Every year, we host a live webcam event called 'Chickam', where you can see and hear baby chickens hatch out live, then follow their progress for a couple of weeks in the brooder box–see the link at the bottom of this page. This year we upgraded and bought a new incubator, a ReptiPro 6000. It's the size of a mini-frig and sits on our kitchen island. We use a webcam with sound to broadcast the hatching of chicken eggs, live and as it happens, followed by the cam being placed in the brooder box for about 8 weeks so you can see and hear baby chicks playing and doing their cute baby chick thing. The cam in the brooder box runs, with sound, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 8 weeks until it is time for the chicks to be turned out into the outdoor flock with the adults.

The hatch is fascinating to watch for adults as well as children, and has been quite popular (more than 16,000 viewers at once and more than 339,000 total views to date) since we started it in 2008. Hatching & baby chicks does NOT go on year-round, but only once or twice in the Spring--so don't miss it!


What’s A ‘Chickam’?

Velvet Sparrow

Due to popular demand, year-round every Saturday during daylight hours and weather permitting, we will be broadcasting Chickam showing the adult chickens out in the flock so you can follow your favorites from years' past! Use the same link below to Chickam.


Hatch A was March 20 & 21, Hatch B was March 27 & 28.  Each hatch was spread over two days so that more people had the opportunity to see eggs hatch, and so that school kids could watch–each hatch took take place on a Friday & Saturday.  After the hatches the cam was placed in the brooder box with the chicks.  I'll update the chicks’ progress on Twitter and my blog (links at the top & bottom of this page).

If you want to be emailed about a week ahead of time with a notification so that you don't miss it, please email me at my gmail address on the ‘Contact Me’ page of this site to let me know. We are in northern Nevada in the United States, so all times are PST (Pacific Standard Time). Incubation of chicken eggs takes 21 days. Mother Nature goes by her OWN schedule, so we start the the webcast as soon as we see eggs rocking and hear peeping--which can sometimes be early by as much as 24-48 hours, especially with bantam eggs which tend to hatch at 20 days. Again, my advice is for you to check the Chickam UStream site once or twice a day for 1-2 days before the hatch date to make sure you don't miss it. If you tune in and see EGGS, it means the hatch is imminent!

If we use mail order eggs, since the eggs were shipped to us via the postal service, and because of possible rough handling while enroute, just know that shipped eggs have a notoriously low hatch rate. So we don't know how many, or if ANY of mail order eggs will hatch. Eggs from our hens or that we have purchased locally are much more reliable. It all depends on what breeds we want to hatch this year. The eggs are numbered so that you can cheer on the egg of your choice, and the UStream site will have all the info as to what breed chicken eggs we are hatching this year.

NOTE: We candle the eggs several times during incubation to be sure we have live, viable chicks. Candling is the process of shining a bright light through the eggshell to check for a living embryo inside. Some of the eggs are so dark shelled, it is impossible to candle them to see if there are chicks inside, so we just have to wait and see with those!  Often I will set the cam up so people can watch the candling and see the embryos–this is done at night, in the dark for the best viewing.  Watch the Chickam Twitter feed for notification of when this will happen if you’d like to watch.

What Equipment Do We Use?

Our current incubator is a ReptiPro 6000 tabletop cabinet-type unit.  The webcam we use is a Logitech c920 Pro. We use Adobe Flash Media Encoder 3.2 which in turn runs a high-resolution stream to the online site UStream.tv, which does the broadcasting. The Ustream Chickam page has a chat feature which you can turn on or off as you see fit–we try to moderate it, but during the hatch we can get quite busy and some things may slip by.

We always start a Chickam thread on the website SomethingAwful.com on the GBS forum, which is an adult-oriented site and not for children. On SomethingAwful you need to be a member to post in the thread but you can view the thread for free. I also start a thread on BackyardChickens.com, and may also have one on Reddit.com.

How Does Hatching Work?

The incubation period for chickens is 21 days, and the incubator is programmed to maintain a temperature of 99.5 degrees.  I keep a small amount of water in the incubator to maintain a constant humidity level of 50%.  During that time I will manually turn the eggs 5 times a day–this keeps the developing chick from sticking to the shell and dying, and opening the incubator also allows ventilation into the incubator.  After 18 days, I stop turning eggs and raise the humidity to 65%, but still open the incubator 5 times a day for ventilation–this sends a signal to the chick that it is time for it to get into hatching position.  Each egg is numbered, each also has an X on one side and an O on the other.  The X and O markings are for us, an aid during incubation so we can keep track of whether an egg has been turned or not.

You should be able to see the eggs rocking and hear the chicks peeping as the eggs get ready to hatch when the cam begins. The hatch process can take hours--up to 24--so it is NOT an 'instant gratification' thing. You will see the chick 'pip' the egg first towards the large end of the egg--pecking a breathing hole. It then rests a bit while ‘draw down’ occurs–that is, the blood vessels in the egg membrane dry up and the chick prepares for hatching.  Then it will 'unzip' the shell, pecking as it turns in a circle inside the egg until it has come back to it's starting point--at which time it will struggle and kick free in a matter of minutes. Often chicks will pip, rest for anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours, then start the 'unzipping' process--which can also take many hours.  

We keep any unhatched eggs in the incubator for three days beyond the hatch date in order to catch any stragglers.  Hatching is a huge, exhaustive effort and chicks will lie there and rest for a long time once they are out.  After a while they will bumble around as they dry out and get fluffy, and get strong enough to walk around.  After a few hours we remove them to the brooder box.  During the hatch we are quite busy and aren't able to answer all questions online, but we'll try.

The ReptiPro 6000 incubator.  The digital device inside is a thermometer/Hygrometer to monitor humidity.  The device lying on top of the unit is a probe thermometer.  The probe end goes inside the purple ‘water weasel’ toy inside the incubator.  The water weasel’s job is to mimic an egg.  This gives us a better idea of the temperature INSIDE the eggs rather than outside, making for a better hatch.  You may also see a shot glass with a bit of water in it to provide humidity in the bottom of the incubator.

Other Equipment

Jack’s Henhouse

This is Sonic, our golden laced Giant Cochin hen, who gracefully stepped in and successfully brooded 5 eggs to hatch when in the final week of incubation, our brand-new ReptiPro 6000 incubator died.  The ReptiPro box was the only box I had handy in a pinch, I didn’t realize until after I’d built the emergency nest how funny it was to have a hen in there.  To their credit, when I contacted them, the ReptiPro folks stepped in and quickly replaced the defective incubator.

If we have any broody hens out in the coop, we may also place some eggs under them to hedge our bets--but since broodies stay clamped down on their eggs, you cannot watch those chicks hatch. Also, if we have a suitable broody mama for the hatched chicks once they are in the brooder box, we'll recruit her, it's SO sweet to watch a mama hen caring for her chicks!

Jack’s Henhouse

The Rules!


Just so ya know. If you feel an irresistible urge to swear or otherwise foam at the mouth, go outside and howl at the moon or something. The Chickam broadcast has become very popular worldwide.  Lots of kids watch, including my daughter and her schoolmates, and Chickam is very popular with kindergarten classes--please be considerate to all.

Especially for kids & schools, we have a special 'picture & sound only' link, below. Here are the links to the sites for the webcast, when it begins!

The UStream Chickam channel:

URL: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/chickam2008/

Chickam widescreen with no chat (best for kids):

URL: http://cdn1.ustream.tv/swf/4/viewer.228.swf?cid=1/538640&vrsl=c.4.283/

Follow Chickam on Twitter, and the Chickam Community on Facebook!!

Click on the icons at the bottom of the page!

Teachers:  I have done via the UStream Chickam channel live, educational talks on hatching/baby chicks/chickens for grade school classrooms in the past.   If you are interested in having me give one for your class, please contact me to arrange it.

     Enjoying the chickens?          Has my site helped you?

 Want to buy the chickens             some goodies?

          Click the button!

Chickam has lots of awesome fans out there, some of them are kind enough to record & upload Chickam videos & pictures.  Others have drawn pictures or created other very cool things!

In 2010 a Something Awful goon, pokute, created some 'Viva La Peep!' shirts & mugs using a picture of Yoya as a chick, she'd struck a pose in front of the flamingo lamp and it looked as if she was wearing a tiny black beret and channeling Che Guevera.  Weedcat next to her staring at the shavings underfoot.

Chickam Fans

And so ‘Viva La Peep!’ Was born!

If you want a Viva La Peep shirt or mug, go here!


We don't make any money off of these, nor does pokute. It's just a fun thing.

Jack’s Henhouse

Jack’s Henhouse

Thanks to celestialomnibus, there are many Chickam videos from years past on YouTube!

URL: http://www.youtube.com/user/celestialomnibus/videos

Chicken Breeds

Jack’s Henhouse

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