Can a Chicken Take More Than 21 Days to Hatch?

If you are new to hatching chicks, we’re sure you have plenty of questions about the process and steps to take to ensure successful incubation and hatching. 

The gestation period for chicken eggs isn’t too long and usually averages about 21 days. 

However, sometimes they don’t hatch, and you may wonder if a chicken egg can take more than 21 days to hatch.

Chickens take up to 26 days to hatch. Usually, eggs hatch at 21 days. So long as you observe regular growth activity in the egg through candling, we recommend holding on to eggs until 27 days after the egg is laid. Hatching times vary by breed, with bantams hatching earlier than larger breeds.

Hatching chicks for the first time is an exciting experience. 

Chances are you have lots of questions about hatching time. 

We’ll cover this (and more) in more detail in the rest of the article.

can a chicken take more than 21 days to hatch

How Long Do Chicken Eggs Take To Hatch?

Chicken eggs usually hatch after 21 days of incubation. 

Knowing proper chicken care for the eggs will help ensure a successful hatch. 

However, sometimes the baby chick does not emerge after 21 days, and you may be wondering if they will ever hatch. 

While 21 days is the average time for a chicken egg to hatch, this varies. 

Some eggs won’t hatch until 26 days after they are laid. 

For this reason, giving the eggs a couple of days past the 21-day mark is essential to allow them time to grow. 

It is easy to test the growth and development of the eggs through candling. 

Candling involves holding the egg up to a light source to see what is happening inside. 

The light will cast a shadow on the developing chick. 

This is a great way for chicken owners to monitor the growth and development of the baby chicken in the egg to ensure it has not died and is still growing. 

If you see a well-developed chick at 21 days, give it a few more days past the 21-day incubation period to see if it hatches. 

Candling helps to show if there has been an embryo death as well. 

Dead embryos will likely be much smaller and undeveloped. 

If this is the case, the egg may never hatch. 

Further Reading: How long do hens sit on their eggs?

Do Different Breeds Take Longer To Hatch?

If you have different types of flock animals or breeds of chickens, you may wonder if it takes different amounts of time for the eggs to hatch. 

The eggs may have different incubation times if you have mother hens of different breeds.

A clutch of eggs from a bantam breed will take less, usually about 18 days. 

A clutch of eggs from a larger breed will take longer and go a few days past the 21-day mark. 

For this reason, it is essential to practice extra care when you have multiple breeds of chickens to monitor how long they have incubated. 

How To Incubate Eggs

Hatching eggs is usually an easy process. 

Broody hens will provide natural incubation for the eggs in nest boxes in the coop. 

Sometimes all you need to do is let mother nature do its thing, and you’ll find hatched chicks after the incubation process is complete. 

However, certain breeds of chickens won’t incubate their eggs for whatever reason. 

Housing broodies help to make sure the eggs are safe and kept at an ideal temperature. 

Even if the broody is not the mother hen, they are still inclined to sit on the clutch to keep eggs warm, which is completely acceptable. 

Suppose no hens are taking the initiative in the hatching process of keeping eggs warm. 

In this case, it is time to step in and implement artificial incubation to keep the nest eggs safe and in proper conditions for development and growth. 

Let’s look into ways to ensure proper incubator setup for your fertilized chicken eggs. 

Temperature Levels

The incubator temperature should remain fairly constant. 

Incubator temperatures vary based on the type of incubator you use:

If temperatures drop, it won’t necessarily cause any serious damage to the developing chick. 

However, temperature drops are linked to extended hatching times, so don’t be surprised if eggs take longer to hatch if they experience a temperature change. 

Humidity Levels

Humidity levels are critical for chicken eggs to hatch. 

Proper humidity is vital for the health and growth of chicken eggs. 

The humidity will also need to be increased to 65% on day 18. 

Some people keep humidity at 45% until day 18, while others keep it between 50-55% percent humidity until it reaches the end of the incubation process. 

Chicken eggs must remain dry but still have proper humidity. 

Incubating Different Breeds Together

Some people wonder whether or not it is okay for them to incubator eggs from different breeds of chickens together in the same unit. 

While many backyard chicken owners with hatching experience do this, we generally don’t recommend it. 

There are quite a few reasons why you shouldn’t incubate the different breeds together:

  • Some breeds have different humidity and temperature needs. 
  • Smaller breeds will hatch sooner than larger breeds. 
  • Removing hatched birds causes temperature and humidity to escape from the incubator unit. 

You don’t want to be opening the incubator every time a chick hatches as it disrupts the proper humidity and temperature levels. 

If possible, use separate incubators for each breed to give the eggs the proper care they need. 

Broody Hens

Some breeds are particularly broody. 

Silkies, for example, are known to be excellent brooders. 

Others like the Red Star breed of chickens are more likely to refuse to sit on their fertilized eggs. 

For this reason, it helps to keep a few broodies around if a mother hen decides not to sit on her eggs. 

These broody hens will gladly take over for the mother hens and keep the eggs nice and warm. 

When you have broody hens who will be sitting on the eggs in the coop, it’s essential to provide proper conditions in the coop. 

Keep the nest clean and provide nest pads like this for your hens to lay on. 

They are easy to swap out for clean ones. 

If there is any trouble with the hens, we recommend switching to an incubator. 

This is a great reason to always have an incubator on hand if you plan to hatch baby chicks. 

Related Reading: What to do when hens kill other hen’s chicks

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Growing up amidst the sprawling farms of the South, Wesley developed a profound connection with farm animals from a young age. His childhood experiences instilled in him a deep respect for sustainable and humane farming practices. Today, through, Wesley shares his rich knowledge, aiming to inspire and educate others about the joys and intricacies of rural life.

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