Celebrate the NC State Fair – Watch Chicks Hatch Live!

Watch Chicks Hatch- Live!


The 2020 North Carolina State Fair may be cancelled but we’re still celebrating virtually!

From October 15-25, 2020, you can watch baby chicks hatch on a live feed from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day, thanks to our friends at the NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Prestage Department of Poultry Science. Check back here each day from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., and you may be lucky enough to see a chick hatch. Click the red ‘play’ button below to start the live feed.

Happy fall ya’ll!  The chick hatching booth has been such an EGGcellent exhibit at the North Carolina State Fair over the years, however in the times we are facing due to COVID-19, we want to continue the tradition through a virtual hatching experience.  Starting October 15-25 from 8:00am-5:00pm, you can witness chicks breakout from their shells from our live hatch cam!

North Carolina’s poultry industry has a huge economic contribution on agriculture, cornering nearly 45% of our state’s farm cash receipts.  To answer the question that everyone asks, “which came first”, no one truly knows, but here it is going to start with the egg.  Embryo development occurs under the correct physical and environmental conditions that results in the outburst of a chick!  Different breeds are wildly unique in various ways and exquisitely enamoring because of their cute and fluffy characteristics.  There are various twists and necessary turns along the way to becoming a chick or poult (newly hatched turkey).  The chicks featured here are of various breeds that include white leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, Barred Plymouth Rocks, Athens Canadian Random bred, and broilers.  None of the chicks hatched can be sold and will be used for teaching purposes under specific guidelines promoting animal wellness and animal welfare.



  • Every component of the egg plays a role in embryonic development- yolk, albumen (egg white), shell membranes, air cell, and shell
  • It takes 21 days for a chicken to hatch and 28 days for a turkey to hatch
  • Turning every few hours for the first 18 days is critical for the embryo to properly form and hatch. From days 19-21, the eggs no longer need to be turned.
  • Incubation temperatures may vary, but should be maintained at approximately 99F with 55% relative humidity(RH) or 85% wet bulb*(WB)



  • It takes approximately 24 hours for a chick to hatch
  • They begin hatching by piercing the air cell
  • Using the “egg tooth”, they will slowly break through the shell in a counter-clockwise motion
  • Using their feet, they will break out of the shell



  • They appear wet, lethargic, and weak
  • They are unsteady on their legs and roll around quite often ending on their backs
  • Once they are dry, they should begin to walk and take on normal behaviors such as pecking
  • Chicks can survive up to 3 days without feed or water – once they are dry, they are given access to both



What is the difference between brown eggs and white eggs?

  • There is no nutritional difference. The only difference is the color of the shell.  The color of the egg is based upon the breed of the bird.  Chickens with red earlobes lay brown eggs and chickens with white ear lobes lay white eggs


What are the different colored chicks?

  • The yellow chicks are either White Leghorn, Athens Canadian Random bred, or broilers. The black/gray chicks are Barred Plymouth Rocks.  The brown chicks are Rhode Island Reds.


What is the difference between breeds?

  • The White leghorn is a table egg layer. They will eventually lay eggs for purchase in stores.  Barred Plymouth Rocks and Rhode Island Reds are considered a heritage breed.  They are used as egg layers but appear more like a meat type bird.
  • The broilers are a meat type bird. These are grown for approximately 7 weeks and sent to a processor.  Here the meat will be graded under USDA standards and either packaged or sent for further processing (chicken nuggets).


Why is there a hole in some of the eggs?

  • Some chickens are vaccinated before they hatch. This process is call in-ova vaccination.  It typically vaccinates against Marek’s disease and Newcastle Bronchitis disease.  More commonly these vaccines also contain recombinant genes to vaccinate against other diseases depending on what disease challenges are present in specific regions where they are hatched.  Vaccines are crucial in preventing diseases or disease outbreaks and highly recommended for small flock producers or backyard flocks.


Do I need to turn the eggs daily?

  • To ensure proper embryo development, the eggs should be turned an odd number of times each day either by hand or using an automated egg turner.


Can I help my chicks hatch out of their eggs?

  • It is highly discouraged to aid in the hatching process. It takes approximately 24 hours for the chick to hatch.  Aiding a chick to hatch too early could impose serious risks to the health of the chick.


When should I move my chick out of the incubator?

  • Chicks should be completely dry with a fully closed navel before moved to a brooder.


What are the numbers on the tops of the eggs?

  • The number is simply for our purpose to know when eggs were set. It is written in pencil and not detrimental to the embryo.  Unfortunately, not all chicks will hatch therefore we assign numbers to the daily sets.  If one does not hatch, we can look at the unhatched embryo to determine if there was a problem during incubation.


Can I check to see if my chick is still alive in the egg?

  • YES! In a dark room using a small flashlight or the flashlight on your phone, CAREFULLY shine the light on the large end of the egg beginning at day 9 of incubation.  You should be able to see a well-defined, clear air cell at the large end and a dark center with some apparent blood vessels.  Move the light to the small end of the egg and you should see a secondary clear area.  At day 19-20, you can shine a light on the large end of the egg and the embryo may respond with jerks and quick movements.


*Our state not only has varieties of commercial flocks, but also small flock producers and backyard enthusiasts that commonly enjoy hatching their own flocks. It is encouraged to observe your incubation temperature using a thermometer/hygrometer.  Here we have a simple method of using a WB to determine humidity.  By using a simple kitchen thermometer and shoestring, you can determine a WB temperature.  Place the shoestring over the probe allowing a small portion of the fabric to remain in the water.  This method measures the amount of humidity in the incubator based upon evaporative cooling. The WB temperature changes based upon the incubation temperature.  For example if your incubator is set for 99.5F, your WB temperature should be at 85F to achieve 55% RH.   If your incubator is set at 98.5F, your WB temperature should be at 84F to achieve 55%.

Egg and poultry farming in North Carolina expand from the mountains to the coast and represents various components of the farming industry such as broiler chickens, turkeys, and laying hens.  The NC Egg Association is a statewide organization that was established in 1960  to assist NC egg farmers with consumer education programs about the nutritional value of eggs, the versatility of eggs and the process of how eggs get from the hen to the consumers as well as how our NC Egg Farmers are responsible stewards. North Carolina egg farmers are supplying eggs to grocery stores and restaurants for customers to have readily available. Their eggs are delivered to the stores within 24-72 hours from the time the egg is laid by the hen. NC egg farmers are proud of that because the customer is getting a fresh egg!  The association also represents their interests in critical issues dealing with the environment, state egg laws and proposed regulations in government. Eggs can be used for nutrition through direct consumption or incubated to grow the next generation.  Either way, eggs provide a substantial amount of nutrient-rich protein locally, nationally, and globally and that is why we call it the Incredible Edible Egg!


Celebrate MORE – Cast Your Vote in Our Virtual Recipe Contest

Normally, each year, at both the North Carolina State Fair and the Mountain State Fair, the North Carolina Egg Association hosts a recipe contest. Since we can’t be together in person this year, we’ve rounded up the award-winning recipes from the last 10 years, and YOU are invited to vote on which recipe you like best. Vote once each day per email address from October 15-25, 2020. The recipe that receives the most votes will be awarded Best NC Egg Fair Recipe for 2020, and the recipe creator will receive a $100 grocery gift card! The 2nd place winner will receive a $50 grocery gift card, and 3rd place will receive a $25 gift card. One lucky voter will also win a $50 grocery gift card for submitting their vote!

Click here to start voting!

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