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    Home / Science lessons / Newly Hatched Chicks
    • Newly Hatched Chicks

      If you are using our chick egg incubator (BE-INCUBAT or LD-INCUBAT), you may wonder what to do when your chick hatches. It is important to follow the enclosed instructions carefully. First, don't touch the incubator right away. The chick is very weak when it first hatches and will probably lie close to the egg for about eight hours before it starts to move around. Don't try to feed it until it is completely dry and you have moved it from the incubator.

      You can use a clean cardboard box as your brooder box. Line the box with newspaper, hay, or aspen shavings (available at pet stores) and put paper towels over top for the first 5 days. The paper towels give the chicks the traction they need to develop their legs.

      Cut a slit in the corner of the box, about four inches from the bottom and about eight inches along each side. When your chicks have hatched, empty the incubator bowl and turn it upside down. With the light turned toward the center of the box, push the rim of the bowl into the slit in the corner.

      Your eggs may hatch at different times. If a chick is getting active and you need to remove it from the incubator before the others are ready, hang a 40 or 60-watt light bulb over a corner of the box to provide light and heat. (Make sure it doesn't touch the box, to avoid a fire hazard.) Another option is to set the box on top of a heating pad. As soon as you can, though, switch to the incubator so the chicks are getting light as well as heat.

      The temperature under the light should be about 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit for the first week. The rest of the box can be a little cooler. Once all the chicks have hatched, you can use the thermometer from the incubator to monitor the temperature in the box. If the chicks huddle together under the heat source, they might not be warm enough, and if they stay away from it, the box might be too hot. Adjust the distance of the light or the wattage of the bulb until the temperature is right. After the first week you can raise the light to decrease the temperature by 5 degrees per week until the chicks have their feathers (usually 4 weeks for quail).

      When transferring chicks from the incubator to the brooder, handle very carefully — do not squeeze the chick! Avoid handling them much for the first few days.

      Fill a small jar lid with fresh water, and add gravel or marbles to the water to keep the chick from drowning. Fill a small dish of food also--use a starting mash from the feed store or you can buy a chick feeding starter kit complete with dishes and feed. Place the two dishes in the corner of the box for your chicks. Always make sure that your chick has clean food and water.

      When the chicks begin to grow up and are too big to keep inside, please refer to your incubator instructions. When your chick gets too big for the house, DO NOT TURN THEM LOOSE. If you do not have the facilities to care for them, give them to a local hatchery, farm, Humane Society, feed or pet dealer. The incubator will come with complete hatching instructions and information on caring for your chicks when they hatch.

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    By: lisa moore
    Date: Aug 18, 2017

    My chick hatched last night it was chirpping and trying to walk around but now it is laying on its side unable to move ,stand or walk? Did i do something wrong is this normal? Please any help will be helpful…thank you

    By: carl ryder
    Date: May 11, 2017


    By: Cat
    Date: Apr 01, 2016

    I want to know what to do to keep the teeny ones off their backs.  I have a flock and get 1-2 eggs per day now they go into the incubator once collected with the day written on the egg in Sharpie.  I just put “1” in for April 1.  This means those started first part of March are starting to hatch.  We have the in a 1 gallon Take-along with holes in the top sitting on a heat pad lined with paper towels.  Had two hatch 1 day apart.  lost each during two successive nights.  They get on their backs and can’t get right.  They have appeared to be vigorous.  #3 was just removed from incubator just now discovered stuck upside down between the incubator turner rail and wall.  I cant sit and hold them day and night.  Suggestions?

    By: Sienna
    Date: Dec 02, 2015

    How long till you can hold your chick after hatching

    By: Shelly Baker
    Date: May 17, 2015

    I am concerned about leaving a heat lamp on when I am away from home. I am scared my house will catch on fire. What do you suggest?

    [HST Adds:  As long as the lamp is kept from touching flammable items and is not at risk for falling over, it will likely be fine.  If you have a friend or neighbor who is able to check up on the birds while you’re gone that may be a better option.  Something like a heating pad could be used in a pinch, but most of them won’t have the option to regulate the temperature.  Baby chicks are very sensitive to temperature changes in their first few weeks.  They will also need to be able to get away from the heat source if they feel too hot.  There are many discussion boards online about raising birds, and searching for one of these may bring up some more suggestions.  Hope this helps!]