the big move from brooder to coop.
Omlet and your hatchery chicks
It’s exciting to welcome new chicks home to a brooder, but what about when it’s time for them to move outdoors? Omlet’s Eglu Cube chicken coop is your all-in-one solution for chicks 12 weeks and older. Have confidence in ordering, caring for, and transitioning your chicken hatchery chicks when you rely on Omlet.
Worried about keeping chicks safe from predators? It’s a valid concern – chicks are more vulnerable to attacks from predators than full-grown hens, and they’re more naive to the wily ways of these skillful hunters. Thankfully, we’ve designed solutions to keep chicks safe from harm. Discover which predators pose the highest risk to young chicks, and see how Omlet can help keep even your smallest flock members safe.
Why are chicks a target for predators?
Chicks are an easy target for predators because of their size and lack of experience with other animals. While chickens are all born with an innate sense of danger, chicks learn a lot through experience or from example with a mother hen. Chicks raised in a brooder being handled by humans daily don’t have this learning opportunity.
You’ll notice most (if not all) chicks will be skittish of things that move quickly or make a sudden noise, like your hand or if you clear your throat. They’ll startle or scatter at the sight of a pet dog or cat, or may even be alarmed at your sudden presence over the brooder pen. These are all normal behaviors for a chick, which, unfortunately, are well-recognized by skilled predators. They’ll bide their time and are well practiced in moving in a stealthy manner to surprise their unsuspecting prey.
When can chicks move outside?
You can start moving your chicks outside once they are fully feathered, which usually occurs between 6-8 weeks of age for most breeds. Once they’ve reached this milestone, you can begin taking them outside for supervised stints to explore their coop and run. Choose warm, sunny days so that they don’t get chilled, and make sure you can stay with them for the entirety of their excursion.
It’s important to keep your chicks close by and in a fully enclosed area during their visits to the great outdoors. Predators will gladly take advantage of exposed or unprotected chicks. Chicks will draw attention from predators easily, as they will be excitedly pecking, hopping, and scratching around in their new environment. Because of this, it’s vital to make sure they are fully protected while outside.
Once chicks are 12 weeks old, they can move into their Omlet chicken coop full-time. This recommendation is based not only on a chick’s development, but also to ensure they are large enough to navigate the ladder of raised coops, or to be comfortable with heading in to roost on time.
5 chick predators
While any chicken predator can pose a risk to your chicks, there are some that are more apt to go after your small flock members because of their size. Similarly, the predators that would make a quick meal of a chick can also pose a threat to full-grown hens. But to help you better prepare your setup for your new flock members, we’ve compiled a list of predators that are likely to pose the most risk to your chicks in particular.
Rats may be small, but a young chick is no match for them. While they are normally scavengers, rats are also opportunistic eaters and won’t hesitate to go after a live chick if they’re hungry. One swift bite from a rat can spell the end for a chick.
Raccoons are notorious for reaching through the openings in runs to grab poultry. Their attacks are calculated and macabre – raccoons may only take the heads of their prey, leaving the rest of the carcass in the run. But, if chicks are small enough to fit through the openings, a raccoon will take their prey and leave no trace of their visit.
To keep chickens safe from raccoons, the attached run of the Eglu Cube has a tighter mesh pattern along the bottom of the run, that slowly graduates to larger openings as the mesh ascends. The doors are also fitted with t-locking handles that require opposable thumbs to open. This prevents raccoons from using their paws to grab chicks through the run, or turn the handles of the coop doors.
Similar to raccoons, snakes will take advantage of small gaps or openings in chicken pens. One of the most common and troublesome reptiles that go after chicks are rat snakes – also aptly called “chicken snakes.” These non-venomous snakes can grow to be 42-72 inches in length, and use the method of constriction to immobilize their prey. While they prefer rodents or chicken eggs, they will happily constrict and swallow chicks.
As a general rule, snakes can get through any opening that their head fits in. To protect your chicks from snakes, you must have openings less than ½ inch along the bottom 4 feet of the run. And, if your run is around any shrubs or trees you’ll need this protection along the top as well – rat snakes are avid climbers and can get the drop on your coop. Chicken run covers can be used along with hardware cloth to help keep snakes out of the run.
Birds of prey
Birds of prey like hawks, eagles, or owls, primarily pose a risk of aerial attacks. These birds will swoop down and grab any small animal they think they can pick up. Some large birds have even been known to attack through the sides of a run much like a raccoon – grabbing any nearby chicks and pulling them through the opening.
The attached run of the Eglu Cube has a fully enclosed top to prevent attacks from above, and the tight mesh along the bottom protects your chicks from side-swiping efforts. Keep your chicks’ feed in airtight containers, and their feeders and waterers out of sight from birds of prey to not draw unwanted attention.
Domestic dogs and cats
Sometimes the biggest threat to your chicks can be a member of your own family. Dogs and cats can accidentally hurt chicks, or intentionally go after them if they have a high prey drive. Even calm dogs and cats can become easily excitable when they hear or see chicks in their backyard.
Keep your dog on a leash when introducing them to your chicks for the first time, and always through the safety of a sturdy barrier like the attached run of the Eglu Cube. Cats should also be monitored closely when they’re introduced to your chicks.
Keeping chicks safe
You’ve spent weeks taking care of your chicks in a brooder, so it’s only natural to be apprehensive when you first move them outside. From their first moments in their outdoor setup, you’ll want them to be as safe as possible.
To add even more security to your Eglu Cube, an Automatic Chicken Coop Door can be integrated seamlessly for not just an automated schedule, but an extra layer of security. The horizontal opening mechanism makes it extremely difficult for predators to pry open, and your chicks will be tucked in safely each night on time – with or without you being there.
Omlet and keeping your flock safe
Omlet’s products have been designed with security at the forefront. Whether you have an existing flock that you’re adding chicks to or are getting chicks to begin your chicken-keeping journey, our products will keep them safe. The walk in chicken run, Autodoor, and Eglu Cube have all been designed to keep flocks of all stages and ages protected for a lifetime. When you choose an Omlet setup to house your chicks, it will be the only one you ever need.
Chicks are generally associated with springtime, but have you thought about raising chicks in the fall? Getting an earlier start to raising your chicks means they’ll start laying their first eggs during the spring, and watching chicks grow during the winter months is a welcome change from an otherwise stagnant season for growth. Of course, there are a few modifications to be made when starting out with chicks in the fall instead of spring, but with the right setup, your fall chicks will successfully grow into spring chickens.
Benefits of raising chicks in fall
Like spring, fall is a season of change. In nature, birds (your hens included) are more likely to sit on a nest of eggs in the spring, knowing there will be lush vegetation and warmer weather for their chicks to thrive in. But, with a helping human hand, those conditions can be simulated in your own backyard.
Cooler temperatures for brooders
This consideration is especially important for flock-raisers in warmer climates. Since chicks need to be kept under a heat source until they are fully feathered, the added heat in already warm weather can turn dangerous in a hurry. Chicks may succumb to heat stroke if they get too warm in their brooder – particularly closed brooder pens. In the mild temperatures of fall, your chicks aren’t at risk of overheating from the weather in addition to their brooder plate or lamp.
Fully feathered before winter
Chicks are fully feathered by 6-12 weeks, depending on their breed. By the time they are 12 weeks old, they are ready to move into their Eglu Cube chicken coop. With the dual-layer insulation of the Eglu Cube, you’ll feel confident about moving your young adult hens to their outdoor setup, knowing they’ll be warm in the falling temperatures.
You’ll still want to coordinate when to move your chicks outside with the weather. Choose a week where the lows at night will be 50℉ or above to help their transition easier. Most chicks hatched in September will be ready to move into their Eglu Cube by November – which is well in advance of most areas experiencing frigid temperatures.
Fresh eggs by spring
When chicks are hatched in the spring, their long-awaited first egg usually does not make its appearance until late summer. And, since some climates see scorching summer temperatures, sometimes their first eggs are delayed until the fall. Egg production is difficult for a newly-mature hen to master while trying to keep their energy expenditure to a minimum.
Your fall chicks will be able to supply your family with fresh eggs by the time spring comes around. And, since they’ll have a season of egg laying under their belts, the likelihood of them continuing their egg production through the summer is much higher than if they had just gotten started. And, with a fun accessory like an egg skelter, your kitchen will be ready for spring and a steady supply of eggs.
Preparation for raising chicks in fall
Obtaining chicks in the fall may be slightly more difficult than in the spring. Large retailers that usually sell chicks in the spring will likely not carry chicks any other time of the year. But, hatcheries typically ship chicks all year round, depending on your location. Their breed selection may be more limited in the fall, so be sure to ask if you can request a particular breed, or if the breed you intend to raise will be available.
Other options include:
Incubating fertilized eggs (purchased from a breeder, or from your own flock if you have a rooster)
Buying chicks from individuals or breeders
Some breeders may have waiting lists in preparation for the slower seasons, to reach out sooner rather than later to secure your chicks.
Safely raising chicks in fall
Fall may be an “off-season” for chicks, but that doesn’t mean that chicks can’t be successfully and safely raised this time of the year. In fact, in some parts of the US, it may actually be more beneficial to raise chicks in the fall instead of the spring.
Predators are much more active in the spring than in the fall. Those that are still active in the fall will decrease their movement as the temperatures decline – which means by the time your chicks are old enough to move to their outdoor setup. While your chicks are in their brooder, you can make adjustments to their chicken coop and run to make it more predator resistant – without having extra vegetation making modifications more difficult.
Chicks don’t need rich foods like treats or insects until they have grown accustomed to their feed. If offered these foods too soon, they will prefer them over the balanced diet that laying pellets or crumbles provide. Fall and winter offer much fewer insects and grazing opportunities than springtime – ensuring your chicks will adhere and grow to love their diet that you’ve painstakingly planned out for them.
This same school of thought applies to any adult hens you may adopt during the fall. As part of your fall chicken coop preparations, you can make sure your new additions grow accustomed to the new diet they’re offered. By spring, they’ll be familiar with and well nourished by their laying feed.
Omlet and your fall chicks
No matter what time of the year, Omlet makes it safe and enjoyable to raise chickens. With our safe and comfortable Eglu chicken coop and run and Chicken coop weather protection, your fall chicks will be ready for the wintertime in their outdoor setup. Be sure to grab an egg skelter along with your chicks for the fall – you’ll be needing it to display those fresh eggs by the beginning of spring.
Wondering when your brooder-raised chicks can go outside? Raising hens from chicks is an exciting endeavor, but deciding when it’s safe to transition them to the outside world can seem daunting. As with most plans, timing is key! We’ve taken the guesswork out of transitioning chicks from a brooder and into their forever coop and run. With the help of a comfortable chicken coop and the knowledge to follow, you’ll gain the confidence to know when and how to safely move your chicks outside.
At what age is it safe for chicks to go outside?
If you’ve had your chicks since they hatched, or got them shortly after, you’ll recall how soft and fluffy (and adorable) they looked. The “downy” feathers that give a chick their fuzzy appearance don’t stick around for long. You’ll soon notice your once fluffy chicks start to look a bit bedraggled. This perfectly normal (while unsightly) phenomenon is simply the process of your chicks’ adult feathers growing in. In general, you should see these adult feathers start to peek through sometime between 7 and 14 days old. There are multiple factors that will determine how quickly a chick grows their adult feathers such as:
Once you’ve noticed these adult feathers mottling your chicks’ fluff, it’s time to start slowly decreasing the temperature of the brooder. Aim to reduce their heat by 5℉ each week until the brooder and the ambient temperature are the same. This gradual decrease in temperature will further aid in their transition to life outside.
By the time your chicks reach 5 weeks of age, they’ve officially entered their “teenage stage.” They may sport a convincing set of adult feathers, but like most teenagers, are not quite mature enough for the outside world! Once your “teenage” chicks reach 6-8 weeks of age, it’s time to consider letting them fly the brooder in favor of some supervised outdoor excursions.
3 essential factors to consider when taking chicks outside
To help you determine if your chicks are ready to spend any amount of time outdoors, ask yourself:
Do my chicks have all of their adult feathers?
Is the weather above 60℉?
Will they have a fully enclosed space?
When your chicks are fully clothed in their adult feathers, they can withstand temperatures as low as 60℉. Sunny days are always best for outings with your chicks, and it’s important that they stay dry in order to help them regulate their temperatures. Afully enclosed chicken run is essential for outdoor visits – especially if you’re unable to stay with them the entire time.
Temperature and climate considerations
Timing is key when moving your chicks from their brooder to their coop and run, but if your chicks are at least 6-8 weeks old, they’ll be able to tolerate cooler temperature dips. If you have achicken tractor, you may want to move it around to follow the sun to help your chicks transition from artificial heat to natural heat. And, if your area experiences frequent weather fluctuations in the colder months, you can addextreme weather protection to your chicks’ coop to ensure they stay cozy overnight when they are most vulnerable.
If you’re letting your chicks out during warmer months, araised chicken coop offers additional shelter and shade. Like adult chickens, chicks can become overheated in warm climates. Be sure to have plenty of fresh water available, and usechicken run covers to provide ample shaded areas.
Predator protection for chicks
Once your chicks are spending large stretches of time outside, it’s not always feasible to monitor them. Asafe chicken coop andpredator-resistant walk in chicken run are essential not only for housing hens, but for introducing chicks to the outdoors as well.Chicken predators are mainly active at night, but there are those that would not pass up an opportunity for chicks during daylight hours.
Consider giving your chicks plenty of places to “hide” if they get overstimulated. Simple structures such as upturned cardboard boxes with entrances cut into them, or other DIY hides are sufficient. And while your chicks might not be big enough to fully utilize chicken perches, Omlet’sFreestanding Chicken Perch has easy height adjustable perches to give your chicks an opportunity to practice their climbing skills.
Some chicks are hatched and raised naturally under their mothers. Hens can go “broody” (sitting on a clutch of eggs to hatch) any time of the year, but will usually attempt to hatch eggs in the spring. If your hen is broody in the winter, it’s best to discourage her by collecting eggs daily, as chicks hatched in the winter will have a harder time than those hatched in the warmer months. If your location experiences mild winters, hens can successfully keep chicks warm in below-freezing temperatures, but will need to be monitored to ensure that the chicks aren’t being left unattended for too long when the hen goes to eat or drink.
Nature will take its course when chicks are left to be raised by a hen. Hens will provide warmth to their chicks even after they hatch, making them the “brooder.” Good mother hens instinctively know how long their chicks can withstand the absence of heat, and will help their young adjust to the ambient temperature.
If your hen hatched chicks in an elevated chicken coop, consider moving both the hen and chicks to aground-level chicken coop to avoid chicks accidentally falling while following their mother. Alternatively, you can remove the hatched chicks from the hen once they are dry and place them in a brooder.
Taking chicks outside during the day
If you’ve been decreasing the temperature of the brooder, your chicks should be comfortable outside in temperatures as low as 60℉ by the time they are 6-8 weeks old. For successful outdoor excursions with your chicks, choose days that are sunny and warm. Start with short visits to yourchicken pen and let them hop and scratch around.
Every chick is different, but expect to see hesitation or uncertainty from your chicks at first. The feeling of grass under their feet is much different from the straw, shavings, or flooring of their brooder. The outdoors hold many sights, sounds and smells that are foreign to brooder-raised chicks, so start with short visits to avoid overstimulating them. Aim for 10-15 minutes once or twice a day to help build your chicks’ confidence. Be sure to stay with your chicks during these first few visits to see how they react to their surroundings.
After several days of short visits, increase outside time by 10-15 minutes every couple of days, keeping the weather in mind. Before long, your chicks will be spending many daylight hours getting used to their permanent home. If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to start letting your chicks out in their coop and run during their outdoor time.
Checklist for permanently moving chicks outside
Your chicks are fully feathered, have successfully completed outdoor trips to their new home, and are thriving. It’s time to make the move permanent! Make sure the following are met before moving your chicks outside full-time:
Outdoor temperatures of 60℉ or higher, even overnight
Your chicks are at least 6-8 weeks old
If you are moving your chicks to an Eglu chicken coop, the recommended age is 12 weeks old. This gives them ample time to grow into a size that is appropriate for the design of Omlet coops. Roosting racks and coop ladders may pose a challenge to chicks under 12 weeks of age, and the wire spacing of the run was designed with larger chicks in mind.
Can chicks be outside with other hens?
If your chicks will be joining other hens, follow the same steps as you would whenintroducing new chickens to your flock. Quarantine periods need not apply to chicks you’ve raised yourself in a brooder, as you would see signs of illness during that time. However, you’ll want to introduce chicks to their future flock-mates slowly to minimize the risk of injuries. Achicken pen placed inside or next to your existing flock will allow your chicks to visit your other hens safely.
As always, hens have to establish a pecking order, regardless of how many times they’ve seen each other through a barrier. Always monitor the first encounter when introducing new members to a flock. Quickly remove any chicks that hens appear to pick on, and consider housing them or any aggressive hens separately until your chicks are bigger.
Winter considerations for letting chicks outside
Most chicken keepers will agree that spring and early summer are the best months to move their chicks outside. However, with some climates experiencing dreadful cold for over half of the year, it can make spring chick-raising slightly more difficult. In these situations, it’s best to keep your chicks in their brooder for as long as possible – ideally, until they are 12-16 weeks old. If your chicks are too large to stay in the brooder for that long, be sure to take extra precautions against the cold.Prepare your chicks’ coop and run for the winter as you normally would for adult hens, trusting that yourEglu keeps your chickens warm. Additionalweather protection for your chicken coopcan be added to provide extra insulation.
Are my chicks too cold?
The same signs ofchickens being too cold apply to chicks. Check-in on your chicks routinely and monitor for any signs of them getting too chilly, such as:
Standing with one foot off of the ground
Discoloration of combs, wattles, or feet
If you notice any of these in your chicks during cold weather, bring them inside promptly. Do not warm them up too quickly, as this can cause them to go into shock. Only use a heat lamp if their inside area is in a drafty space such as a garage or barn. Indoor temperatures above 65℉ will be adequate to slowly warm up any overly-chilled chicks. Keep them inside until they are eating and drinking normally, and plan to let them back out when the outdoor temperatures stabilize.
When chicks should not go outside
There are some circumstances where chicks should not be transitioned outdoors. These include:
If your chicks are less than 6 weeks old
Sustained temperatures below freezing if your chicks are less than 12 weeks old
During heavy rains or extreme weather
If your chicks cannot easily access their coop
Always check your weather forecast to get an idea of temperatures and precipitation for the week you plan to permanently transition your chicks outdoors. If heavy rains are expected, or any other significant weather events are, postpone until conditions improve. Wet chicks, just like their adult counterparts, have a hard time regulating their body temperatures when they’re wet.
Some chicks get the hang of a chicken coop ladder quickly, while others may struggle to perfect this technique. If you notice that some of your chicks are unable to use a ladder, create a ramp to lay on top of the ladder rungs. Once they’ve gotten the hang of using their growing feet, you can remove the ramp.
Lastly, consideravian flu and its prevalence in your area. Chicks are just as much at risk for contracting avian flu as adult hens, but by usingwaterproof chicken run tarps to prevent droppings from wild birds, you can greatly minimize that risk.
Omlet’s award-winning chicken care products
Omlet aims to help you succeed in all of your chicken-keeping endeavors, including supporting you in your journey of raising hens from chicks.Large chicken coops help accommodate your growing flock, andmobile chicken coops help move your chicks even closer to you for supervision, or to get them closer to their future flock-mates. Ourhen houses make excellent first-time homes for chicks, keeping them safe and comfortable in all climates.
Considering hatching chicken eggs? Well, you’re in for an exciting time! Hatching eggs is an unforgettable experience for any chicken keeper but before you begin, here is the hatching eggs 101 guide to ensure that you and your chicks get off to the best start!
Why should I hatch eggs?
First and foremost, chickens make fantastic pets. In fact, this month we’re telling you all about why chickens are so great! Have a read of our Chicken Keeping Mythsblog that will set straight facts from fiction when it comes to getting chickens.
In addition to this, hatching eggs is an incredibly rewarding experience. From incubating eggs to seeing your chicks hatch, and then going on to flourish as adult chickens. You really do witness life from its very beginning!
Can I hatch supermarket eggs?
Here we have a very common egg hatching myth… or, is it? We’ve all heard a story from a friend of a friend who has supposedly hatched a supermarket egg. While the possibility of this seems exciting, the reality is that is a highly unlikely event.
For an egg to hatch it must be fertilized, and fertile eggs are hardly found in our supermarket aisles. For an egg to be fertilized, the hen must have had access to a male chicken. This does not occur for most chickens that produce eggs for our supermarkets. However, you may find that if you shop for eggs at a farm shop where hens have had interaction with a cockerel, the eggs you pick up could, in fact, be fertile. This still doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to hatch chicks, though, as the conditions in which the eggs are contained also plays a role in the development from egg to chick. For example, being refrigerated or the humidity levels being unsuitable, will stunt this development. So, if you’re looking to hatch chicks, supermarket eggs is probably not the way to go.”
Where do I get the eggs?
One good place to start on your egg hunt is by contacting a reliable chicken breeder. It’s important to note that while a chicken breeder can be confident that the eggs they’re selling are fertilized, this still doesn’t mean a 100% guarantee. Therefore, choosing an experienced breeder will give you the best chance. The method most breeders will use to see if an egg is fertilized is called candling. This is whereby an egg is very literally held up to a warm candle. If the egg appears to be opaque when candled, then it is most likely fertilized.
Alternatively, you can also buy fertilized eggs online from websites such as eBay, Craigslist, or browse chicken keeping forums. Again, always buy from sellers with a good reputation. If you’re unsure of what chicken breed is right for you, have a read of ourChicken Breed Guide to find your perfect fit!
Regardless of whether you obtain your eggs from a breeder, farmer, or via an online community, if you can, opt for a local breeder or farmer over having your eggs shipped to you. This is because shipped eggs have reduced hatch rates. This is mainly due to conditions such as excessive shaking/poor handling or the temperature they have travelled at.
What do I need?
Hatching eggs doesn’t have to be complicated! If you’re new to the incubation process, it might initially seem a little daunting trying to work out how you can take your eggs to baby chicks! Fortunately, Omlet has everything you need to guide you on along the hatching process. Other than of course fertile eggs, you’ll only need an egg carton, water, and most importantly an egg incubator to begin.
Asmaller chicken egg incubator like the Brinsea Mini II Advance is ideal for beginners. It can hatch up to 7 chicken eggs and is fitted with a digital alarm and countdown to hatch day system.
If you’re looking to hatch more eggs, theBrinsea Ovation 28 EX incubator is great, with space for up to 28 chicken eggs, along with a range of advanced features like automatic egg turning and an incubator temperature alarm. The egg incubator also has an automatic humidity control feature, and with two of the leading causes of hatching failure being incorrect temperature and humidity levels, it’s helpful to be able to keep track of this. The optimal temperature for hatching chicks is 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit, but for a more in-depth guide on what temperature and humidity levels should be throughout the process, take a look at ourStep by Step Guide to Hatching Chicks blog, which will take you through a daily routine towards hatching eggs.
How long will it take?
The incubation period for chicken eggs is usually 21 days. This being said, some eggs may hatch slightly before or after this period. Approximately between 25-50% of eggs, however, might not make it to hatch day for various reasons. Some are due to the incubation process, while others are out of your control. For example, a genetic problem with the embryo.
Alternatively, you can let a hen do the work and put fertilized eggs under a broody hen. However, if that’s not possible for you, hatching artificially is a great option!
What happens when the eggs are hatched?
It’s day 21 and the big hatch day has arrived! The first sign of hatching you’ll notice is known as pipping. This is when your chick will break a small hole in its shell. The next stage is called zipping! During this stage, your chick will start turning inside its shell, before making a full breakthrough! At this time, keep a close eye on your eggs, as the zipping process can be as quick as 30 minutes!
As previously mentioned, however, some eggs take a bit longer to make an appearance than others. Therefore, you should avoid removing any chicks that have already hatched from their incubator too soon. This could hugely disturb the environment for any other remaining eggs that are left hatch. You should wait up to 12 hours before considering assisting with hatching as a last resort. Chicks can go 3 days without food or water, so do not be in a rush to help with hatching, therefore disturbing your chicks, if this is not completely necessary. Before you then go on to remove any remaining eggs inside the incubator that have not hatched, wait until day 25 just to be safe.
Before deciding on hatching eggs, it’s a good idea to know what your plan is should the result be a male chick/s. In the world of egg production, male baby chicks are considered a by-product of the industry. They are, in many circumstances, therefore discarded at an early stage of their lives.
Ultimately, many chicken keepers decide on keeping only female chickens, or hens. This is because cockerels, which you might have heard being called roosters, can have their downsides. For one, they don’t produce eggs! However, this doesn’t mean a cockerel won’t fit into your life perfectly, depending on why you want to keep chickens. Have a read of our guideEverything You Need To Know About Keeping Roosters, which will help you to decide on whether one of these beautiful birds is right for you.
Something worth noting here is that it can be difficult to sex chicks until they are slightly older. It’s not usually until between weeks 5-9 when they’ll start showing these determining differences. For more information on this subject, read our blog How to Tell a Cockerel From a Hen.
If you decide that having male chickens is not for you, then you do have the option to sell them. Just because a male chicken might not be rightfor you, they might be for someone else. Asking around on websites such as Craigslist or Facebook is a good place to begin.
Now, we all know how cute baby chicks are! However, let’s not forget that after you hatch chicken eggs, these fluffy yellow birds will soon of course be fully grown chickens. Once your chicks are adults, Omlet has just what you need to provide your birds with the best life they can have! Keep them happy and healthy with a range ofOmlet chicken keeping products including theOmlet Eglu Chicken Coop which hens can move into from 12 weeks old!
You can buy chickens when they are still chicks, or you can choose ‘point of lay’ hens (also known as started pullets). These are ready-to-go birds that are about to begin laying eggs, and they offer the easiest entry into the wonderful world of chicken keeping.
If you choose to buy chicks or hatch fertilized eggs laid by your own hens, you will have to care for the young birds for the five months before they start laying. They are extremely cute but delicate little things, and easy prey for cats, rats and other creatures that wouldn’t attempt to attack a full sized hen. You will also need to keep them warm, which means investing in special equipment.
So, if you are simply keeping chickens for fresh eggs, you should start with adult birds rather than chicks.
Why buying point-of-lay hens?
This is the entry point for most people who are new to keeping chickens. By checking availability in your local area, you will be able to source birds close to home. The advantages of choosing these older birds pretty much outweigh all other options, and the only reason you would opt for buying or hatching chicks is if you want to look after small birds. For many people, this is a very rewarding activity, but for someone who just wants to look after laying hens, started pullets are the way forward.
Why keeping ex-barn hens?
Another great way to stock your coop is with rescued chickens. Intensively reared hens kept in barns are judged to be past their prime after a year and a half, even though they still have a good 18 months of laying ahead of them. For the majority, this is the end of the road. However, charities such as the Animal Place in California relocate these hens and give them new homes.
All ex-barn hens have great charm and personality. They tend to look rather bedraggled and sad when first rescued from their imprisonment, but with a bit of TLC they will blossom as impressively as the Ugly Duckling!
What do I need to know about buying chicks?
You need to be sure that you buy baby hens and not cockerels. There are no external clues as to what sex a chick is, and any stock sold sight unseen (or ‘straight run’) will be a 50/50 mix of male and female birds. You need the chickens to be sexed to ensure you get hens. If this is not possible, wait for started pullets to become available.
Chicks need special accommodation for the first few weeks, and they can’t simply be kept in a standard coop and run. You can buy brooder boxes to keep them, or you can improvise one using a cardboard box or plastic bin with holes in the side. The important thing is to keep the birds warm and protect them from drafts while ensuring good ventilation.
After transferring your chicks to their brooder, pay close attention to how they behave. If they’re crowded together directly under or adjacent to the heat source, they’re cold. Lower the heat source closer to them or add another. If, on the other hand, they shy away from it, they’re too hot. In this case, the heater or bulb will need to be moved further away.
What do I need to know about chicken brooders?
You will need to provide 6 square inches (39 square cm) per chick in the brooder. Once they are five weeks old they can be moved to a coop and run, where they will need at least two square feet (0.19 square meters) per bird. You can buy brooder boxes to keep chicks in, or can make one yourself using a cardboard box or plastic bin with holes in the side. The important thing is to keep the birds warm and protect them from drafts, while ensuring good ventilation.
The chicks need to be kept in a temperature of 35C (95F) in their first week. The heat should be reduced slightly each week until you’ve reached room temperature. A heater designed for coops and aviaries is the best option. A red heat bulb is another option (not a white one – these produce glare that keeps chicks awake at night and tends to make them irritable and prone to pecking). Standard light bulbs will not do the job.
Very young chicks will need to have their water changed at least twice a day, as they have the ability of turning all liquids to messy soups within a few hours! They also need their bedding changed at least once a week. A chicken wire covering for the top of the brooder is recommended, too. Chicks can easily ‘fly the nest’ if the sides of the brooder are less than 1’5″ high.
Chicks can spend a little time outdoors when they’ve reached two weeks. A large wire cage or some other type of portable enclosure can be placed outside for a few hours a day – but only if it’s at least 18C (65F) and not too windy, and dry. The birds will need food, water and shade, and shouldn’t be left alone for very long. Predators are everywhere when you’re a small chick!
Once they’ve reached four to five weeks, the chicks can be moved permanently into the outdoor chicken run.
Do I want to breed my own chickens?
Another way of keeping chickens is to keep the flock refreshed by hatching eggs from their own chickens. The easiest way of raising chickens is to let nature take its course. All you have to do is provide a nest box for a broody hen. She will provide the right conditions for hatching eggs (although she will not be able to cope with more than a dozen at a time, or fewer with smaller breeds), warming and turning them as necessary. An incubator is the alternative hatching method.
A cockerel will do everything in his power to tread the hens in his flock and fertilize the eggs. If a chicken is broody, she will then sit on the eggs for 21 days (the incubation period), and with a bit of luck these eggs will then hatch.
Rearing chicks is a great hobby, but you need to be dedicated to the job. If all you want is fresh eggs and a flock of healthy and happy adult chickens wait for point-of-lay birds to become available. Also, contacting a local hatchery for more information is always a good move.
As long as your chickens are laying, you can hatch and incubate chicks all year round. However, traditionally the most popular time to breed your own chickens is in the spring. Hatching and rearing your own chicks from eggs is an incredibly exciting and rewarding process. There is nothing better than seeing your tiny chicks grow up in the knowledge that they are getting the best possible life from start to finish.The incubation period for chicken eggs is usually 21 days. The most reliable way to incubate your fertilised eggs and maximise the chance that they will hatch into healthy chicks is to use an artificial incubator. Here’s our step-by-step guide to hatching chicks:
1. Long Term Plan
Before the hatching starts, you will need to have a plan in place as to what you are going to do with the chickens once they hatch. It is a safe estimate that 25-50% of eggs will not hatch due to either not being fertilized or due to some mishaps during incubation. Among those which will hatch, approximately 50% will be cockerels and 50% will be hens. Everybody wants hens and hardly anyone needs cockerels, so there is a question of what to do with the latter. In many breeds, cockerels do not tolerate each other and they will fight vigorously unless they are completely separated.
First of all, you need to be as sure as it is reasonably possible that the eggs are fertilized, so getting them from a good breeder / farmer is crucial. Eggs of some breeds are quite expensive, so every egg that will not hatch costs you money. A breeder can never give you a 100% guarantee that the egg is fertilized, but an experienced one can be quite confident they are.
The eggs should not have any deformations or bear any other visible defects. Any cracks in the eggshells are a no-go. Any defect of the eggshell might result in the chick having difficulty in hatching, being deformed, or not developing at all.
Once you have the eggs, it is a good practice to wash them with an egg disinfectant. Eggs are porous and the embryos get oxygen and water through their eggshells. If there are any toxins or bacteria on the eggshells, that might endanger the embryos.
3. Keep a Diary
It is a really good idea to keep a diary of hatching. This includes numbering the eggs and keeping a daily record of each eggs weight. A developing egg will gradually lose weight in its 21 days of incubation. It will lose about 10-15% of its original weight over time. When the egg in the incubator is not losing weight it usually means it is not developing.
Choose your incubator carefully. Some incubators, such as the Brinsea Mini II Incubator have an Auto-turn mechanism built-in. Auto-turn saves you a lot of time and effort. Every egg during the incubation time needs to be turned every 90 minutes in order for the embryo to be positioned perfectly in the egg. A broody hen naturally turns all the eggs she is sitting on as she moves around the nest, so the turning simulates what naturally happens when a hen takes care after eggs. If the incubator does not have the Auto-turn option, you will need to turn the eggs manually. It is therefore a good practice to mark all eggs with a non-toxic marker just to be sure that every egg is being turned every time you visit them.
A good incubator will be able to keep a steady temperature within. One that we recommend is the Brinsea Mini II Incubator. The optimal temperature for hatching chicks is 37.5 degrees Celsius. A good incubator will set its alarm off if the temperature within drops below or rises above a certain threshold. Temperature in the room where the incubator is placed is crucial here, as it heavily influences the temperature in the incubator. You will be opening the incubator during routine controls of the eggs, so it is really important the eggs don’t get a temperature shock in the process – such a shock might kill the fetuses. We advise keeping a steady temperature of approx. 25 degrees Celsius in the room with the incubator. The room should also be draft free.
A good incubator will be able to provide a good humidity inside. Optimal humidity for the eggs during hatching is around 40-50% but needs to be increased on Day 19 in order to soften the eggshells and help the chicks to hatch out. With some Incubators such as the Brinsea II Mini Incubator, there are two water containers inside. Fill one up every day, and fill both of them from Day 19 onward. You can fill up the water container in the Brinsea without the need to open it which is very useful, since you generally don’t want to open the incubator too often. It is perfectly normal that some condensation starts to build up in the incubator after a few days due to high humidity.
5. Daily routine
Day 7 is an important threshold. First of all, you need to start cooling the eggs for half an hour a day. It’s best to do this around the same time each day. A good incubator has a fan and you can set an automatic cooling time. If not, you need to cool the eggs down manually by taking them out of the incubator. The cooling temperature should not be shockingly different – a difference of 2 to 5 degrees Celsius will do.
Developing eggs keep their own temperature when exposed. That is how a hen tells the difference between a developing and a dead egg. When the hen gets off the nest to eat and drink, the dead eggs will go cold almost instantaneously. The hen will then get rid of the dead eggs from the nest.
You also need to start candling the eggs on Day 7 at the latest. Candling will show you which eggs are developing and which are not. If an egg does not show any signs of development on Day 7, it will not hatch. It is essential to take out any eggs which stop developing as they will start to decompose if left in the incubator. From Day 7 onward you should continue candling on a regular basis. It’s not necessary to do it every day, as you won’t see any significant progress on day-to-day basis, but it is a good practice to do it every third or fourth day. Weighing and candling combined are usually good indicators if the egg is developing or not.
From Day 7 up to Day 19 tasks should continue in a routine manner: daily cooling, weighing, and occasional candling.
Day 19 marks the next important stage. You need to stop turning the eggs and cooling them, and lay out a hatching mat in the incubator (so the chicks won’t slip on the incubator’s surface on their first day of life). You also need to increase the humidity inside up to at least 65%. When using the Brinsea Mini II Incubator you can achieve this by filling up the second water container inside.
At some point during that period the eggs will start wiggling: the chicks will be moving around the egg to position themselves perfectly to hatch out. You might feel the temptation to check on the eggs often, but at this time it is best to leave them be and inspect the eggs every 6 hours or so.
Around Day 20 the chicks should peck out a small hole in their eggshells to catch their first breath of fresh air. It’s best to leave them be. Do not help them by making the hole bigger or breaking the shell apart. They will do it themselves in their own time. In that time they will also consume all the nutrients in their eggshells, so it is vital for them to stay inside for the time being.
Most of the chicken breeds hatch on Day 21 with only a handful of breeds hatching on Day 20 or 22. Do not help the chicks in hatching, they should be able to do it themselves – it’s their first test of strength. Only give a helping hand when a chick is really late (in comparison with its companions in the incubator) and/or the eggshell is really thick and the chick is evidently struggling to get out for a prolonged period of time.
Once the chicks hatch out, leave them in the incubator for another 24 hours. They should be well fed having eaten all the nutrients from their eggs. Apart from that, the incubator provides them with the optimal temperature and humidity.
Now watch our eggcellent egg hatching video to see how easy it is to hatch chicks!