Hatching Chickens for the First Time: My Heartbreaking Experience and Tips on Candling.

Hatching Chickens for the First Time: My Heartbreaking Experience and Tips on Candling.

Hatching chickens can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it can also be heartbreaking, especially for beginners. In this article, I share my personal experience of hatching chickens for the first time and the lessons I learned. I also provide tips on candling, a crucial process in incubation.

My Heartbreaking Experience

One of My Most Heartbreaking Experiences: Losing Almost Hatched Chick due to Power Outage

Using an incubator for the first time can be a challenging experience. I thought I had done enough research, but nothing prepared me for the power outage that lasted for almost six hours. When the power finally came back on, I immediately checked on the eggs, and to my dismay, I thought they were all dead. Two had gone bad, and I decided to throw away the rest, assuming they were all dead.

However, as I was about to discard them, something caught my eye. One of the eggs had a small crack, and when I looked closer, I saw a faint heartbeat. My heart sank as I realized that this was one of the chicks I had been hoping to hatch for so long. It was just a few days away from hatching, and now it seemed like all hope was lost. The thought of losing such a close-to-hatching chick was devastating.

I couldn’t help but feel guilty for the power outage and for not having a backup generator or alternative plan. I had let down the chick and myself. It was a heartbreaking experience that taught me to always have a backup plan and be prepared for any unexpected event.

Tips on Candling

Candling is an important process in incubation, as it allows you to monitor the development of the embryo inside the egg. However, it’s essential to do it correctly and at the right time.

Generally, it’s not possible to see anything inside the egg until at least day seven. At this point, you can start candling the eggs to check for any signs of life. It’s recommended to candle again at around day tenish, 12 to 14ish, and day 18 when you lock down. These are the critical stages of incubation, and you’ll be able to see the development of the embryo more clearly at each stage.

During the first candling, mark any questionable eggs, and don’t make any decisions on tossing them out just yet. Wait until the second candling to make any decisions on discarding them. It’s important to give the eggs enough time to develop, and sometimes, it may take longer than expected for the embryo to develop fully.

When candling, make sure you do it in a dark room, as any light can interfere with the process. Hold the egg against a bright light source, such as a flashlight, and look for signs of development, such as veins or movement. It’s essential to be gentle when handling the eggs, as any sudden movements or drops can harm the developing embryo inside.

The Candling Process

The candling process is a crucial step in incubating eggs. To begin, you will need a bright light and a dark room. The best time to start candling is usually around day seven, but you can start as early as day five. Hold the egg gently between your fingers and shine the light through it.

At day seven to tenish, you should see a small embryo with a visible heartbeat. By day 12 to 14ish, you should see more detail, including the eyes and the veins. When you reach day 18, it’s time for lockdown, and you should only candle the eggs in an emergency.

If you’re unsure about an egg’s development, mark it with the first candling and wait for the second candling. Don’t rush to make any decisions on tossing out until at least the second candling. If, by day ten, you don’t see any veins, just a mass of dark that floats freely (the yolk), and it doesn’t have a darker spot anywhere on it, then it’s probably safe to say that egg isn’t developing.

Always handle the eggs gently and avoid sudden movements or jarring, as this can damage the developing embryo. Remember that candling is a skill that takes time to master, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see much on your first few attempts. With practice and patience, you’ll become an expert at candling and be able to identify healthy developing eggs with ease.

Avoid Exploding Eggs

It’s important to keep an eye on your eggs and check them regularly to make sure they are developing as they should. If you notice that an egg is not developing or is a “dud,” it’s essential to remove it from the incubator as soon as possible. Leaving it in the incubator for too long can result in a terrible outcome, causing the egg to explode and contaminate the others.

To prevent this from happening, it’s important to handle the egg with care when removing it from the incubator. You can make a kind of cardboard fence around the dud egg to try and protect the other eggs if it does explode. This will prevent the mess from spreading and contaminating the other eggs in the incubator.

Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so it’s always a good idea to remove any questionable eggs from the incubator to avoid any potential contamination or damage to the other eggs.

Don’t Crack the Eggs Too Early

Cracking eggs too early can lead to disastrous outcomes, as the writer found out through their own personal experience. In an attempt to determine whether an egg was viable or not, they watched a video that suggested cracking it open. However, they were horrified to find that the egg had a heartbeat, indicating that it was still developing.

To avoid such heartbreaking situations, it is essential to wait a little longer before deciding whether an egg is not developing. As mentioned earlier, candling is an effective method for checking the development of the embryo. If the egg appears questionable during candling, it’s best to wait a few more days before making any decisions.

Moreover, cracking open an egg too early can also be unpleasant due to the strong smell of rotting. It’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid cracking open eggs unless absolutely necessary. Instead, marking the questionable eggs with the first candling is a better option. If you are unsure, it is always better to wait and monitor the egg’s development before taking any drastic measures.

Overall, patience is key when it comes to incubating eggs. Rushing the process can lead to unfortunate outcomes, and taking the time to ensure the health and safety of the developing chicks is crucial.

Mistakes Are Part of the Learning Process

It is important to remember that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. As beginners, we are bound to make errors, and that’s okay. If someone criticizes you for your mistakes, try to ignore them. Some people are not interested in helping and only want to create conflicts.

There are many resources available online to help you improve your skills, such as YouTube videos and egg candling guides. Don’t get discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t turn out as you expected. Keep trying and keep learning from your mistakes.

It’s also crucial to remember that hatching eggs is a delicate process that requires patience and attention to detail. Rushing things or being careless can lead to disastrous results. Take your time, follow the instructions carefully, and avoid taking shortcuts.


Hatching chickens can be an emotional rollercoaster, but with patience and persistence, it can be a rewarding experience. Candling is a crucial process in incubation, and it takes practice to master. Remember to wait a little longer before making any decisions on tossing out eggs and always be cautious of exploding eggs. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you make mistakes; they are part of the learning process. Good luck with your hatching journey!

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About James Polystead

I grew up on a small farm. My parents used to grow food and keep animals for our sustenance. They would sell the surplus to make an extra coin to supplement the income from their jobs. I am taking the same path. I have over 40 chickens for eggs and meat. I also grow vegetables in my backyard. follow me on Twitter

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