One of the many exciting things about spring on the homestead is baby chicks! Flipping through the poultry catalogs trying to choose the best chicken breeds is fun. And going to the feed store this time of year has us praying, “Lord, lead us not into temptation,” with every step. But at some point, we all want to try our hand at hatching eggs and witnessing the miracle of the birth of a baby chick. It didn’t take me but one hatching to learn I was going to need an Incubation Chart to make hatching eggs easier.
When I first tried incubating chicken eggs, I kept forgetting when the chicks were “due” and had to keep looking up the date we started hatching. I would forget to turn the eggs.
Or if I wasn’t sure which side was up at the last turn, I was grilling all the kids to see if they had already turned them. I wasn’t sure which date I was supposed to stop turning them and had to calculate it again and again.
Things like these make keeping homestead records a real sanity saver for me! Do it once, keep a record and then don’t worry about having to remember everything! I knew my Homestead Binder needed an Incubation Chart!
I added a Poultry Incubation Chart to the templates for my homesteading binder which is a useful tool to help with hatching the eggs of chickens, turkeys, geese, quail, and ducks and thought I’d share it with you for free!
For me, the most difficult part of incubating eggs (besides the children fidgeting with the thermostat) is keeping track of whether the eggs have been turned or not. Once I made the chart, things went much more smoothly the next time.
The only thing that could make it easier is if you had an incubator with an automatic turner. (Then you just need to remember when to stop turning the eggs.) We have since bought one an R-Com incubator and have been very pleased with the results and ease of cleaning. (You can buy them directly from the manufacturer or from Amazon below.)
How to Use the Incubation Chart
To use the chart, determine the “due date” of your chicks, poults, or ducklings by looking at the “Incubation Period” reference at the bottom. Note the estimated hatch date next to the type of poultry you’ll be hatching.
- Fill in the dates beginning at the first day of incubation.
- Eggs need turning at least twice a day. But more often is better. We try to turn them 4 times a day.
- While the chart notes specific times, we turn eggs at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and right before bedtime. It’s not really important to turn them right on time. Just make sure the turns are happening several times a day.
- Make sure to use a permanent marker to make a mark on one side of the egg. That will help you to get a full turn and keep all of the eggs even.
- Stop turning the eggs the last three days before hatching. At this point, chicks are settling into a good position for hatching. That is why those days are “X’ed” out. I left a slash next to the “x” for days 20-22. If you’re hatching turkeys or ducks you will still need to turn eggs on those days.
Click here to download your printable incubation chart.