Key Guide: Knowing the Right Time to Stop Turning Chicken Eggs for Successful Hatching

Key Guide: Knowing the Right Time to Stop Turning Chicken Eggs for Successful Hatching

You’re knee-deep in the fascinating world of chicken egg incubation. You’ve mastered the art of maintaining the perfect temperature and humidity levels, but there’s one question that keeps you up at night: When should you stop turning those precious eggs?

Understanding the right timing is crucial, as it can significantly impact the hatchability of your future chicks. It’s not just about following a schedule; it’s about understanding the life cycle of a chicken embryo and how your actions affect its development.

Let’s delve into this intriguing topic and shed some light on the best practices for egg turning. With the right knowledge, you can ensure the healthiest possible environment for your soon-to-be feathered friends.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the incubation process and the key role of egg turning is essential. Egg turning is crucial in the early stages of incubation as it stimulates natural conditions and promotes healthy embryo development.
  • You should stop turning your chicken eggs on day 18 of the incubation process. This ‘lockdown’ period is vital to the hatching process as it offers the developing chicks the stability they require.
  • Each stage of the egg’s development is crucial, with the first seven days requiring regular egg turning, the lockdown period starting on day 18, and the hatching process begins on day 21.
  • Excessive egg turning or handling, particularly after the 18th day, could be detrimental to the chicks’ development. It’s important to observe but refrain from assisting the hatching process to encourage chicks’ resilience.
  • Whether you choose manual or automatic egg turning, maintaining regular intervals for turning the eggs is imperative. Manually, aim for at least three turns daily. If you use an automatic incubator, make sure it turns the eggs regularly.
  • Maintaining optimal conditions in your incubator is crucial for a successful hatch. Ideal hatching conditions include temperature ranges from 99.5°F to 101°F (37.5°C to 38.3°C) and humidity levels between 65% – 70%.
  • The position of eggs before hatching is important, with eggs placed on their sides and the larger air cell facing upwards. Ensuring that the eggs do not touch each other helps prevent damage during the hatching process.

Understanding the Incubation Process

Embarking on a journey to hatching chicken eggs presents numerous lessons about the marvel of life. The incubation process, mingling precision and patience, requires keen understanding. Your attention to significant stages in the embryo’s development becomes the pivot around which successful hatching revolves.

The Role of Turning Chicken Eggs

Turning chicken eggs takes center stage in the early stages of incubation. Mimicking a mother hen’s instinctive behavior, turning simulates natural conditions, fostering healthy and even development. Of key importance here, it prevents the egg yolk from sticking to the shell’s side, a scenario potentially fatal for the developing chick.

Turn the eggs a minimum of three times daily, ensuring equal distribution of warmth around the egg. An apt comparison likens their functional operation to thermostats: balancing temperature by rotating the eggs. Daily turning also promotes adequate nutrient absorption by the embryo.

Key Incubation Milestones

Incubation marks a journey, punctuated by significant milestones signaling the appropriate times to modulate your management of the eggs. Around the 18th day, the eggs enter a phase often referred to as “lockdown”. During lockdown, cease turning the eggs. Why this abrupt stop? The embryo is preparing for the hatching process, needing stability. Disturbing them in this crucial stage risks severe complications.

By the 21st day, anticipate the rewarding sound of chirping and pecking: the chicks are ready to emerge from their shells. At this juncture, resist the temptation to assist these little fighters. Their struggle to break free sustains their resilience, vital for survival in the outside world.

In this entire process, let precision, patience, and keen monitoring guide you. Your payoff? The joy of witnessing the fascinating miracle of life: hatching.

The Importance of Timing

The Importance of Timing

Time is your closest ally in the egg incubation journey. It dictates the rhythm of your actions, from the diligent turning of the eggs to the patient vigil for a hatch.

Early Development Stages

First, let’s dive into the egg’s early development stages. It’s a voyage that spans twenty-one days. They divide into three dramatic acts, each seven days apart.

Act 1 unfolds with the egg’s initial development from the first day. At this embryonic stage, eggs require constant turning, preferably an odd number of times daily, for an optimal chance at a healthy hatch. You’d need to rotate the eggs to replicate the hen’s natural instinct. These movements prevent the yolk from sticking to the shell, fostering the development of the essential vessels.

Significance of the Lockdown Period

Then comes Act 2. The lockdown phase strikes around the 18th day. By then, the egg turning ceases, giving the developing chicks stability in the build-up to the hatching. Consequently, the embryo starts to position itself for hatching. The remaining days require you to exercise patience, avoiding unnecessary handling and anxiety. Interference at this stage risks a malpositioned chick, unfavorable for hatching.

Into Act 3. Awaiting the hatch on the 21st day. Observation is vital, but assistance isn’t. It’s best to let nature take its course, allowing the chicks to hatch on their own, building their resilience.

Disrupting the synchrony at any stage leads to an undesirable outcome. The chicken incubation process verifies the old saying; timing isn’t just everything, it’s the only thing. Unstated in the phrase is the trust in nature doing its part, solidifying the importance of timing in the process.

When To Stop Turning Chicken Eggs?

When To Stop Turning Chicken Eggs?

The process of manually manoeuvring the eggs in an incubator forms a critical part of the journey from egg to chick. Given the right temperature, humidity, and turning frequency, embryos can grow steadily into hatchlings. Through this process, it is essential to distinguish that turning eggs beyond a certain point can be detrimental to the chicks’ development.

Identifying the Right Day

In the majority of cases, one stops turning chicken eggs on day 18 of the incubation period. This change is notable in the incubation timeline, often termed as the “lockdown period”. This stage represents a time where unnecessary interventions should reduce to a minimum, focusing on maintaining a stable environment for the eggs.

Upon reaching the lockdown period, a remarkable transformation occurs within the egg. The embryo’s physical development is largely complete, with the chick beginning to position itself for hatching. If you were to poll a batch of chicken eggs at this period, it is interesting to notice that the larger end of the eggs would point upwards. This upward inclination is an indication of the chick moving into a hatching position.

Recognizing Signs of Readiness

As the hatching period nears, there’ll be observable signs that indicate the eggs are ready. Around day 18, you may notice the eggs wobbling, a normal and exciting sign that the chicks primed for their imminent emergence. At this point, it’s crucial to resist the urge to assist the chicks or handle the eggs excessively.

Knowledge and understanding of the incubation timeline and identifying the signs of readiness in the eggs are pivotal to successful hatching. Always remember, less interference and more observation lead to a better hatching experience. Appropriate timing, patience, and a minimal disturbance approach are the keys to unlocking the magic of new life emerging from chicken eggs.

Best Practices for Egg Turning

Building upon the previous section that analyzed when to stop turning chicken eggs, this part delves into the best practices for egg-turning, supporting the successful hatching of eggs. Equipped with these expert tips, you’ll navigate the delicate egg turning process with utmost confidence and precision.

Manual vs. Automatic Turning

Egg turning, whether manual or automatic, plays a crucial role in preventing yolk adhesion and enhancing vessel development. For manual turning, it requires dedication and punctuality, averting the yolk from sticking by turning the eggs thrice daily. Eggs should only be overturned by an approximate 180 degrees.

If automatic turning is your choice, assure the incubator’s presence, programmed to turn the eggs at regular intervals. Some models turn every hour, while others rotate every four hours, making it a pivotal factor to consider upon purchase.

Frequency and Rotation Techniques

The frequency of turning chicken eggs generally range between three and five times daily. Overturning, leading to repeated changes in position, can disorientate the developing embryo. Therefore, stick to the rule of thumb of turning the egg just enough to shift its position.

As for rotation techniques, always make sure to wash your hands or use clean gloves before handling the eggs. A consistent, gentle rotation, marked by an alternation between the larger and smaller ends pointing upward, supports balanced development of the embryo. Taking care not to rotate the same end up consecutively prevents complications and supports a healthy hatching process.

Preparing for Hatching

With your eggs cozily incubated, you’re about to embark on the thrilling final stages of the hatching process. Understanding the right conditions and positions for your eggs can significantly enhance the success rate of hatching. Let’s delve into how ensuring stable temperature and humidity, along with correct positioning, paves the way for a successful hatch.

Temperature and Humidity Adjustments

Maintaining a consistent temperature and humidity level within your incubator is crucial for the hatch. Hatching conditions require temperature ranges from 99.5°F to 101°F (37.5°C to 38.3°C) and humidity levels between 65% – 70%. Remember, a temperature or humidity drop, even momentarily, could prove harmful to the embryos. Therefore, check forcefully on the incubator’s settings and limit any disruptions caused by adjusting the incubator’s door or ventilation system.

As an example, if your incubator holds 60 eggs from Rhode Island Red chickens, the rule doesn’t change. Precision in maintaining the given temperature and humidity range is paramount, no matter the breed or count.

Remember to rehydrate the incubator if the humidity level drops, as this is imperative to prevent the egg’s inner membrane from drying out, affecting the chick’s ability to break it during hatch.

Positioning the Eggs for Hatch

Proper positioning of eggs for the hatch bears significance, regardless of the incubator type or capacity. Conventionally, you’ve turned the eggs several times a day during incubation, but now it’s time to ensure the eggs are stationary, allowing the embryos to position themselves optimally for hatch.

You place the eggs on their sides with the larger, air cell part upwards. For instance, if you’ve set 12 Sussex-Mix eggs in a home incubator, align them on the incubator tray with the wider ends considerably higher than the pointy ends.

Also, create egg alignment in such a way that they don’t touch each other. A separation ensures the hatching chick doesn’t damage nearby eggs.


So, you’ve learned the ins and outs of egg incubation, especially when it comes to chicken eggs. Timing and technique are key, with constant egg turning playing a crucial role until day 18, the start of the lockdown phase. It’s at this point you’ll need to prepare for hatching, keeping temperature and humidity levels stable. Remember, proper positioning of eggs is vital, allowing the embryos to get into the best position for hatching. And don’t let those eggs touch! It’s a surefire way to cause damage during the hatching process. Now, when you’re asked, “When to stop turning chicken eggs?” you’ll know exactly what to say. You’re ready to hatch some chicks!

To achieve successful hatching, it is crucial to stop turning chicken eggs at the right time during incubation. According to Meyer Hatchery, the eggs should cease to be turned at day 18 to allow the chicks to position themselves properly for hatching. Further insights into the timing and techniques can be explored at BackYard Chickens, where the community discusses various experiences and recommendations for incubating different poultry breeds.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the significance of an egg’s incubation process?

The egg incubation process is crucial to successful hatching. It involves timing and specific techniques, such as consistent egg turning and temperature control, to ensure the egg’s proper development and survival chances.

Why is egg turning important?

Turning the eggs during the initial stages of incubation helps prevent the embryo from sticking to the shell and also aids in its proper growth. From around day 18 (lockdown phase), the eggs need to be left stationary.

What is the lockdown phase?

The lockdown phase, occurring around the 18th day, signifies a shift from turning eggs to leaving them stationary. This phase allows the embryos to position themselves for optimal hatching.

How can the environment be prepared for hatching?

For successful hatching, one needs to ensure a stable environment. This involves controlling factors such as temperature and humidity, which are crucial for the embryo’s development.

What precautions should be taken during positioning of eggs?

Proper positioning of eggs involves keeping them stationary during the lockdown phase. Also, eggs should not touch each other to prevent any potential damage during the hatching process.