Picture of Hatching Chicken Eggs Naturally
i'll show you how to improve the success of a natural chicken brood,
there's much you can do, to support your mother hen and to make sure that your chicks hatch safely and grow up to strong hens and roosters!

Of course there are many ways for hatching chicks, and this is only a guide to Improve your hatching result and help the chicks grow up, healthy and strong!

good luck!

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: What breeds are born mothers?

Picture of what breeds are born mothers?
not all breed are good for hatching,
most breeds have lost the instinct and will not sit on eggs.
The hen you will follow in this instructable, is a wild mix between different breeds but did her job very good :)

good breeds are:

Brahma  - brilliant mothers and a big plus is there size, place for up to 20 eggs!
Silkie - also brilliant mothers but not that much space - good for small coops

of course there are others, but i really recommend this breeds.

Step 2: Place fake-eggs in a nest and wait

Picture of place fake-eggs in a nest and wait
Place about 5 fake eggs ( for example pottery or rubber eggs) in a normal nest in you chicken coop.

WAIT! until one of your precious hens decides to be a mommy :)

you can be sure, that you have a broody hen when she:
- ruffles her feathers
- makes noises that remind of water in a bottle ( "glug glug")
- leaves the nest only for a few minutes a day and returns to the eggs very fast
- gets angry when you come near her ( she picks)

Step 3: Prepare a separate nest for the becoming mother

Picture of prepare a separate nest for the becoming mother
It's time to move your hen mother,

prepare a separate nest, there she can sit undisturbed of the other chickens in your coop.
- the other chicken may lay eggs in the brood-nest and you have always eggs in a different phase - that means some chicks will die.
- the other hens or the rooster may disturb and distract her and she will leaves the eggs, and stops to brood.
- the other chicken may kill your new hatched chicks

the requierements for this nest are:

- comfortable, fill it with straw
- separate from all other chickens, to avoid disturbing and distraction
- dark
- silent
- safe from predators

wait for the night or darken your coop.
Why? - chicken can't see very well when it's dark and will remain calm and unaffected.

take the fake eggs from your hen and put them into the "new" nest.
now carefully lift her up and carry her to the new nest.
close the opening of the nest with a towel or something

now wait for 2 or 3 days, until you are sure that she remains on the nest.
offer her water and wheat every day(!)  but she won't eat that much.

Step 4: The real eggs

Picture of the real eggs
time for real fertilized eggs.
if you have a good rooster you can use your own eggs
other possibilities are:
- exchange with other chicken owners
- buy fertilized eggs online

Your hen will accept every kind of egg, every breed.

choose eggs:
- without cracks
- normal sized - No extrem big ones and no extrem small ones ( depends on the breed)

wait for the night or darken your coop, remove the fake eggs and replace the carefully with the real ones.
From now on it takes 21 days until the chicks will hatch!!! - mark it in your calendar

if you have eggs of different breeds you may mark them with a pencil.

Step 5: Every day procedure

Now you have to support your lady!

the hen will be in "trance" she won't leave the nest, won't eat, won't drink.....
The eggs need ventilation every day, for hightest success rate.

If she won't leave the nest by herself:
simply lift her up and set her on the floor of your coop, she may need a little poke to wake up :)

now she needs to:
-eat (give her whole wheat, she needs lots of protein, don't feed her vegetables, she could get diarrhea- not good for eggs)
- take a dirtbath (against parasites)
- small stones that help to break up the wheat ( i have them in the dirtbath)
- and most important:
she needs to poo! :D - you'll recognize the poo of her - it'll smell extraterrestrial and will be huge :)

make sure your hen doesn't stay much longer than 20-30 minutes from the nest! most hens will return by themselfes.
If it's very hot it's ok with 40 minutes.

proceed until day 19!

Step 6: Candling Eggs

Picture of Candling Eggs
after 7 days it's time for candling the eggs.
you'll need

an egg carton
a strong flashlight
a pencil
a really dark room

while the hen is away from the nest, take all eggs carefully and lay them into the egg carton.
carry them to your dark room and light through the eggs (like shown below)
my camera is not good enough so click on this link to see what we are looking after.

In a fertilzed egg you should see a small dark point with smal spiderweb- lines around.

mark all eggs if they are fertilized or unclear and out them back into the carton.
lay them back into the nest and repeat this step in abaout 3 or 4 days, if the unclear eggs still show nothing, discard them, don't worry, there's no life in there! ( if you have a dog you know what to do :D )
why discard? - the unfertilized eggs can rot and the gases/or moisture can kill the unhatched chicks around.

Sure you can choose to candling the eggs every day, but i think it's quite risky to move the eggs more than neccessary.

Step 7: Supplys

Picture of supplys
it's time to buy some supplys for your soon to be hatched chicks:
- special chick food (much protein)
- a special chick drinker  NO BOWLS - the chick can drown in no time.
- carrots
- cottage cheese
- oatmeal
- oregano (dried)
- garlic and onions

also you can:
-collect and dry nettles - very good start food for chicks
-catch some fish - perfect protein!

Step 8: Day 14 -candling one more time

Picture of Day 14 -candling one more time
on day 14 you can candling the eggs ione more time,

noq you'll see, that they are almost black - the chick fills the whole egg.

Step 9: Day 19!

Picture of Day 19!
two days remaining,

leave the broody hen alone - she doesn't need you anymore :)

Step 10: Day 21!

Picture of day 21!

Hatching day!

don't disturb the hen, she has to remain calm and takes care about the hatching chicks!

you may sit beside the nest and listen to the chicks :)
maybe you can peek through the curtain.

the hen will leave the nest (and all remaining unhatched eggs) after 2-3 days.

UPDATE:  There's one thing i forgot, NEVER try to help a chick out of the shell - you may kill it, there are blood vessels on the inside of the shell, that can get hurt and the poor chick dies by loss of blood.
after the hen left the nest you can open the remaining eggs, but if you do that, you should be able to kill a too weak or disabled chick.
the best thing to do, is to leave it up to nature, as hard as it sounds!

Step 11: Taking care of the chicks

Picture of taking care of the chicks
now you come in again,
feed the chicks every day with a mix of:

chicks food - the bowl should never run out!
from week 3 you can also add some whole wheat.

a protein source such as:
-cottage cheese
-boiled eggs
-cooked fish

and very important de-worming stuff such as:

crated carrots

Why the deworming stuff? - the chicks can die very quickly on Coccidi, in their first 6-8 weeks of life.

 for 4 chicks i give every day:
as much chicks-food as desired,
1 crated carrot
2 tablespoons oregano
3 tablespoon cottage cheese,
3 cloves of garlic,
and about 4 tablespoons of oatmeal
1 tablespoon nettles (dried)

increase with the size of the chicks

NOTE: in the first 2 weeks cut everything in VERY small pieces to prevent the chicks from suffocation.

Go on with this diet until they are 6-8 weeks, and you'll end up with healthy strong chicks :)

The chicks need access to small stones that help breaking up the food!

clean up the coop every day.

Step 12: Exploring the nature :)

Picture of exploring the nature :)

after one week your chicks are ready to go outside - with their mom of course!!!
I rekommend you build a chicks- yard with small chicks-mesh, and mesh above ( shilds against magpies, cats and all other predators that want to eat your precious chicks.

when the chicks are 6 to 8 weeks old you can introduce them to your other chicks and they may walk together in the yard.
their are now strong enough.

I hope you found that instructable useful!

We have a black hen who laid 18-20 eggs obe hatched and my dad said she doesnt want to sit on the rest of the other eggs and that its taking too long to hatch. He wants to cook the rest of the eggs that wont hatch yet and im wondering how long it takes and what can i do to help them hatch???? Please help i do not want my dad to cook them :(
gabe yoo1 year ago
my chicken is making sounds like somebody slurping from a straw. Is that a sign of broody? :D
Mimikry (author)  gabe yoo1 year ago
Oh yes :)
Wait 20 days and some chicks are all over the coop ;)
gabe yoo1 year ago
gabe yoo1 year ago
Is a pollito a good chicken breed
sseddon1 year ago
What a fantastic post! Just started chicken keeping as a hobby - now have 6 silkies, 2 polish and 4 orpingtons plus have a broody mummy hen sitting on 5 eggs.....it's day 21 today "chick cam" is on 24/7 and its so exciting. Your food recipe for chicks is something I am going to try, will pick and start to dry nettles today.
AriedeB2 years ago
This is a great instructable!
zappa1233 years ago
My black hen has been sitting on donated fertilised eggs for 21 days today. She is outside under a bush and it has been raining constantly for 2 days now. I feel so sorry for her as its quite cold to for the time of year. Should I put her and the eggs into the coop or bring them into the house or just wait and see what happens. I am literally having nightmares! Should I just let nature take its course, will the eggs hatch under her, or should I intervene? I only got the 2 chickens last Aug and she only started laying in April. Please help,
Mimikry (author)  zappa1233 years ago
Hej zappa,

don't do anything right now, if it's the 21th day by now, you should not interrupt her at all. The chicks should hatch any minute now.
only thing you could do, is to protect her from rain.

also a good thing to do, is to build a provisional fence or something around her, without disturbing her to much.
2 reasons: 1 to protect the chicks from magpies
and 2, it's easier to catch her and the chicks, to get them in the coop, once they hatched ( wait until the hen raises and leaves the nest).

there is one more solution - don't do anything and let the hen do the job and hope for blind magpies... but i think you'll loose some chicks that way.

Good luck to you and your becoming mother :)
Ramgad3 years ago
Excellent instructable! Thanks
22tpring3 years ago
THANK YOU so much for a fine instructable. I've read many an article in Countryside and Mother Earth News but yours really made it real. Getting ready to feather my own nest and want organic eggs for myself and the young ones - excellent!
Mimikry (author)  22tpring3 years ago
Thanks for your appreciation :)

The only downside of hatching chicken are the roosters you have to...
---- you know :(
it looked like someone was about to have chicken for dinner didnt it
Mimikry (author)  softballch1k993 years ago
That part comes WAAAAAAY later :D
Caulerpa3 years ago
This instructable was wonderful! I've got a dream to someday raise chickens. I like how you explained why you should take every measure you do.
Mimikry (author)  Caulerpa3 years ago
chicken are fun - go for it!
Uptonb3 years ago
Good luck on the Pets Challenge.
Mimikry (author)  Uptonb3 years ago
thank you!
i enjoyed your cat-tree house i'ble!
i've built almost the same 5 years ago - much sturdier and prettier than the stuff you can buy in stores!

keep up the good work!
bajablue3 years ago
Congrats on making the finals! Fingers crossed for you!!!
Thank you!
Mimikry (author)  pedofieltje_1113 years ago
your nickname is a strange choice, don't you think???
ZyZZyvette4 years ago
Aha, not being a farmer I was a little concerned when I saw the photo for this step... ;)
bajablue4 years ago
This is a GREAT instructable! 5 Stars and my vote!!!
Mimikry (author)  bajablue4 years ago
Thank you very much :)
jany4 years ago
I have always had great results with the silkies. They are natural born mamas.
Mirime jany4 years ago
Also some of the banties are great moms we had on hen that was about 2-3 pounds that had, in one brood 23 chicks out of 28 eggs. How she covered them all we don't know but sh,e did it all by her self. Also Black Spanish Turkeys are very good broodies, Moms pet one always sets in mid May and won't leave untill mid aug. She steals the bad eggs but she trys, gotta give her points for the effort.
Mimikry (author)  jany4 years ago
yeah no breed beats silkies or brahmas in all that mommy-stuff :D

but the one shown in the instructable really surprised me - never thought that she would get broody at all.

shes a wild mix between different breeds, maybe there's a silkie in it somehow - she got real nice feathers.

the chicks from this Instructable are now almost 4 weeks and all healthy :)
it's a breed called "Iceland-chicken", the next im going to hatch are "Faverolles" (very handsome and bearded) and "easter egger" (the ones with green eggs :D )
Mirime4 years ago
The second pic is a very common one at our farm in the spring and summer. that evil glare.....(shudders)
Really nice work. I've ben keeping a few backyard hens for the past 4 years. We started with some hybrids, which unfortunately got eaten by a fox.
We now have 2 Buff Opingtons, a Welsummer and a Blue Belle. I think the Opingtons will make good brooders as they're lovely large birds and well feathered.
I have build an incubator, but might give the natural approach a try too when I have the opportunity.
Thanks for the clear advice on how to do this.
Mimikry (author) 4 years ago
thank you all :)

i Updated day 21 in the instructable - i forgot something very important

right now i have the next broody hen this year - a brahma :)
in about 3 weeks hopefully loads of fluffy chicks :D
sunshiine4 years ago
What a great ible! Thanks for sharing your hard work! Chickens can be such a fun experience!
ChrysN4 years ago
They are so cute! Great instructable.