One of our lovely friends has a farm with lots of free range chickens. Following on from our butterflies and ladybirds, she asked whether the boys (6, 4 and 17 months) would like to hatch some chicks for her.


  • Incubator
  • Fertilised chicken eggs


06.50 – This was the part that they were most excited about. Finny had made his own little chick, with a bottle lid egg to watch along with him.

06.57 – Ioan telling Finn that they use the egg tooth to break out of the shell.

07.31 – We didn’t quite know where to look, as so many of the eggs were starting to hatch at once. The brown egg managed to crack the egg all the way round.

07.35 – The first chick had managed to get his wing out, but as the boys were learning, hatching is a long process.

07.37 – The leg was out, but it’s beak was still tucked under it’s chin!

07.41 – Finny predicted that the brown eggs would have black chicks inside and the white eggs would have yellow chicks.

07.42 – Our first view of the rest of the chick.

07.46 – First chick on the move.

07.51 – Cian’s first look at the hatched chick.

08.57 – First chick resting

07.59 – Cian examining the eggs.

08.59 – Two hours in and Ioan still wouldn’t leave the incubator’s side.

09.21- Cian examining the incubator, in true toddler fashion!

09.22 – I took this video on an angle to get a better view of the fascinated faces watching the process. While they were examining the chick on one side of the incubator, we missed the first yellow chick hatch on the opposite side.

09.23 – Second chick.

09.24 – Finny confirming his prediction was right.

09.25 – Second chick lifting it’s head out for the first time. Third chick out.

The first 24 hours…

Once the first chick has hatched, the incubator will usually get a little foggy as the chick’s feathers act as an evaporation surface and moisture fills the air.

The hatched chicks will go through periods of high-activity followed by long periods of rest. This is an important process and does not mean they’re in any trouble. In their short burst of energy, you’ll hear them chirping and see them scrambling around inside the incubation chamber; knocking eggs from side to side as they go. The movement and sound of the hatched chicks will actually encourage the unhatched chicks to break through their shells, so let them do as they wish.

IMPORTANT – However tempting it may seem, do not lift the lid of the incubator whilst hatching is taking place. Lifting the lid during this crucial time will allow heat and moisture to escape, making it difficult for the chicks to hatch.

Once all the chicks have hatched, it may look very crowded inside the incubator. But do not let this worry you… they would look exactly the same under their natural mother hen.

09.29 – First chick meeting third chick.

09.31 – Third chick starting to move.

17.21 – The older chicks fluffing up. Latest chick unfurling.

19.17 – First eleven chicks drying off and warming up in incubator.

So much excitement for one day! Now, we are looking forward to seeing the chicks take their first steps outside the incubator.

When can I take the chicks out of the incubator?

After the first 24 hours have passed, you can begin to observe the chicks body language and overall health. By their second day they should be less damp and look decidedly more cute and fluffy. Once the chicks are dry and fluffy, you can then move them to a chick brooder.

DfES Early Learning Goals (2017)

Understanding the world

ELG 14 – The world:

Children know about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. They talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another. They make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur, and talk about changes.

DfES Outcomes for EYFS and National Curriculum (2013)

Science Year 1 programme of study

Animals, including humans

  • identify and name a variety of common animals including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals