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Storage of hatching eggs

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Howdy folks - I have a quick question. My rooster was attacked a few days ago defending the flock from some dogs. Looks like he will be ok, but I am suddenly in a position to hatch his girls' eggs earlier than expected, and am needing to save eggs. 


I am in a warm climate - while the temps have been changing around, the high was 68F here yesterday. I understand that hatching eggs should be kept between 50-60F. I can either keep them at about 68-70F (ambient in the house), or in part of a wine fridge at 50F. Which would be better? Should I put a clean plastic bag around the egg holders to reduce evaporation? Other tips? (I know to put blunt end up, etc.)


Thanks in advance for any input!!!


- Ant Farm

post #2 of 13
First read this. I think it goes overboard but it gives you the basics.

Texas A&M Incubation site

I think both would work. How long do you plan to store them? The longer you store them the closer to ideal conditions you need to be. The wine fridge would be closer to ideal temperature but the house temperature isn’t that bad. It’s closer than a lot of us have and most of us still do pretty well.

The longer you store them the more moisture they will lose. How dry an area they are in will influence that drying rate too. Refrigerators are often pretty dry. Your house may be too. Normally if you store them for less than a week in “normal” conditions you are OK with moisture loss but it does get important. Wrapping them in Saran Wrap or equivalent may be better than a plastic bag. I don’t wrap mine, by the way, but I store them in the house for less than a week. I put the automatic turner in a spare bedroom and keep them in there.

There are some differences of opinion on when you need to start turning them. The purpose in turning them is to keep the yolk form settling enough to come in contact with the inside of the egg shell. If it does touch the inside it can get stuck which means a dead chick if it even begins to develop. The first few days aren’t all that important but turning never hurts. It starts becoming necessary by a week or so.

 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.


 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

post #3 of 13
Thank you for the Link and for your suggestions. We are also new to this and have golden laced wyandottes hens and a rooster. They normally do not live together, but they are a trio that we want to get offspring from. Right now, they are getting reacquainted through a fence, but they will be back together in a few days. I've read all different papers, but how long do you think we should leave them together before we start to see fertile eggs? We really only need to collect about two dozen, so once we think they are fertile, we will collect enough until we reach that point. Hopefully, we get around 50% to hatch, but this is our first time hatching our own.
post #4 of 13

Hey from another mild winter fellow.


I think your room temp is fine.  See if there's a spot that stays a little cooler- perhaps the closet,  the extra bedroom or....


I cannot stand the cold very well- 68 is too cold to me so during winter my house is usually a bit on 'warmer than recommended' for egg storage.  What I do is store them outside in a safe place.  I do bring them indoors for the really cold nights- below 40F.  Otherwise they are stored outdoors the whole time until setting.


Turn once a day-  I usually collect eggs once a day and turn the previous eggs the same time as the new eggs are added.


I've used various things in the past- a simple bucket, a strong storage container etc...  lately I've been putting them on egg flats and simply stack them.. easy to 'turn eggs' by tilting the whole stack from one side to the other, just like how cabinet incubators do.


eggs are surprisingly hardy, it is not necessary to stress very much over them.. as long as they do not freeze they will be allright.   They will tolerate night time of 40 with day time reaching 70 just fine..  after all they are subjected to those temps and more in hidden nests and the hens still hatch them.....   As long as the eggs are usually kept "cool" they will store well.


Hatchability does start drop from about 2 weeks onwards with eggs week or less usually giving the very best results.


btw if you need to lay the eggs horizontal like on the wire racks in the wine cooler, this is allright, just be sure to turn them at least once a day.

post #5 of 13
It takes about 25 hours for an egg to go through the hen’s internal egg making factory. That egg can only be fertilized in the first few minutes of that journey. That means if a mating takes place on a Thursday, Thursday’s egg will not be fertile. Friday’s egg might be, might not, depending on the time of mating and when the egg started its journey. Don’t count on it. Saturday’s egg will be fertile.

 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.


 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

post #6 of 13

That's along the lines we were thinking.   I thought we could be assured by day 4 that we would have fertile eggs, but three makes sense.  Thanks!

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks, everyone! I'm following Gail Damerow's excellent book on Hatching and Brooding Your Own Chicks, which indicates that it's not such a big deal unless you want to hold them longer than 6 days, after which you need to start turning them and wrapping in plastic, etc., or rates drop. It's just that she indicated that temp. range. Any other way to reach that temp for me would also include either temperature swings or condensation, so I may go with coldest part of the house and leave it at that.


I've been collecting three days (though I may not keep the first one from the first day), and will only collect through 6 days anyhow. I have them in a clean plastic egg carton (not sealed tight though - no condensation). Eggs are clean. I have them in an unused shower stall in the coldest part of the house (coldest in winter, which is why that shower stall is unused this time of year!) I think I'm just going to try with this approach and see how it goes. :fl Since I'm simultaneously tending the rooster, simplicity is a plus. 


It's all new to me - so much to learn! Getting my new incubator sanitized and up and running this weekend to check out its function (and make sure I understand it!). I find myself wondering if I can keep eggs from the three different girls separated somehow in this incubator (Brinsea Octagon 20) - some research and problem solving to do! I'm egg-cited! :weee


(BTW, Dumbledore, who may get renamed Captain America, is doing very well, and crowed in the house this morning - how's that for an alarm clock?! But he has zero tail and backside, and will definitely have tail/backside scarring from dog bites though cloaca is ok/intact, so no idea what his future mating effectiveness will be. Definitely want to save his genes - Cream Legbar, only real defect is a slightly crooked comb, polite and solicitous to hens who adore him, amazing protector, and the vet said he was one of the best behaved roosters she'd ever treated (even when he was in pain). He earned his purple gizzard! I could get more from his line (known for these "good rooster" characteristics) from his breeder, but I want HIS babies! :love


- Ant Farm 

post #8 of 13

Honestly....  even eggs 2 weeks old can have excellent hatch rate if stored reasonably well.  So if there's room, go ahead and put 7-10 day old eggs in the incubator.


I would turn the eggs anyways, to create and maintain a habit of doing so.


You also have to consider the issue of hen fertility starting to drop off about 2 week-ish but fertility can still be high for 3 weeks. Save all the eggs instead of only the freshest(which may have more infertiles) in this case. 


If real concerned, try candling at 3 days to check for infertiles for immediate replacement.


Turn on the incubator already or as soon as you get it.. you want to familiarize with how it holds the temps, if the temp is correctly calibrated etc.   Put in store eggs so will more accurately show how well it works.  


The rooster will be fully fertile. Rumpless roosters are capable of breeding normally.  He is not rumpless and as long as he has full use of his legs, he will be back on the hens no problem.  You probably will be surprised at how well chicken skin recuperates. 


Good luck with both the eggs and the roo!

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Kev!!!


BTW, Here's my super hero. I can't help but post pics of him here, as I'm so proud of him.:love





After (same day of attack):


- Ant Farm 

post #10 of 13

Ouch, that's one example of classic dog damage.   Poor thing, doesn;t look like he was too injured?


He'll be back in magnificent feather as in the before pic.

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