So you are ready to hatch chicken eggs and want help picking out everything you need, right? Well, that’s great! Hatching eggs can be exciting and educational. And this entire post has recommendations created just for beginners.
If you don’t know what you need to start, that’s okay; we got you. You’ll be able to see the top products and helpful information about the incubating process throughout this detailed list.
When putting together this article, there was a lot to consider. After gathering information from chicken owners about these products, we also used personal experience and thorough research to bring it all together. After reviewing the supplies, you’ll get to hatch your chicks and be ready to go in no time. So gather your eggs and unruffle those feathers. You’re about to get a crash course of what items you need to hatch some chicks!
1. Manna Pro Harris Farms Nurture Right Incubator
Incubators are devices that effectively control the egg’s environment so that they hatch. As a beginner, you may want to start with a small batch of eggs until you get more experience. The Mana Pro incubator is ideal for beginners. It’s not as bulky as others and holds up to twenty-two eggs. The automatic turner is essential for the eggs because if they aren’t turned throughout the day, you can’t prevent the embryo from sticking to the shell.
The automatic turner has an automatic shut-off, so when the eggs get closer to hatching, the eggs won’t turn. This step is vital for the chicks to get into the hatching position. As a beginner you can forget this step. This incubator makes sure you don’t. The design of this incubator also allows for a full 360 view of the eggs which is perfect for hatching eggs the first time.
The airflow system supplies enough air circulation. You won’t have to disturb the warmth of the incubator by opening it several times a day to let in the air. The digital display shows the temperature and humidity levels at all times, and you can adjust it accordingly. On display, you’ll also see how many days are left till they start hatching. This is the best one for beginners and will take the guesswork out of incubating the eggs.
Egg candlers are essential to track the development of eggs for educational purposes. It can also help you to remove infertile eggs from the batch, so they don’t turn into rotten egg bombs. Some incubators include an egg kindling light built into them, but it doesn’t help as much as a flashlight-style one.
With the handheld one, you can view the top and bottom of the egg. It will better show the details that may be missed from the one-way lighting of an incubator candler. This egg candler flashlight is water resistant and made of metal which is excellent for sanitation purposes. You can disinfect the candler with alcohol wipes before and after using it on the eggs to ensure they don’t pick up any germs.
This flashlight includes a rechargeable battery and a wall charger to house it. You probably won’t need to use a candler flashlight a lot, so the battery will last long before it needs to be charged. As a bonus, this candler gives you instructions and pictures showing the embryo’s development. This can be beneficial since you’re new to hatching as it gives you good information to reference.
- Includes instructions for how to test eggs for embryo development
- Features 500 lumens of super-bright light
- Channels light into the eggs so you can monitor the embryo's development
- Includes a wall charger
- Comes with a 2-year warranty — 100% satisfaction guarantee
3. Brinsea Brooder for Chicks
After the eggs hatch, you’ll need to have a brooder set up for them to live in until they are big enough to go outside. You can make your own or buy pet cages to keep them inside. Once you have a designated area to contain the chicks and all their other essentials, you need a way to keep them warm. Some prefer heating lamps, and there are some great options.
This warmer, though, will generate heat to keep the chicks warm. However, if the chicks get too hot, they can quickly get out from under the canopy-like structure. The top height is adjustable and can grow with your chicks. It is easy to clean, which is essential because several baby chicks in one place can quickly get droppings everywhere.
This brooder warmer holds 20 chick. The best part is that it consumes significantly less energy than heating lamps. Heating lamps are also at a higher risk of causing fires. Since baby chicks can’t regulate their body temperature or be kept warm by a hen, it’s vital to have something to keep their environment warm but also keep them and your home safe!
- Warms up to 20 newly hatched chicks or ducklings
- Features a safe, 12-volt radiant-heat underside for uniform temperature and minimal power consumption
- Indicator light lets you know the unit is working
- Durable and easy to clean
- Features a natural day/night cycle to promote weight gain and feather growth
4. RentACoop Chick Feeder Waterer Kit
Of course, whenever you have living creatures, you need to feed and water them. This set is excellent for baby chicks. It’s large enough that you don’t have to add food and water as frequently, and they are easy to clean. Putting a bowl of water instead of one designed for chicks can cause several problems.
First, their water can become contaminated from the chicken bedding and droppings when the chicks get in the bowl. Secondly, they can hurt their legs slipping in the bowl, or worse; they could drown. Lastly, the bowl can be knocked over, and if you’re not home, they won’t have water access when needed.
That’s why a waterer made for chicks is essential. The feeder is just as helpful because it allows several chicks to eat at once, and they are less likely to eat something they shouldn’t like, part of their bedding, when they’re looking for a feed. Overall this is a great set that doesn’t leak and makes feeding and watering significantly easier while preventing chicks from getting sick from consuming contaminated food or water.
5. Manna Pro Organic Starter Feed
The type of feed you give chicks is essential. For young chicks, the crumbled chick feed makes it easier for them to eat. The Manna Pro starter feed is an excellent choice because it has 19% protein, which is vital in their developing stages. It’s also organic, non-GMO, and non-medicated.
With food, you want high quality with all the essential vitamins and minerals without harmful pesticides or chemicals. Experienced chicken keepers were happy with how healthy their chicks grew up with this food. The only thing you should remember when you buy this is that the date on this bag is the production date, not an expiration date.
It expires nine months after production, which is way more time than you’ll need to use it for, and you can get this in a more oversized bag if you decide to hatch a larger quantity of chicks. Some users said they hadn’t lost any chicks since switching to this food, and others said it works great for ducklings which you can hatch with most of these items on the list.
6. Small Pet Select Bedding
When it comes to the bedding, you can try to make it yourself with something like paper towels, but that will be more expensive to do. Aspen wood chips do a great job absorbing animal waste while masking the scent with a pleasant woodsy smell. Not all pet bedding is safe for chickens.
There is conflicting information about pine chips being harmful to chickens. Aspen is the go-to for chick bedding because of the price and quality. It’s essential to have the bedding in a brooder for several reasons. The first is it helps cleaning go faster because there is no scrapping involved; empty the bedding, wipe clean and add more chips.
Second, if you don’t put something in there with the chicks, they can develop leg problems. Lastly, your chicks are more likely to get dirty, and no one wants to handle bathing a dozen chicks! Small Pet Select bedding is the best one you can use. It is made from wood shavings from logs to ensure no harmful chemicals are in it, and it’s compostable.
Choosing the Best Chicken Products: Pros and Cons Compared
When choosing products to hatch and raise chicks, you will want to choose high-quality items based on your experience. Since this is for beginners, this section will target what to look for specifically for beginners and why some products are better for experienced keepers.
Incubator and Brooder Warmers
There are a few main types of incubators. Some are more hands-on, and some are significantly easier to manage. When choosing an incubator, you want one that can take care of all the needs of the eggs with as little interference from you as possible. Some features should include auto-rotation, an alarm when humidity or temperature is too high or low, and a fan for airflow.
The size of the incubator should hold up to 20 eggs. You don’t need to fill the incubator to the max capacity. After you hatch your first batch, you may want the option to hatch a more considerable amount of eggs without buying a larger incubator. With warming equipment, you should be aware of the risks and benefits of each. Heating lamps are popular for chicks but can use large amounts of electricity and be a fire hazard.
The electric warmers are adjustable for the height of your chicks through their various developmental stages and use less energy. However, they won’t be helpful for adult chickens in the winter. Though heat sources usually aren’t necessary for chickens in the cold. When choosing an electric warmer, check the capacity of the chicks it can warm. They may huddle, but one can be left out to freeze if there isn’t room for it.
Egg candlers come in three different styles: one that plugs into the wall, one with rechargeable batteries, and some that sit on a flat surface and plugs into the wall. They are built into some incubators, but like the one that sits on a flat surface, it doesn’t allow you the freedom to move the light where you need to.
You can’t turn the egg on the candler either. The best better options are the handheld ones. The rechargeable ones give you more freedom and can be easier than dealing with a wire attached to the end. With the plug-in candlers, you won’t have to worry about charging batteries.
However, you shouldn’t need to charge them often because you won’t use them for an extended period when you do use them. You’ll want to ensure that the candler is made of metal and is around 500 lumens.
Water and Feeders
Water and feeder sets can come in various sizes and shapes. How many chicks you have will determine the size. One chick will need under a cup of water per day. You won’t need more than a liter of water for eight chicks daily. You’ll want to check to see the type of plastic used and see how it fills. Impact-resistant plastic is helpful for durability, but for chicks, it won’t cause damage to a normal one.
Most waterers work like gravity dog water bowls—the bottom screws on top. After you fill it and attach the lid, you flip it upside down. This can be messy when you get it into a position. There are elevated options, but those are for adult chickens. Chicks can’t reach the elevated ones. Another type is a mini bowl that attaches to the side of the pin or a jug.
For older chickens, it works well, but often the jug is too large to use in a small brooder. The size of the feeder is also determined by how many chickens and the amount of space available. Chicks eat about one to two ounces of food a day, so for eight chicks, you’ll want one that holds around 16 ounces of food. This will allow them to empty it almost daily and give you the chance to clean it if needed, and also provide fresh food.
When feeding your chickens, you want to ensure they get the best possible nutrition. This is vital for young chicks, who need the proper nutrients to grow and thrive. When choosing an organic chicken starter feed, look for a certified organic product by a reputable organization, such as the USDA.
Also, check the ingredients to ensure that the feed does not contain synthetic additives or GMO ingredients. The best organic chicken starter feeds will include a mix of healthy grains, vitamins, and minerals to help your chicks grow into strong and healthy adults. High protein is essential to chicks and should have at least 18 percent protein.
If you’re not looking for organic, you should still be mindful of how much protein and the number of vitamins and nutrients. Shelf life is also a factor, so reading reviews to see if it expires quickly or gets mold will help narrow down the options. Chicken owners will leave comments about these issues and which ones helped their chicks thrive the best.
There are many types of chick bedding; the best choice will depend on your specific needs. Some standard options include paper, pine shavings, and aspen. Straw is a common chicken bedding that is relatively inexpensive and easy to find. However, straw can be difficult to clean up and is not as absorbent as other options.
Pine shavings are another popular choice for animal bedding. They are relatively porous and do an excellent job keeping the coop dry. However, pine shavings can be dusty and may irritate your chicken’s respiratory system. Aspen shavings are absorbent and are comfortable for the chicks to walk on. They hide the scent of chicken droppings well and make cleaning easier.
Paper bedding works like aspen but doesn’t hide the smell as well. You want to ensure you get bedding that’s low dust. Some of the products will say they are, but look at the reviews to see if it’s true. Avoid scented bedding because chicks can be sensitive to it. Buying the biggest size, you can afford will be more convenient for you and save in the long run. You’ll be using it frequently.
Verified Review: User Experience
Experienced hatchers fell in love with the Manna Pro Incubator and wished they’d used it sooner. One successful hatcher said, “I HIGHLY recommend this incubator. I’ve used 2 different incubators for 2 years prior to this one. My success rate was all over the board until this one!” he then boasts about how successful his hatches were.
The most appreciated feature was that you could add water from outside the incubator to control humidity. The Brinsea Brooder warmer makes everyone feel safer than a heating lamp, and novice hatchers found it useful. One hatcher said, “As a new backyard chicken keeper, I am beyond grateful for a safe heating implement for my brooding baby chicks that also allows for me to put them to bed at night without a bright light on them.”
They continued, “It is helpful it can be adjusted as chicks grow and even when you have different stages of development within the same brooder. Also, I like the attention to detail with the plastic covering on it for easy clean-up.” Safer and easy to use? Yes, please! These products all had excellent reviews, but this helps show you just how beginner-friendly they are!
- 25 Best Chicken Breeds and How to Choose the One for You
- Male vs Female Chicken: The Key Differences
- The Best Vitamins for Chickens: Happy and Healthy in 2022
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Tutye
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How long do chicks need to stay on the starter feed?
Your baby chickens need starter feed for their immune system to develop and be supported. Complete proteins, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals should all be included in a nutritious beginning diet. Your chicks should consume starter feed for the first eight weeks of their lives before switching to the next food stage.
How warm should the incubator tray be?
The eggs should be placed in the incubator’s tray with the larger end facing up and the small end facing down. The setting should be 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
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