How long does it take a chicken egg to hatch?
If you're new to keeping chickens, or if you're thinking about starting a flock, then you'll no doubt want to find out everything you can about these amazing creatures. Not only will a flock of chickens supply you with gorgeously fresh eggs, but you will also have the opportunity to taste what real chicken tastes like, depending of course on your reasons for keeping chickens in the first place. A common misconception between people is that you need a rooster in order to get eggs, but of course this is simply not true. You only need a rooster if you want fertilized chicken eggs.
Can you tell if an egg is fertile?
Yes, but only if you break it open. People who are in the habit of hatching fertilized chicken eggs will usually pick one or two eggs at random and then break them open carefully so that they can inspect the yolks. With an infertile egg, you'll notice a small white/grey dot somewhere on the yolk, but with a fertile egg, there will be a darkish circle around the dot, which to a great extent resembles a bull's eye. By checking a few eggs, you can get a reasonably good idea as to whether or not most of your chicken eggs are fertile.
Candling fertile chicken eggs during incubation
Once fertilized chicken eggs have been under a brooding hen or in an incubator for a period of about three or four days, you can candle the eggs to see if they've started developing. To do this, you can use the cardboard role that you find in the center of toilet tissue. Simply place the egg on one end and then shine a powerful light in through the other end. Of course this needs to be done in a dark room or in a closet in order for you to see anything. If the eggs are in fact developing, you should at this point begin to see veining, and if you candle the eggs later on in their development you'll even be able to see the baby chicken forming inside the egg. If by day seven you don't see any signs of development, you should consider throwing the eggs out, particularly if you're using an incubator. Eggs that don't develop can explode if you leave them in the incubator, and not only do they make a terrible mess, but the smell is unbearable as well.
Most people who keep chickens want a rooster so that they can get fertilized chicken eggs to hatch, and you can be rest assured that once you've had your first batch of eggs hatch, you'll to be thoroughly hooked. So, how long does it take for fertilized chicken eggs to hatch? The answer to that is 21 days exactly, although you need to bear in mind that this can vary, depending on a number of circumstances. Generally speaking however, fertile chicken eggs which are hatched out by a hen will take 21 days before you see little faces staring at you from underneath their mamma's wings.
If on the other hand you use an incubator in order to hatch fertilized chicken eggs, they can sometimes hatch a day or two early, or they can also hatch out a few days late. Things like humidity and temperature play a significant role. For example, if the temperature is even a little bit higher than what it should be, you will sometimes have eggs starting to hatch on day nineteen or on day twenty. If for some reason the temperature has dropped below the correct temperature on a few occasions, you could find some of your eggs only hatching on day 22, 23, or even on day 24 or 25.
Whereas fertilized chicken eggs usually take exactly 21 days to hatch, most duck eggs take 28 days, apart from Muscovy ducks. As a general rule of thumb, the eggs of Muscovy ducks take 35 days, but once again, it can vary slightly depending on conditions.
Hatching out fertilized chicken eggs can be extremely rewarding, and the biggest problem flock owners tend to have is that they end up with far more chickens than they had originally planned to have.