How to Hatch Chicks

There's so much to learn from such a unique experience, from their "egg tooth," to their first feathers, to playful personality changes!

Hatching chicks, much like raising chickens requires the right supplies. With the right information and supplies, hatching and raising chicks can be a joy. 

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The two most important factors in determining whether you'll have a successful hatch are the quality of the incubator and the quality of the eggs. 

The best incubator on the market with the most successful hatch rate for hatching a small batch of eggs is the Brinsea Mini Advance incubator.  Like many of the best products in a category, it is quite expensive. With good quality eggs, the hatch rate is around 80%. This incubator turns the eggs for you, keep the perfect temperature and the perfect humidity. All you have to do it add water every couple of days. Making your own incubator or purchasing a low quality incubator often results in a hatch rate between 0 and 25%. 

Eggs: There are many factors that go into making the most fertile egg. This includes the ratio of roosters to hens, stress level of mother hens, how old the eggs are, how far they've traveled, the temperature they're stored at and even the type of food and the cleanliness of the hens' living conditions.  There are many places to get fertile eggs including Craigslist, your local farmer and online. Each source has it's advantages and disadvantages. It is especially important to find good quality fertile eggs in an educational setting. It is quite a letdown for a student to wait 21 days for an egg to hatch only to find out that something went wrong. 

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Once your chicks have hatched or you've decided to purchase chicks from the store, your most important decisions now lie in which supplies you choose to help raise the chicks.  Your choices will make the difference between a clean smelling cage with little work and a smelly cage and chores you'll need to do 2-3 times per day. 

The necessary supplies include:

A brooder (A cage where the chicks will live), a heat source, a waterer and a feeder, bedding and food. 

There are many options for brooders but the most important thing to remember is that for the first 4 weeks of their lives, chicks double in size every week. The correct amount of space for 6 chicks that are 1 week old is vastly different from the amount of space the six 2 week old chicks need. Go with a larger sized brooder than you think you'll need. Each chick needs at least 6 square inches for every week of the chick's age. Do not use a brooder with wire on the bottom for chicks under 4 weeks. The best bedding is pine shavings. 

Heat source - For years the common heat source for chicks has been a heat lamp and heat bulb. Although these are the current standard, they do include a very a small rise of fire. In the past couple of years a new style of heater has become available. This new style if basically fire proof which is one less thing to worry about. These are called brooder plates. They are easily to adjust depending on the age and height of your chicks. 

Water and feed bowls. There are many different versions and we have tested them all. The best waterers are those that baby chicks can not drown in. The water reservoir needs to be as small as possible. The other consideration is if bedding and feces can get into the water bowl. To cut down on debris getting into the waterer and feeder, you can put them on stands. 1 inch high for every week old the chicks are. The new type of waterer that has solved most of these problems is a nipple waterer with nipples on the side of the bucket. No bedding or debris can get in to the container and neither can any chicks. These only work for chicks ages 10 days and above so you'll need to use the conventional waterer for chicks under 10 days old. At 10 days, the chicks are strong enough to peck at the nipples. RentACoop will have a new chick feeder coming to market in the Spring of 2018 so keep an eye out. 

Our Hatching Program

If you're interested in hatching chicks for the experience and not raising chicks until maturity, we recommend checking out our chick hatching program. We delivery all the supplies and you don't have to keep the chicks at the end of the program. No need to think about which brooder to buy, which incubator to buy, where to purchase the eggs and feed, etc. This unique program even come with an egg candling light so you can see the chicks grow inside the egg!

You can watch as the chicks develop, peck out of their egg, and and begin their journey after 21 days inside the egg. PLUS you care for 2 baby chicks while waiting for the 7 eggs to hatch!

How to Raise Chickens

Chickens are one of the easiest animals to care for.  

The chores involved are only done once a day to once a week.
They are as easy to care for as a cat! 

Chickens are also one of the best pets to teach kids about responsibility, where food comes from and compassion. 

There are only two things you need to get right in order to have a great experience raising chickens:

The breed and the supplies (coop, feeder and waterer).


If you're just starting with chickens, we recommend starting with one of the three following breeds. Each lay very well, around 300 eggs per year (260 is average). Each breed is rated in the top 5 for friendliness (most important)

  1. Golden Comet / Red Star
  2. Buff Orpington
  3. Barred (Plymouth) Rock

Chicken Coop

The top selling chicken coops, like most other top selling products, are the cheapest. Unfortunately, many first time chicken owners that are unsure whether they want to keep chickens permanently will purchase these cheap coops in order to test out if chicken keeping is worth the trouble.

One of the reasons we started or chicken coop rental business RentACoop, was to help those on the fence about chicken keeping get a first hand experience before deciding if chicken keeping is right for them.

These coops are usually too small for the amount of hens they claim can live in these tiny coops. This creates poor living conditions which can lead to sickness or at the least, a smelly living environment.  

Due to the cheap construction, these coops are never predator proof and often break down within a year making them easy for a predator to break in to.

An easy way to tell if they are predator proof is to see if there is wire on the bottom of the coop. Most all cheap coops have no protection from digging predators. With a poor coop layout, poor living conditions and no predator proofing, you can see why most people getting into chicken keeping for the first time will give up within a year.  

To forgo these problems, we recommend purchasing a chicken coop from a local builder (Craigslist), purchasing a chicken coop that is larger than what you think you'll need, or renting a chicken coop and hens before you decide to buy. We also have coops for sale

Feeder and Waterer

Just as important as the coop choice is your choice of the feeder and waterer. 

The most common feeders and waterers for sale (and coincidentally the cheapest) look like this -  They have been sold for years and have not changed since the 1950's.

The basic problems with these types of feeders and waterers are easy to imagine just by looking at them. The three main design flaws are as follows. 

  1. The food and water is not covered so bedding, dirt and/or manure get in easily. This makes  chores a pain, making cleaning a once or twice daily chore. 
  2. The feed is easily spilled by picky hens (all hens) 
  3. Your placement options are limited to inside the coop or under cover as rain will easily spoil feed. 


Giving chickens a variety of treats helps their immune system and makes the eggs more nutritious! Check out our treats page for a full list of chicken treat do's and do-not's.

Our Rental programs are educational and can ease you into owning chickens of your own!

We have chicken coops that are very easy to use and are kid friendly! Our coops are low maintenance because we use our chicken feeder and waterer.

The other companies have coops with feed and water systems that make the chicken coop rental more of a chore and they end up with customers that are less excited to tell their friends. Our hatching rentals are better for the same reasons.

We have worksheets for students and focus much our energy on creating more ways for kids to get as much as they can out of the program!

Check out our Coop Rental options!