Hatching eggs can be a fun and rewarding experience, whether you’re a first-time chicken keeper looking to add a few hens to your backyard flock or a seasoned breeder looking to expand your flock.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about hatching Rhode Island Red eggs, including how to incubate and care for them, what to expect in terms of hatch rate and chick survival, and how to properly handle your chicks after they hatch.
Table of Contents
Overview of Rhode Island Red Chickens
Ah, the these chickens! If you’re interested in raising chickens, this iconic breed is a great place to start. They’re productive—producing large brown or tinted eggs—resilient, and hardy enough for both cold and hot temperatures. And, the chickens themselves are deep-bodied and have an upright stance that makes them prime candidates for free-range farming.
But before you get to the point of collecting eggs from your own hens, you’ll need to hatch your Rhode Island Reds. Fortunately, they’re relatively easy to incubate—and even beginners can find success should they pay careful attention to the process. So if you’re considering adding RI Reds to your backyard farm, get ready to acquaint yourself with temperature, humidity, ventilation and more!
How to Identify Fertile Eggs
So you’re thinking about hatching Rhode Island Red eggs, and the first step is to make sure they’re fertile. You can do this quickly by candle testing the egg. To do this, you need a candle, a flashlight, and a comfortable spot for candling your egg.
When you’re ready to begin, hold the egg close to the flame of the candle, so that it’s illuminated by the light. You should then be able to tell whether or not it is fertile just by looking at it. A fertile egg will have a small dark mass inside that looks like spider webbing—this is the embryo. An infertile egg will be clear on the inside and look just like any regular egg would.
Once you’ve identified your eggs are fertile, it’s time to start purchasing your incubator!
Tips on Incubation and Temperature Control
Hatching eggs is simple with the right knowledge, and temperature control is key. Incubators can come with a built-in thermometer, but it’s always nice to have a backup. It’s important to keep an eye on the temperature and adjust, if necessary.
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of hatching eggs:
- Set your incubator temperature between 33-39 degrees and humidity around 50-55 percent for successful hatching.
- Check the thermometer and hygrometer at least twice daily to ensure accuracy and adjust accordingly.
- Add a fan to give the air circulation in your incubator for better egg development.
- Keep humidity levels at the optimal level by adding water as needed (about once or twice a day).
- If using an older model incubator, check the wiring regularly for any potential issues that could cause disruption in temperature control or other problems down the line.
- Make sure to rotate your eggs if you’re not using automatic turning mechanisms; this helps ensure that they get enough oxygen throughout their development process and are evenly heated on all sides of their shells so they hatch successfully!
How Long Do Rhode Island Red Eggs Take to Hatch?
You might be wondering how long it takes for the eggs to hatch. The time frame is largely dependent on the incubator you use, but the average waiting period is 21 days.
Temperature & Humidity is Everything
The temperature and humidity in your incubator will be the biggest factors determining how long you wait for those eggs to hatch. The ideal temperature range to incubate should be 37-38 degrees Celcius or 98-100 degrees Fahrenheit, and your humidity should be around 45-55 percent.
When you crack open a hatched egg, you should see a tiny yellow fluff ball inside with a fully developed body and comb. If the egg has not hatched, there will still be yolk sacs visible inside. You’ll want to discard those eggs, so they don’t interfere with the hatching process of the other eggs.
To ensure that the Eggs are hatching properly and safely, it’s important to check on them regularly—at least once a day—to make sure that temperatures and humidity levels remain consistent throughout the process!
What Do I Need to Know About Candling the Eggs?
When hatching Rhode Island Red eggs, you’ll want to take candling the eggs seriously. This process involves using a bright light to shine through the eggshell and check on the progress of the embryo. You will be able to see changes in the air cell, veins and other internal structures as it grows.
It’s important to candle eggs on a regular basis, typically at 7 days and 14 days after incubation starts. This can help you determine whether they are developing correctly or if they should be removed from the incubator.
Candling also helps assess fertility so that you have an idea of how many chicks will actually hatch. To candle:
- Gently remove an egg from your incubator
- Hold it up against a bright light source – LED lamps are best for this
- Shine a light through the egg, carefully observing its interior for signs of life
- Return the egg to its original position in the incubator afterwards
If candling reveals that an egg isn’t developing correctly, then it should be disposed of immediately—otherwise, it may infect other eggs or create a nasty mess inside your incubator! Candling is also one of the best ways to determine when the eggs are ready for hatching—so make sure that you do it regularly throughout incubation!
After the Chicks Hatch: Care Tips
Once the chicks have hatched, they will need some care and guidance to keep them growing strong and healthy. Here are a few tips for caring for your newly-hatched chicks:
Chicks will need to be fed a high-quality starter feed for their first 4-8 weeks; after that, you can switch to growers chicken feed. Make sure to provide constant access to feed throughout the day.
For the first few weeks of life, you’ll want to keep your chicks in an area with a temperature of 95ºF (35ºC). Then, you can gradually lower the temperature by 5°F (2°C) each week until the room is around 70°F (21°C). You’ll also want to provide plenty of space and clean bedding for your little guys!
It’s important to let your chicks have time outside their coop each day. This will give them exercise—which is key both for physical growth and mental stimulation—and they’ll get some sunshine while they’re at it!
Taking care of young chicks isn’t hard—just follow these basic guidelines and you’re sure to have happy, healthy birds.