Incubating chicken eggs - Pros and Cons

Which is better, incubating eggs or letting a chicken hatch them? 

There is something magical about newly-hatched chicks. They are so fluffy and cute!

If you have kids, incubating eggs is a must do! For kids, incubating eggs and raising the chicks is one of the best ways that they can learn about the wonders of nature. Raising chicks also teaches kids responsibility, patience and hygiene! And it opens their eyes to how our food is produced.

Incubating eggs is the best way to get hands-on experience with baby chicks. Chicks you raise yourself are make better pets and you learn so much about chickens!

Many backyard chicken keepers love incubating eggs. But other chicken keepers swear by letting their birds do the work. 

We look at the pros and cons, so you can decide whether incubation is right for you. Whatever you choose, having more chickens is definitely a pro!

The pros and cons of incubating chicken eggs

The pros of incubating chicken eggsThe cons of incubating chicken eggs
  • You can choose when to have chicks
  • It’s a great experience for kids
  • You really get to bond with your chicks
  • You don't rely on a broody hen 
  • You can have chicks any time
  • Your chooks may not be good mothers
  • It’s a great way to start a flock
  • The chicks make better pets when they grow up because they’ve been handled from a young age
  • You can introduce new breeds to your flock
  • Fertilised eggs are cheaper than grown birds, or even free
  • Raising the chicks separately from the flock can be more hygienic and makes it easier to use a medicated starter feed
  • The chicks will be better protected from predators
  • Modern incubators make the whole process really easy
  • Many modern incubators are energy efficient
  • Incubating eggs is easy but caring for the chicks is a bit of work
  • You need an incubator and a heat source for the brooder
  • It can be more difficult to introduce the chicks to your flock

Incubating chicken eggs

Incubating eggs is a great option if you want to be hands-on with your new chicks. It also allows you to raise different breeds of birds and means that you can have chicks whenever it suits you. If your birds are not the best mothers, incubating may be your best option for a healthy hatch.

For most chicken keepers, the main reason for incubating is the joy it gives them. There is something very magical about watching chicks hatch and grow. The tiny, fluffy things are so cute! If you like chickens, chicks are pure delight and it is definitely worth getting an incubator!

Letting a chicken hatch eggs

While it sounds super easy, letting a chicken raise chicks isn’t always so straight forward.

A mother hen usually needs to be housed separately to the rest of your flock. This prevents conflict with other chickens wishing to use the nesting box and protects the chicks once they hatch, as other hens might try to harm them. It is also important to separate chicks from the rest of the flock if using a medicated starter for coccidiosis. 

Many modern chickens are not great mothers, either. They have been genetically selected for high egg production, rather than their mothering instincts. They may not stay on the nest or they might accidentally crush the chicks. Some mother hens even kill their own chicks!

But introducing chicks raised by a mother to the flock is easier, because the mother hen will usually protect the chicks from bullying.

Buying birds

If you don’t want the hassle of raising chicks or helping a mother hen do it, you can always buy pullets or point-of-lay birds. This saves time and also solves the problem of what to do with the roosters which always seem to make up at least 50 % of the hatch! But the birds are usually less friendly and you miss out on the magic of gorgeous, fluffy chicks!

Happy hatching!

Rachael at Dine a Chook