Cautions and Advice: Hatching eggs in winter temperatures

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by NanaKat, Jan 4, 2017.

  1. NanaKat

    NanaKat True BYC Addict Premium Member

    Several new chicken folks are talking about hatching eggs they collect in fridgid winter temperatures.
    This is not the best time of year to be hatching eggs either collected or shipped.
    I'm thinking their hatch rates will be discouraging so I'm starting this thread with some information gleaned from my 20 plus years of chicken breeding and discussions with some great breeders over the years...Hope this helps improve hatch rates.

    Please add more cautions and suggestions you have to offer.

    For those incubating eggs collected during these cold winter temperatures....things to consider...
    1) roosters with any frostbite on their combs may not be as fertile until the frostbite heals
    2) Freezing temperatures can kill the embryo within an hour of laying unless collected while the hen is still covering the egg.
    3) hens use energy and nutrition from digesting feed to stay warm...this can affect the hatching vitality of the embryo in the eggs produced in cold temperatures. The quality of the shell surface is also affected.
    4) just as in temperatures over 90 degrees in summer, temps below freezing affect the fertility of your roosters.
    5) eggs are 90% lack of access to unfrozen water can be harmful to egg production and hatch ability.

    Collect your eggs frequently during the day.
    Provide plenty of water during the day...warm water added to a frozen layer helps keep it unfrozen a bit longer. I provide water three times a day in harsh temperature.
    Using cod liver oil or vasaline on combs during fridgid temperatures...good on legs prevent frostbite.
    Provide a hard grain treat in the evening so birds can generate warmth by digesting these at night...BOSS, cracked corn, wheat, etc.

    When incubating...bring eggs to room temperature and then place in the incubator...too quick a change in temperature will cause eggs to sweat or condense on the surface allowing bacteria to grow and draw inside thru the porous shell.
    To pretreat eggs for bacteria : Use a 10% Oxine spray on the eggs or a 50% Gold Listerine spray and allow eggs to dry before placing in the incubator.
    Select eggs for hatching that have a quality shell shape and surface
    Candle eggs before placing in the incubator looking for fine cracks from freezing.
    Candle at five days and again at 8 days and remove any eggs that are not growing embryos...a burst egg in the incubator is not only messy, but contaminates everything!

    I will put my breed pens together in late January and begin collecting eggs around the middle of February to incubate. Since hens can lay a clutch of eggs from breeding with a rooster, I like to expose my hens to my chosen cock for at least three weeks before selecting eggs for hatching.
    4 people like this.
  2. Karen523

    Karen523 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 7, 2015
    Sometimes I save up my hatching eggs for several days before setting them. I do this because I only have one GQF incubator and I don't want to keep opening the incubator to add eggs every day or two. I don't want to open it at all during lockdown. Should I be spraying the eggs with the Listerine solution the day I collect them, or the day I set them?
  3. Karen523

    Karen523 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 7, 2015
    Thank you for the candling tip. I never thought to candle the eggs to look for cracks before setting them. I'll be sure to do that with the next hatch.
  4. NanaKat

    NanaKat True BYC Addict Premium Member

    I use a baby hairbrush to gently clean the eggs when I collect them to hold until setting them.
    I spray them the day I set them.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  5. Karen523

    Karen523 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 7, 2015
    [​IMG] Okay, thanks
  6. Wow...great thread.....

    I am incubating Duck eggs that were laid in frigid temps....Brrr....Alberta, Canada......I collected my Duck eggs in the morning.....So far all my eggs are fertile and thriving.....I also have six Chicken eggs in the incubator but have not Candled them yet.....

    Very excited!!

    1 person likes this.
  7. Amy King Hanson

    Amy King Hanson Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 20, 2016
    Chautauqua New York
    This is AWEsome! I just learned about the Listerine spray. I have another question. While sitting eggs before incubation, what methods do you use? I know they should be turned and have humidity but trying to figure out the best way. I have a 42 egg incubator.
  8. NanaKat

    NanaKat True BYC Addict Premium Member

    I have an extra 42 egg turner on my counter where I hold eggs before incubating (actually several since I use more than one incubator.). I let the turners run. The rooms are at 70 degree F.

    Another method is to use a 1 inch piece of board to elevate one end of the bottom half of a paper egg carton. Then move it to the other end at 12 hour intervals. Changing the elevation at each end is like turning the eggs.. I use the paper cartons because they offer better air circulation/breathing of the eggs.
    I cut off the top of the carton..

    When I move eggs from incubation to hatch, depending on the breed, I will use the paper egg cartons to hold the eggs slightly upright for hatching. The paper absorbs the moisture away from the chicks/ducks. I can slip the carton inside a mesh bag for hatching to keep breeds separate during hatch as well. An active chick or duckling will get out of the carton but remain in the mesh bag or if allowed, will be all over the floor of the incubator.

    Before incubating, I will spray the eggs with either a 10% Oxine solution or a 50% Gold Listerine solution and then allow them to dry before setting them in the incubator. This seems to help with providing a simple bacteria preventive measure. I do not wash the eggs, just a soft brushing for holding and then the spray for prepping for incubation.
    Some people recommend dipping the eggs in a 10 % bleach solution...I haven't found that to increase hatching rate.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  9. NanaKat

    NanaKat True BYC Addict Premium Member

    How did your hatch go?

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