Hatching Eggs are different than Grocery Store Eggs
I am asked on occasion if a dozen eggs from the grocery store hatch. My answer is no.
Eggs from the grocery store are from massive chicken operations which do not keep roosters, at least on purpose. Production breeds used by commercial egg operations are hatched in such abundance that no selections are made for breed standards, imperfections, overall health or longevity. So even if a rooster snuck in there and you got one to hatch, it’s really not worth an attempt.
Viability is as important as fertilization. Commercial eggs are kept in refrigeration which lowers the chance of hatching.
Can you incubate eggs from the fridge?
Yes, you can incubate eggs from the fridge collected from your own or a friend’s flock locally. I once incubated eggs that were in the fridge for over a week when a rooster unexpectedly died and I wanted some of his chicks. About half hatched. So it can be done, but does drop the viability substantially.
Collecting Hatching Eggs for Incubation from your Own Coop
First things first, you need a rooster to have fertilized eggs. This probably seems silly to say but I really have been asked this.
One rooster can service several hens. More than ten hens really ought to have two roosters in the pen. When there are a lot of hens with a single rooster, he will begin choosing favorites and not getting around to all the hens resulting in poor fertilization rates.
Once collected, hatching eggs should be stored in an upright position with the pointy end downward and kept in a room with a constant temperature between 60-75° f. It is important the eggs don’t get too warm or they may begin to prematurely incubate.
If they become too cold for an extended period, the eggs may begin to lose viability. In the colder months, hatching eggs must be collected several times a day in order to maintain a warm, dry, clean egg.
Do I need to turn the hatching eggs while I collect them to incubate?
Eggs should be moved around or tilted to keep the embryo active and from clinging to the inside of the shell wall—much like they are inside the incubator. I tilt the egg cartons each evening and tilt them the other direction in the morning.
In nature, the hen will turn them as they are laid for up to two weeks prior to her laying on them for the broody spell when she will also rearrange them a few times daily until the last week.
Why is an egg bloom important to keep intact?
To keep the eggs clean and to decrease chances of bacteria introduction, the natural bloom coating should always be left on the hatching eggs.
The bloom is a thin layer of protective created as the freshly laid egg dries immediately following its path through the hen’s vent. This layer keeps bacteria out and an appropriate amount of moisture in to lubricate the inner membranes—which is particularly important during hatch.
What do I need to do when shipped eggs arrive?
Unpack your eggs with great care. We use lots of bubble wrap taped on to each egg that will need to be cut free. Set each egg into an egg carton pointy end facing downward as they are unpacked. Leave them in the carton for 8 hours before placing the entire crate as it is into your incubator. I only do this with shipped eggs. Fresh eggs that have not been shipped can be placed in the turner immediately.
Place the eggs in your auto turner in three days, or begin to VERY gently hand turn them being very careful not to spin the egg too quickly. Go slow. I wait to candle at day 10, then again on day 18 before lockdown, removing any dud each time.
Our Hatching Eggs:
Why is there dirt on my egg? Should I wash it before I incubate?
Because our eggs are never washed there may be a tiny bit of dirt on our eggs which we leave on purposely. All eggs should be incubated just as they arrive and not cleaned by the recipient. We only collect the cleanest eggs, but hens still occasionally have dirty feet and this cannot be avoided.
In conclusion, hatching eggs are given more care which takes more time and consideration, thus increasing their cost and value. Our focus is to ship the very best quality eggs to our customers by paying attention to these details.