Incubation Course

Incubation Course and Chick Rearing

Chick rearing in a brooder

Raising Chicks

Our new incubation course which also covers chick rearing, is another in our series of poultry courses. This hatching course takes you on a step by step journey through everything you need to know about how to raise chicks. We then guide you through how to hatch baby chicks successfully. Our incubation course covers all aspects of how to hatch chicks whether you choose to use a broody hen or an egg incubator.

Why hatching your own chicks is safer

If you already keep chickens and would like to expand your flock it is a good idea to grow your own. Hatching chicks adds another dimension to your chicken keeping enjoyment. Raising your own chicks means that you can ensure that you know exactly how healthy they are. Buying birds in always has an unknown element as you can never know how well they have been raised. Doing it yourself involves less risk to your existing flock because you don’t add any possible disease from outside sources.

Hatching chicks is a Truly wondrous experience

We have been hatching chicks by using both incubators and broody hens for more years than we care to mention. Suffice to say that we are quite addicted because it is such a wonderful experience. Being responsible for incubating a chicken egg and for it to turn into a cute and fluffy chick is not all plain sailing. You need to have the right equipment and you need the right plan of action. Things can go wrong from time to time and our incubation course will help you through all of them.

Our Chick Hatching course is new

We have been running chicken keeping courses for some time but we felt that the time was right to step back in time and teach people how to produce and rear chicks. This incubation course has been in the planning stage for about a year but we have finally polished it enough to publish it. It is somewhat longer than our original course as it goes through different life phases, all of which need clear explanation. Young chicks are very delicate so do need special care. These phases all present their own particular action points. As with all living things, there are challenges to overcome and we cover these in full detail in our hatching course.

Brief Hatching Course Outline

  • Incubators and their features
  • Broody hens – how to tell
  • Looking after your broody
  • Hatching eggs
  • Sourcing eggs
  • Incubator settings
  • Humidity
  • The hatching process
  • Brooder equipment and the dangers
  • Feeding your chicks
  • Troubleshooting the hatch
  • Chick First Aid
  • Growing chicks
  • Sexing your chicks
  • Everything you need up to 2 weeks old and beyond
  • Much much more besides

The incubation and chick rearing course is designed to be very comprehensive and yet very easy to understand. We have split it into self-contained bite-sized chunks so that they can be leisurely learned over a nice cup of coffee. Each lesson includes a quiz to test your expanding knowledge along the way.

Metallic Join now icon for our hatching course

Price of the course is £45 with immediate access – Join today!

There are a lot of useful online resources to do with the latest innovations in the poultry world. We can recommend registering on Poultry World to read their news articles as poultry keeping is always evolving.

Poultry Courses

Our Poultry Courses are Your Shortcut to chicken Enlightenment

We have been running Chicken Keeping Courses for over 10 years now and we are now expanding into other kinds of related poultry courses. Our courses are designed to offer the sort of information that we were looking to find when we first started keeping chickens. We found that even though we bought many many books on the subject, they still left gaping holes in what we wanted (or ought) to know. Most of our questions went unanswered, even questions we didn’t have a clue that we SHOULD be asking. This page is somewhat of an introduction for what we are now doing.

Why do you need to take a course?

Well quite simply – you don’t. Your alternative is to scavenge loads of information from Google, Facebook, websites, blog posts, videos, Youtube and good old books. If you have already started on this alternative plan, you will no doubt be wading through mountains of dead ends, and piecemeal information. Then you will need to collate it into some sort of reference. All well and good. However, you will have noticed that there are loads of armchair experts on these various channels – so who do you believe? Who or what is the best source of information – and by that we mean – correct information. How do you know which information is dangerous, expensive, or even a total waste of time. Our courses have cut through all the dross, misinformation and plain lunacy so that you can start your new venture from a position of power. Knowledge is power as they say.

Our Poultry courses are now online

Our poultry courses are online offerings. We have sourced a professional learning management system like they use in schools, universities and colleges to power our courses so they run brilliantly and efficiently. This gives our students a great learning experience.

Great content

We have crammed masses of information into our poultry courses so that no stone is unturned. Our message has no guff and no fluff – no frustration and no hassle. The content is clear and concise and very easily understood. Our poultry keeping courses are broken down into nice bite size chunks and each lesson is followed by a quiz to test your increasing knowledge. Each self-contained lesson can be studied over a very leisurely cup of coffee.

Benefits to you

You get access to convenient and accurate information. Time is precious, so why waste it going round in circles? Getting the equipment right first time is a game changer and won’t hurt your pocket as much as failing to understand the needs of your chickens. Getting it right means you spend less time trying to make a silk purse out of a sows ear.

Benefits to your chickens

Your chickens will be happier, healthier and safer.

foundation Chicken Keeping Course – Online

Cost: £45

Typical Brown Hen

Aimed at beginners but also those who want to get more involved and knowledgeable with their chickens.

You will Learn:

  • What sort of coop is beneficial to both you and your chickens.
  • What kinds of runs are good buys and those that are definitely not.
  • What equipment you absolutely need.
  • What equipment is ill advised.
  • What equipment will save you time and money in the long run.
  • Cleaning – when, and how often.
  • Disinfecting.
  • Pest control and predator avoidance.
  • Which products you need and what you don’t.
  • Maintaining good health and welfare of your birds.
  • How to spot illnesses.
  • Chicken first aid.
  • Avoiding vets bills, but know when and why you need to call a vet.
  • How to spot a cockerel so you don’t get scammed by unscrupulous sellers.
  • What to feed and how and why.
  • The law on chickens.
  • The rules on egg sales.
  • Chicken breeds and who lays what.
  • Chicken behaviour – good and bad.
  • The pecking order – yes it’s a thing!
  • Avian influenza precautions and legal obligations
  • This is just a very small snapshot of what we cover

Incubation and Chick rearing Course – Online

Cost: £45

Chick Hatching Course

Aimed at those who would like to know how to incubate your own chicks. Includes guidance in how to raise chicks correctly and successfully.

You Will Learn:

  • How to use different methods such as natural or artificial incubation.
  • How to select your hatching eggs
  • How to prepare your fertile eggs for incubation.
  • The various types of incubators – the good and the bad.
  • How to run your incubator and what the settings need to be.
  • How to manage your incubator for each stage of incubation and hatching.
  • How to monitor your eggs during the incubation phase.
  • What to expect on hatching day.
  • Incubator and brooder electrical safety.
  • How to deal with a broody hen and what sort of conditions suit her and the chicks best.
  • How to provide the correct conditions to ensure the survival of your delicate chicks
  • How to ensure that they come to no harm
  • What they need as food and how to provide the basics for a good start in life
  • How to spot abnormalities in chicks and how to successfully fix the most common types.
  • Ongoing chick care up to the age of 2 weeks and beyond.
  • How to tell the difference between hens and cockerels.

Face to Face chicken Keeping Course

Cost: £45 per student or £85 for 2 students as you can share notes

Poultry Keeping chicken

Aimed at beginners and those who want to expand their knowledge of chickens and their needs

You will Learn:

  • We are not currently doing any face-to-face courses due to Covid 19 and also the higher biosecurity requirements of the current Avian Influenza rules
  • The syllabus is broadly similar to the online version, but due to time constraints we cannot do the course in as great a depth as the online version.
  • We do have a section whereby we have a very hands-on session with chickens
  • How to assess the health of a chicken based on what you can see, hear and smell.
  • The course has the added advantage of light refreshments included.
  • Our face to face course is more interactive as questions can be asked immediately.
  • We plan for it to last for 3 and a half hours but we generally overrun.
  • The social aspect makes this version of our course very enjoyable for both us and you.
  • When things calm down in terms of Covid and Avian Influenza we will be starting the face-to-face courses back up again.


We have been privileged to receive the comments below from our students

What Others Have Said

Hen Keeping Course
By: Ann Burt

Really useful

By: Paul Lawless

I have been considering keeping chickens for some time. I have read books, googled information and watched loads on YouTube but this course has been a revelation. Really well structured, all the right information you need on health, housing, feeding, anatomy, breeds etc etc. I have really enjoyed it and recommend to anyone considering doing the same. Now I am setting up and ready to take in my first girls in a couple of weeks. I would not have had the confidence to do this without this brilliant course.

Best way to learn about chickens
By: Brigitte Koopmann

I loved the course and learned so much. You cant find anything near it via books or youtube clips. I highly recommend this course and it is worth every penny. You can feel how much these people adore and care for their chickens. Herzliche Grüße und vielen Dank

Extremely useful course
By: Lauren Driver

This is a great course for anyone looking into getting chickens or to help refresh/ give advice for people who already have chickens. Lots of useful information for different methods on how to house and care for chickens. Definitely would recommend.

Extremely useful and informative
By: Sharon Parry

This course has given me a good broad base of information I need in order to start off my chicken journey as well prepared as possible. Lots of useful information and tips, which I will be following. Can't wait to get started.

Eggcelent Course
By: Thomas Clarkson

I had high eggs-pectations of this course and it was definitely worth it. The yolks on you if you don't get this course. lots of helpful information.

Great course
By: Judith Bye

I decided to take this course before taking the plunge and rehoming some rescue hens. I have completely changed my mind on the coop and run size after completing the course and I am now looking forward to getting some rescue hens. There is so much more to keeping chickens than I thought and this course provides you with that knowledge. Definitely worth taking.

By: Sue Woodhead

This course was super informative. Since doing the course I now have my first 4 rescue chickens and it helped me prepare for their arrival. I have referred to the lessons since collecting them and it has made me more confident. My girls (Whitney, Britney, Kylie and Missy) have had a really good transition and settled in well.

A Really Great Course!
By: Carolyn McCormick

I highly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in keeping chickens. It is crammed full of most useful facts and practical advice from experts who are passionate about chickens and keen to share their knowledge and experience with other interested parties.

Very useful course, so glad I took it!
By: Suzanna Mavity

I bought this course online as I want to get some chickens for the garden. I’m so glad I did this before buying anything, it completely change my mind and perspective on equipment and it has saved me a lot of bad decisions! So useful.

Excellent Course
By: Stacey Melia

After completing the course I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is considering getting chickens. It covers every aspect of what is required and gives easy to understand advice and information in nice bite sized chunks so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. I discovered there is a lot more to keeping healthy chickens than I thought and this course will prove invaluable going forward.

Great Course
By: Charlotte Stray

I have learned a great deal from this course and have already recommended it to a friend. Anyone thinking of keeping chickens should take this course.

Fantastic course
By: Louise Clifford

Well worth the money! I have learnt so much from this interactive course which I'd never have been able to do by reading books. I feel much more confident and prepared to start my chicken keeping journey. Highly recommend.

Brilliant Course!
By: Julia Holmes

The Online Chicken Keeping Course is such a good course for someone thinking about keeping chickens. There is so much to consider and this course covers it all, set out in an informative and easy to understand method. It is extremely good value, considering the amount of content. I cannot recommend it more highly

Very informative course.
By: Nick Wright

I have read several books on basic chicken keeping, but I have found this course to be the most comprehensive. I have changed my plans and moved away from an Eglu coop due to the advice given on the course. I also found the day-to-day sections useful to help work out how much time I would need to spend on daily/weekly cleaning etc. The advice on the different types of bedding was especially useful. I have made a note to purchase hemp or Probed bedding with some bio-dry to make cleaning easier.

Incubator Hire News

Brahma garden hen

An incubator hire story

Early in March 2019 we had an incubator hired out at Wirral Hospice St John’s in Bebington. I was a bit apprehensive to take it to somewhere that I felt might be quite a gloomy place given the massive healthcare issues the patients face. I could not have been more wrong. It is fair to say that they became ever so excited to witness the hatching of their eggs. Work stopped in favour of egg watching, you can feel the excitement in the air. The hot topic amongst patients and staff alike is not medical – it’s eggs and it’s chicks. The last thing on the patients’ minds was medical matters. They definitely are in the grips of chicken fever.

Hatching begins

On Monday 12th March the 21st day of the incubator hire period, the first chicks emerged to greet the world. But the rest are still to hatch so the incubator must remain closed to make sure that the humidity remains constant.

Conserving humidity

The way an egg incubator works is you need to wait until all the eggs have hatched before you can open it up to get at the chicks because otherwise you lose the humidity. Chicks need the humidity to keep their shell membranes soft so they can break through them. Moisture laden air also assists the chick so it is able to spin inside the egg to unzip the top by creating a crack all the way round to make an escape hatch. Any remaining egg yolk is absorbed by the chick into its body before hatching and they live off it for the first 48 hours. The early birds are safe to remain in the incubator until the rest of the batch of eggs catches up.

And there’s more!

A day later passes and another 4 chicks have hatched. The brooder has been delivered and installed and there was a rush of staff to the incubation site so they could get their first experience of handling a bundle of cute fluffiness. There is much distraction around, staff making excuses to just have a peek on their way to another task. Patients with families and friends ogling the little tweeting fluffballs and a real sense of pride that they have produced their own little creatures. The incubator hire was a winner in more ways than one.

Therapeutic benefits of chickens

From what I have seen in care situations, chicks bring a sense of new beginnings. This is true for the elderly or the lonely or those who are very sick or dementia sufferers. They bring a real joy to those who witness it. It is something that I never tire of. It is no wonder that care institutions are bringing hens in as therapy. They are a source of chatter, where once there was none, and a thrill of excitement where there was numbness or loneliness. A humble chicken can provide a sense of being needed and of purpose. This is the superpower of a creature that seems to know exactly the right things to say to make all other problems seem to melt into the background. Chickens bring a feeling of well-being, cooperation and togetherness to all those involved in their care – such is their magic.

If you need convincing watch this video by View our incubator hire packages here

The Hen Men from Equal Arts on Vimeo.

Coops for the less mobile

We have just started to stock these coops called Henlays Chicken Coops. They are easy to clean because there is no stooping or bending needed to make sure they are clean. We think they suit the needs of a care/medical/support organisation more than any other coop we have yet seen. Check this page for more info or view the specifics on our shop page

Spread the love

If you know of someone or somewhere that can benefit from the therapeutic benefits of these bridge-building creatures please ask us to see if we can assist you get up and running via our contact page. They don’t call them a gateway livestock for nothing.

Waiting List

Waiting List Image

Waiting List Information

Our waiting list is a mailchimp list whereby we can send an email to all our waiting list subscribers who would like to know as soon as we have some chickens for sale. You can find the waiting list option on our contact form here


We have plenty of stock at the moment of all ages so the waiting list is not needed. Please contact us if you wish to purchase hens via our contact form or call us on 01244-/646/026


Wrapped up chicken
A chicken is the gift that keeps on giving

Covid 19 and Avian Influenza

Many people decided to take up chicken keeping once covid hit us and Avian Influenza raised its head again over the winter of 2021/2022. Both events have taken their toll on general chicken supply. Breeders have slowed down quite a bit or stopped over winter and so did we. We only started incubating this year since April so we have young stock rather than point of lay. Demand is brisk but mainly for point of lay birds which obviously take some time to grow. In response to the almost weekly rising price of feed, many poultry breeders are cutting their losses and reducing their breeding flocks.

This year 2022

So far in 2022 we have been getting deliveries of Black Rocks from the Muirfield Layers hatchery in Scotland. They also do a Brown Rock which is a Rhode Island Red over Light Sussex resulting in a brown chicken with a black tail. We are hatching as fast as our incubators allow so there is usually something we can offer you. Give us a call on O1244646O26 to find out what is available or to ask any questions.

How old are chickens when we sell them?

Chicks are sold whenever people want them. Unsexed chicks are available from day old. (There is a risk that they could be cockerels so please bear that in mind). We can determine the sex of our chicks at 6-8 weeks old and we offer a hen guarantee with those. Any that turn out to be boys will be swapped in line with our guarantee. We don’t swap boys when we have specifically sold them as unsexed. If you are looking for hens (albeit rather cute youngsters) then take a look at our latest stock post. We update our availability here on our blog page. We will be having Ixworth, Swedish Flower Hens, Coronation Sussex and Salmon Faverolles. Various hybrids will be available at some stage during year. We also have “guest” hatchings of breeds such as Cream Legbar, or Marans from time to time.

Essential things to do while you are waiting

Research the Care Requirements by joining our Instant Access Online Course

While you are on our waiting list, you may wish to research some good chicken husbandry minimum requirements. Chickens don’t require much but they do require the correct care to enable them to lay well and remain healthy. Get a jump start in your chicken knowledge by looking into doing our online Chicken Keeping Course. The course can also make you realise that perhaps chicken keeping is not for you once you have more knowledge on the subject. This is a two edged sword because if your heart isn’t in it, you will have wasted money on setting yourself up to no avail if you decide at a later date that it doesn’t fit into your lifestyle. Either way it is money well spent.

Day Old and Young Chick Care Research

If you are looking for day old chicks or young chicks then it is very wise (essential) to consult our blog article on the care needs of these more delicate creatures. We will be asking for proof of your preparedness. It you don’t get the conditions right to look after young chicks, they will die. We have another course running on incubating and rearing chicks if you want to start from scratch.

Horror Stories

It is coming to our attention that some people are of the opinion that they can just dump chickens in the garden and they will stroll around popping out some eggs every day. Chickens require housing for safety and also some weather protection. We have been hearing of people feeding them on old bread and left-over takeaway rubbish. Their welfare needs to be high priority so this is quite shocking. Chickens need to be fed well with a diet that is properly formulated and best suited for avian digestive systems. They are not feathery dustbins. Feeding them household scraps is not legally allowed and is certainly not going to give them a diet which will allow them to be their most productive or healthy. Based on the saying rubbish in, rubbish out; with hens it is definitely rubbish in, nothing out.

Attend to Foxproofing as high priority

Most important is how to avoid your new hens from becoming a convenient take-away snack for a hungry fox or badger. Check out our chicken foxproofing post for tips to safeguard your chickens

Avian Influenza Current Information

We have a blog page devoted to the current regulations relating to Avian Influenza which had raised its head again in the winters of 2020/21 and 2021/22 in the UK. Make sure you are up to date with what you MUST do to comply with the current laws. There are unlimited fines and probably imprisonment for those not heeding the requirements. There are currently no housing restrictions in place BUT it is always wise to be prepared so building a confinement area that is big enough for the birds to be happy will stand you in good stead should an avian lockdown be forced. It might not happen every winter but if it does then this forward planning will allow you to feel quite smug and prepared.

How to get notified of new stock

Please use our Contact page to be added to our waiting list. Tick the waiting list option along with the “opt-in” to give us permission to contact you. Our mailing lists, which are infrequent, have an easy unsubscribe link to unsubscribe at any time. We do not wish to annoy you by emailing you unnecessarily. Please know that we take your privacy very seriously and will not spam you without permission. As we say, spam is for fritters and we hate fritters.

Update your Chicken Coop equipment

We are now stocking fabulous coops called Henlays Roost which are easy to clean and are easy to manage from a Red Mite eradication perspective. If you need to have a lie-in in the morning instead of living in “chicken-time” then invest in a Chickenguard. This will let your chickens out at a time of your choosing so you don’t have to rise with the lark at stupid o’clock. It will also shut them away safely at night thus rushing back to close your coop is now a thing of the past. We now have Chickenguard for sale on our web shop. Green Frog Designs have approached us and we are happy to be providing these coops also in the very near future.

Hatching Eggs

Hatching eggs in incubator

Hatching Egg Availability

Please note that our hens are having a moult and a well earned rest from October to February so no hatching eggs will be available until Spring 2022

Hatching Eggs from our flock of lovely chickens are available as shown below:

Fertile eggs for hatching are available throughout the year, however some breeds are on shorter supply than others. If you are looking for a particular breed please get in touch via our contact page

Supply warnings

Our eggs are no more than a few days old at most and are available for collection directly from us. Collection in person is much the best way to get your eggs for hatching.

Alternatively we can post them. It should be noted that Mr or Mrs Postperson may not be very gentle with your hatching eggs despite our very careful packaging. Fertile eggs can suffer broken or ruptured air sacs, or displaced yolks if they are vigorously shaken. This can drastically affect your hatchrate. If the postal service has mistreated the parcel then you will get at best a poor hatchrate or even no hatch rate at all. This is entirely beyond our control unfortunately.

We hatch throughout the year from our own eggs so know that the fertility is good.

Choice or reliability of your incubator and incubation method is also a major factor in a successful hatch. Again, this is totally beyond our control and is no reflection on our egg viability.

Eggs will be posted on Monday through to Wednesday each week only. This avoids them sitting in sorting offices over a weekend. We sell them for £2.00 each. Postage and packing is extra and will depend on the weight and size of the parcel.

Hatching egg returns policy

Please note that our eggs are supplied as believed fertile because we hatch regularly throughout the year. However please view our returns policy before purchasing because we can offer no guarantees on the success or failure of the eggs. This is especially true for posted eggs. To rule out any spurious claims we need to verify the eggs as ours and their opening up during a Zoom call. We ask that you DO NOT crack open any suspect eggs if you are wanting to raise a dispute before the Zoom session. This is regrettably because we have been scammed in the past by some dishonest people.

Hatching Eggs breeds

  • Swedish crosses: Swedish boy running with, Ancona and Araucana hens. Eggs will be either blue or pale cream
  • Cochin eggs: Cochin boy with Cochin females in Blue, Black, and Blue Splash. Chicks will either be blue or blue splash
  • Ixworth eggs: Very rare breed of dual purpose chicken.
  • Faverolles eggs: Salmon and Blue Salmon or mottled. Colour will be one or the other. Short supply
  • Swedish Flower Hens eggs: Mixed colour hens as they are meant to be. The flock is crested and uncrested so the chicks will be either.
  • Sussex: Boy is a Coronation Sussex running with coronation and light sussex hens. Chicks will be either light or coronation coloured.

Our hens are classed as large fowl light and large fowl heavy. The Cochins and Faverolles are all heavy breeds.

We can also have fully automatic incubators and brooders to hire help you hatch and raise the baby chicks safely and successfully

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