How Long Does a Chick Stay in an Incubator?


An incubator is an apparatus that facilitates the artificial hatching of eggs and serves as temporary housing for newborn chicks before they're moved to a brooder. Maintaining the right temperature and humidity in an incubator is essential for the survival and growth of chicks.

Length Of Stay In An Incubator

  • Baby chicks stay in an incubator for 24 hours after they hatch. During these 24 hours, the chick fluffs out, develops some strength, begins to move around and starts to seek out food.

Incubator Temperature

  • Because a baby chick cannot maintain its own body temperature without an external source of heat, an incubator must be kept at steady, controlled temperature of 99.5 degrees F. Failure to maintain the proper incubator temperature could cause the chicks to die.

Incubator Food And Water

  • Food and water is not usually provided to chicks in an incubator. Baby chicks self-nourish, drawing sustenance from the yolk of the egg that is drawn through the navel into the chick's stomach before hatching takes place. Although they don't receive any food in the incubator, chicks develop, become more active and experience increased awareness of their surroundings. While in the incubator, chicks usually do not gain weight.

Leaving The Incubator

  • Once chicks leave the incubator, they are moved to a brooder (a heated house for chicks), where both food and water are readily available at all times. Chicks feed on a dry mash, as it is too soon in their development for them to digest solid grains.


  • Chicks that have moved from the incubator to a brooder are at risk of drowning in the water cups provided for drinking. Baby birds experience the urge to submerge themselves in water. There is no definitive explanation for this phenomenon, but some theories attribute it to birds wanting to be surrounded by fluids as they were inside the egg. To prevent drowning, place marbles over the drinking area in a shallow water dish. The chicks will easily drink around the marbles but will be unable to submerge themselves.

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  • Photo Credit "Spring has Sprung" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: jurvetson (Steve Jurvetson) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
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