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The 4 Chicken Developmental Stages

Raising backyard chickens can be a captivating hobby. The more you delve into the chicken's life cycle, the more engrossed you become. What is behind the fascinating chicken development stages? How do baby chicks evolve into adults? What is the span of a chicken’s life?

These questions intrigue every poultry enthusiast. When you’re raising backyard chickens, understanding their life stages empowers you. Comprehending the chicken growth stages can aid you in providing the optimal food, shelter, and care they need at each specific phase.

If you’re interested in the benefits of raising chickens from eggs, gaining insight into the chicken growth stages can be beneficial. Delve deeper and transition a step closer to becoming a chicken connoisseur with this overview.

Incubation and Hatching

Whether debating if the chicken or the egg was first, it's undeniable that every baby chick begins its journey as an egg. The chick begins its embryonic development even before the mother hen lays the egg. Once chicken eggs are laid, the development pauses until favorable conditions are met, either under a broody hen or an incubator.

Post the initiation of incubation, the embryo's primary features like the head and backbone start shaping up, and organ development kicks in. By the fifth day, the embryo's organs and distinguishable features are in place.

As the days pass, you can witness wings and feet becoming prominent, and the beak solidifying. By the 14th day, the embryo gears up for the hatching process. After about 20 days, the baby chicken is primed to hatch.

At this stage, the baby chick absorbs vital nutrients from the eggshell to keep it nourished during its initial days. The hatching phase culminates as the chick pecks its way out to the world.

Baby Chicks

Post-hatching, baby chicks appear drenched and feeble, but they rapidly transition to a lively phase. If the mother hen is around, she takes charge, needing minimal human intervention. A secure nesting space and starter feed crumbs suffice for the baby chicks under her care.

For those without the hen’s protection, a brooder becomes essential, offering the necessary warmth and security. They require regulated temperatures, starting at 95°F during the initial week and gradually reduced thereafter. These baby chicks require diligent care, particularly in their living conditions. It's crucial because chicks, with their developing immune health, are susceptible to diseases like coccidiosis. Ensuring a dry environment with fresh bedding and adequate ventilation promotes their immune health and keeps diseases at bay.

You'll soon observe the baby chicks shedding their soft down and sprouting new primary feathers. Introducing a perch in their brooder and incorporating chick grit to their feed ensures their healthy growth. Yet, it's vital they continue receiving protein, amino acids, and key vitamins for optimal development.


The adolescent phase, known as pullets, spans from the fifth to the eighteenth week. During this phase, chickens exhibit many visible transformations. Their lanky legs and disproportionate bodies are typical of this age. But these pullets will continually grow, showcasing new primary feathers.

Pecking order becomes evident if you have a group of pullets. It’s wise to introduce them to the larger flock once they achieve two-thirds the adult size to avoid redundancy in establishing dominance. But ensure you monitor to prevent excessive bullying. If you have teenage males or cockerels, early introduction is preferable, especially if other roosters are present.

It's imperative to keep these young chickens on starter feed, ensuring they get adequate protein. But, be wary of feeding them too much calcium as it can hamper their growth.

Adult Hens

Upon reaching the eighteenth week, chickens enter adulthood. This phase calls for a switch to standard feed or layer feed, beneficial for bone health and laying robust eggs. Minor disputes may arise, but adult chickens soon find their rhythm.

The first year of adulthood is relatively consistent. The hens will be prolific egg layers until about 18 months. Post this, they undergo molting, which involves shedding and regrowth of feathers, replenishing their nutrient reserves. As chickens age, their vitality and egg production diminish. Elderly chickens often face health challenges like arthritis. But if you choose to keep them as pets, they can still be delightful companions and serve as pest controllers in your garden.

Understanding the journey from an egg to a mature hen offers an enriching experience. With this insight into the chicken developmental stages, and with resources from Stromberg’s Chickens, your flock is poised for flourishing years ahead. Reach out to us for all your poultry needs.


Rearing chickens is not just a hobby; it's a journey of discovery through the intricate chicken development stages. From the captivating moments of incubation to the maturity of adulthood, each stage in a chicken’s life offers unique challenges and joys.

As caretakers of these incredible creatures, we're given a front-row seat to the marvel of nature. Knowledge of these stages, from baby chick to adult hen, empowers poultry enthusiasts to provide optimal care, promoting healthy growth and robust immune health.

Backyard chickens are not just sources of fresh eggs or entertaining pets; they are a testament to the cycle of life. With the right understanding and care, they thrive, making the journey of raising them a rewarding experience.

Embracing this knowledge ensures not only the well-being of our feathery friends but also enriches our own lives with the wonders of nature.

The 4 Chicken Developmental Stages