This Spring I plan to be running staggered hatches to get more chicks than I could with normal “one batch at a time” incubation. If you’re new to incubating, you’ll want to start with this post. But if you’ve caught the bug, like I have, you might be ready for something a little more complex.
What is a staggered hatch and how can it help you get more chicks?
As you know if you’ve read the posts above, you can only gather eggs for about a week before putting them in the incubator. If you only have a few chickens laying, or if your chickens lay less frequently, that may not give you many eggs to hatch. And with normal incubation, you’d need to wait three weeks for those to hatch before starting another batch.
With a staggered hatch, you can put multiple egg batches into your incubator at different times. As each batch reaches lockdown, you move those eggs to a second incubator with higher humidity for the hatch without affecting the eggs that aren’t yet ready for lockdown. Here are some suggestions to help you keep track of your batches.
- Mark eggs well! I use a letter for the batch and a number for the egg (First batch: A1, A2, A3…, Second batch: B1, B2, B3… etc).
- Put eggs in at regular intervals. Since you can gather eggs for a week prior to incubation, it’s handy to put a new batch of eggs in on the same day each week (Batch A goes in on a Thursday, Batch B goes in the following Thursday, etc).
- When you are deciding what day of the week to start your staggered hatches, consider your weekly schedule and what days you are pretty sure to be home to take care of the move to the hatcher and to watch the hatch (if you want to – and I think we all do!). Check the chart below.
|Start new batch||Move to hatcher||Hatch day|