How Long Does It Typically Take For Chicken Eggs To Hatch After Fertilization?

Chicken Care 101

Have you ever wondered how long it takes for chicken eggs to hatch after they have been fertilized? Well, you’re in luck! In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating world of chicken eggs and uncover the average incubation period from the moment of fertilization to the joyous arrival of fluffy little chicks. Get ready to be amazed as we discover the intricate process that leads to the birth of these adorable creatures. So, without further ado, let’s crack open the details and reveal the answer to this egg-citing question!

Factors Affecting Incubation Period


The temperature at which chicken eggs are incubated plays a crucial role in determining the length of the incubation period. The ideal temperature range for most chicken eggs is between 99 and 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Deviations from this range can result in prolonged incubation or even the failure of eggs to hatch. It is important to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the incubation process to ensure successful hatching.


Humidity levels inside the incubator also have a significant impact on the incubation period. Chicken eggs require a specific level of humidity for proper development. Generally, the recommended humidity range is between 50% and 55% for the first 18 days of incubation. During the final three days, the humidity should be increased to around 65% to facilitate the hatching process. Imbalances in humidity levels can lead to complications, including delayed hatching or the death of developing embryos.


Regularly turning the eggs during the incubation period is important for ensuring uniform development. By turning the eggs several times a day, you help prevent the embryos from sticking to the shell, promote proper circulation of nutrients, and prevent deformities. Neglecting to turn the eggs can result in delayed hatching or unhealthy chicks.

Egg Size

The size of the chicken eggs can influence the incubation period. Larger eggs tend to require slightly longer incubation periods compared to smaller ones. This is because larger eggs have a higher mass and take longer to heat up and cool down. Breed differences should also be taken into consideration, as some breeds naturally produce larger eggs than others.

Egg Quality

The quality of the eggs used for incubation can also affect the incubation period. Eggs that have been stored for too long or have defects in their shells may have a reduced chance of successfully hatching. It is important to collect eggs carefully, ensuring they are clean, intact, and free from cracks or deformities.


Different chicken breeds have varying incubation periods. These variations can be attributed to genetic differences and the specific development patterns of each breed. It’s crucial to be aware of the average incubation period for the specific breed you are incubating to accurately anticipate hatching time.

Age of Eggs

The age of the eggs at the time of incubation can impact the incubation period. Fresher eggs tend to develop and hatch more quickly than older ones. If eggs have been stored for an extended period, their fertility and viability may decline, resulting in prolonged incubation or failed hatching.


The sex of the developing embryos can affect the incubation period to some extent. In some cases, male embryos may take longer to develop than female embryos. This can result in a slight difference in the hatching time between the two sexes.


The genetic makeup of the chicken plays a significant role in determining the incubation period. Certain genetic traits may cause variations in the development and hatching process. It’s important to consider the breed’s genetic background and consult breed-specific information to ensure successful incubation.

Environmental Conditions

The surrounding environmental conditions during incubation, such as ambient temperature and humidity levels, can affect the overall incubation period. Factors such as drafts, heat fluctuations, or a detrimental incubation environment can disrupt the development of embryos and lead to prolonged incubation or unsuccessful hatching. It is crucial to provide a controlled and suitable environment to ensure optimal incubation conditions.

Average Incubation Period for Chicken Eggs

General Range

The average incubation period for chicken eggs is typically 21 days. However, it’s important to note that this is an average and can vary depending on the factors mentioned earlier.

Specific Breeds

Different chicken breeds may have specific incubation periods that deviate from the general range. For example, Rhode Island Reds and Leghorns generally hatch after approximately 21 days, while Silkies may take around 19-20 days. It is essential to consult breed-specific information to determine the expected incubation period for the specific breed you are incubating.

Rare Breeds

Rare breeds of chickens may have unique characteristics, including variations in the incubation period. Due to the limited availability of information and research on these breeds, it is crucial to gather specific information on their incubation requirements and periods from reputable breeders or expert sources.

Large Breeds

Large chicken breeds, such as Orpingtons and Sussex, may have slightly longer incubation periods compared to smaller breeds. The increased egg size and mass can contribute to the longer incubation time.

Small Breeds

Smaller chicken breeds, such as Bantams and Seramas, may have shorter incubation periods compared to larger breeds. The smaller egg size and reduced mass can result in faster development and hatching.

Bantam Breeds

Bantam breeds, known for their small size, typically have shorter incubation periods compared to larger breeds. Bantam eggs generally hatch after around 19-20 days.

Ornamental Breeds

Ornamental chicken breeds, such as Polish and Frizzles, may have incubation periods similar to standard breeds. It is important to consult breed-specific information to ensure accurate expectations for hatching.

Heritage Breeds

Heritage chicken breeds, known for their historical significance and preservation, may have incubation periods that align with their specific genetic traits and developmental patterns. Gathering breed-specific information is necessary to determine the expected incubation period.

Commercial Breeds

Commercially bred chicken breeds, specifically developed for mass production, may have incubation periods that have been selectively shortened. Their genetic background and breeding objectives may prioritize faster development and earlier hatching. Breed-specific information is crucial to understand expectations for commercial breeds.

Exotic Breeds

Exotic chicken breeds, such as Ayam Cemani or Sultan chickens, may exhibit unique attributes, including variations in the incubation period. Due to their rarity and distinct genetic characteristics, it is important to seek specific information from reputable sources to properly incubate exotic breeds.

Monitoring the Incubation Process


Candling is a common technique used to monitor the development of chicken embryos during incubation. By examining the eggs in a darkened room with a bright light source, you can observe the growth, movement, and even detect potential issues. Candling can be done at various stages of incubation to ensure the eggs are progressing as expected.

Embryo Development

Regular monitoring of embryo development is essential to assess the progress of the incubation process. By carefully candling the eggs, you can observe the development stages, including the formation of blood vessels, the growth of the embryo, and the movement of the chick inside the shell.


Candling also allows you to identify any malformations or abnormalities during the incubation process. Deformities or developmental issues can affect the viability of the chick and may require appropriate measures or interventions.

Signs of Life

Candling can help you determine signs of life within the eggs. The presence of a developing embryo, visible movement, or the formation of veins are positive indicators that the incubation process is progressing well.


Pipping refers to the process in which the chick begins to break through the shell using its egg tooth. Monitoring for pipping is crucial as it indicates that the hatching process is imminent.


The final stage of the incubation process is hatching. Observing the eggs closely during this time allows you to witness the hatching process and ensure that each chick successfully emerges from its shell.

Factors That Can Alter Incubation Period

Temperature Fluctuations

Fluctuations in temperature can significantly impact the incubation period. Sudden temperature drops or prolonged exposure to high temperatures can disrupt the development of the embryos and extend the incubation time.

Humidity Fluctuations

Similarly, fluctuations in humidity levels can affect the incubation period. Inconsistent or incorrect humidity levels can lead to developmental issues and delay hatching.


Embryo abnormalities can cause variations in the incubation period. Genetic abnormalities, deformities, or developmental malfunctions can result in delayed hatching or failed hatching altogether.


Diseases, infections, or exposure to pathogens can negatively affect embryo development and increase the incubation period. Proper biosecurity measures should be implemented to minimize the risk of disease transmission during incubation.


Embryonic infections can occur if bacteria or microorganisms enter the egg during the incubation process. These infections can disrupt development and lead to prolonged incubation or unsuccessful hatching.

Environmental Stress

Stressful environmental conditions, such as excessive noise, vibrations, or disturbances, can affect the development and hatching process. A calm and stable environment is crucial to minimize stress and ensure optimal incubation conditions.

Inadequate Incubation

Inadequate incubation practices, such as improper temperature control, incorrect humidity levels, or neglecting to turn the eggs, can result in developmental issues and prolonged incubation. It is important to follow recommended incubation practices to achieve successful hatching.

Improper Handling

Rough handling of eggs or improper storage conditions prior to incubation can impact the viability and development of embryos. Eggs should be handled gently, avoiding excessive shaking or dropping, to ensure healthy development.

Poor Egg Quality

Using poor-quality eggs for incubation can lead to extended incubation time or failed hatching. Eggs should be carefully selected, ensuring they are clean, intact, and free from defects or abnormalities.

Genetic Abnormalities

Genetic factors can contribute to variations in the incubation period. Certain genetic traits or abnormalities may alter the developmental process and cause delays in hatching.

Determining Fertility


Candling is commonly used to determine the fertility of chicken eggs. By examining the contents of the egg, you can identify the presence of a developing embryo and confirm if the egg is fertile.

Infertile Eggs

Infertile eggs show no signs of embryo development during the candling process. These eggs will not hatch and can be removed from the incubator to avoid impacting the development of viable eggs.

Fertility Issues

Some eggs may show signs of partial embryonic development or abnormalities, indicating fertility issues. These eggs may not hatch successfully, and it is important to address potential fertility issues to improve future incubation outcomes.

Fertility Testing

If you are unsure about the fertility of eggs before the incubation process, fertility testing can be conducted. This involves specific procedures, such as egg breakout analysis or microbial cultures, to assess the viability and fertility of the eggs.

Artificial Insemination

Artificial insemination is a technique used to enhance fertility and breeding possibilities. By introducing sperm to the hen’s reproductive tract without natural mating, artificial insemination can increase the chances of fertilization. This technique is commonly used for breed preservation or genetic improvement programs.

Managing the Incubation Process

Incubator Setup

Proper setup of the incubator is crucial for a successful incubation process. This includes ensuring accurate temperature and humidity control, proper ventilation, and appropriate positioning of the eggs.

Temperature Control

Maintaining a consistent and appropriate temperature is essential for successful incubation. The recommended temperature range for most chicken eggs is between 99 and 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Regularly monitoring and adjusting the incubator’s temperature is necessary to provide optimal conditions.

Humidity Control

Maintaining proper humidity levels throughout the incubation process is important. The recommended humidity range is between 50% and 55% for the first 18 days, followed by an increase to around 65% in the final three days. Humidity levels can be monitored and adjusted using water trays or automatic humidity control systems.

Turning Eggs

Regularly turning the eggs promotes uniform development and prevents complications. Eggs should be turned several times a day, ideally at least three times, to prevent the embryo from sticking to the shell and to ensure proper circulatory function.

Candling Eggs

Candling eggs at various stages of incubation allows for monitoring of development, detection of abnormalities, and determination of fertility. Candling is typically done every few days to assess the progress of embryo development.

Egg Rotation

Rotating the eggs during incubation helps ensure proper development and prevents the embryo from adhering to the shell. Eggs can be rotated manually by hand or through automatic egg turners available in some incubators.

Assistance with Hatching

In some cases, chicks may require assistance during the hatching process. If a chick is struggling to hatch or becomes weak, providing limited assistance by gently peeling away portions of the shell can aid the hatching process. However, extreme caution must be exercised to avoid harming the chick or interfering with the natural hatching process.

Signs of Successful Hatching

Internal Pip

An internal pip is the first sign of successful hatching. It occurs when the chick pecks a small hole in the inner membrane of the egg, signaling that it is ready to begin the hatching process.

External Pip

The external pip refers to the chick making a small hole in the eggshell itself. This is an indicator that the hatching process is in progress, and the chick will soon emerge from the shell.

Egg Movement

As the chick inside the egg prepares to hatch, it may exhibit slight movements or rocking motions within the eggshell. This movement indicates the chick’s activity and imminent hatching.


Chicks can sometimes emit faint chirping noises or peeping sounds as they hatch. This vocalization is an indication of their vitality and successful progression towards hatching.

Increased Incubator Humidity

During the hatching process, the incubator’s humidity typically increases as the chick breaks through the shell. The elevated humidity is necessary to moisten the membrane and help the chick finalize its exit from the egg.

Hatching Troubleshooting

Slow Hatching

Some chicks may experience delayed hatching, taking longer than the average incubation period. This can be caused by various factors, including genetic traits, suboptimal incubation conditions, or developmental issues. Monitoring the situation and ensuring the chick’s well-being during this time is essential.

Stuck Chick

Occasionally, a chick may get stuck in the eggshell during the hatching process. This can happen if the membrane dries and adheres to the chick or if the chick has difficulty properly maneuvering within the shell. Gentle assistance may be required, but extreme care must be taken to avoid injuring the chick.

Blood Rings

Blood rings, also known as bloodspots, are circles of blood vessels visible during candling. They indicate that the embryo stopped developing at an early stage and will not hatch. These eggs should be removed from the incubator to prevent any negative impact on the development of viable eggs.

Malpositioned Chick

In some cases, a chick may be malpositioned or in an abnormal posture within the egg. This can make hatching more challenging and may require assistance or intervention to ensure a successful hatch.

Unabsorbed Yolk Sac

After hatching, it is important to monitor the chick for any signs of an unabsorbed yolk sac. If the yolk sac hasn’t fully absorbed into the chick’s body, it may require veterinary care to prevent infection or complications.

Pasty Butt

Pasty butt is a condition where fecal matter sticks to the chick’s vent area. This can be distressing and should be promptly addressed by carefully removing the debris and ensuring the chick’s cleanliness.

Non-viable Eggs

Not all eggs in the incubator will hatch successfully. Non-viable eggs may contain undeveloped embryos, late-stage losses, or eggs that failed to fertilize. It is important to remove non-viable eggs to avoid any potential issues or contamination within the incubator.

After Hatching Care


Once the chicks have successfully hatched, they require a brooding area or brooder. A brooder provides a warm and safe environment that mimics the conditions the chicks experienced in the incubator. It typically includes a heat source, cozy bedding, and adequate space for the chicks to move around.


Maintaining appropriate warmth for the chicks is crucial during the brooding period. The brooder temperature should be gradually reduced over time as the chicks grow and develop their natural insulation.

Food and Water

Providing chicks with a balanced and nutritious diet is important for their growth and well-being. A high-quality chick starter feed, specifically formulated to meet their nutritional needs, along with clean and fresh water should be readily available at all times.

Protection from Predators

Ensuring the safety and security of the chicks is vital. Protecting them from potential predators, including rodents, snakes, or other animals, is essential. Adequate housing and secure fencing should be provided to prevent any harm or stress to the chicks.

Health and Wellness

Monitoring the chicks’ health and addressing any potential issues promptly is crucial. Regularly check for signs of disease, illness, or injury, and provide appropriate veterinary care if needed. Keeping the brooder clean and well-maintained helps promote a healthy environment for the chicks.

Bonding and Socialization

Chicks are social animals and benefit from interaction and bonding. Spend time with the chicks, handling them gently, and providing opportunities for socialization. This helps them develop properly and establishes a positive relationship with humans.

Chick Rearing

As the chicks grow, they will go through various stages of development. Providing appropriate space, nutrition, and environmental enrichment is important to support their growth and prepare them for eventual integration into a flock. Consult breed-specific information or expert advice to ensure proper rearing practices.


Understanding the factors affecting the incubation period of chicken eggs is crucial for successful hatching. From temperature and humidity control to proper monitoring techniques, managing the incubation process requires careful attention and adherence to recommended practices. By being knowledgeable about the average incubation periods for different breeds and being prepared to troubleshoot potential issues, you can maximize the chances of a successful hatch and ensure the well-being of the newly hatched chicks. With proper care and attention, you can embark on the rewarding journey of incubating and hatching chicken eggs.