Eating Fertilized Eggs

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by 4kids20chickens, Apr 15, 2016.

  1. 4kids20chickens

    4kids20chickens New Egg

    Apr 15, 2016
    How long can a fertilized egg be left in the coop and still be ok to eat? We have 1 rooster and about 20 laying hens. We were out of town and our eggs were not gathered. We had 30+ eggs in total when we returned. We were gone 2 1/2 days, is it possible eggs are still ok to eat? We don't have any broody hens. Thanks!
  2. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    A fertile egg which hasn't been brooded or refrigerated is edible just as long as an infertile one in the same conditions. 2-3 weeks.
  3. 4kids20chickens

    4kids20chickens New Egg

    Apr 15, 2016
    Will the embryo be present or just a yolk like a regular egg. The only time the eggs would've been set on is when the hens were laying, as several ones like to lay in the same box.
  4. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    They will be no different from an unfertilized egg. Even if a hen had been inclined to sit on them, it would take 3-5 days for a noticeable embryo to develop. That's if a hen had been sitting on them. Eggs do not spontaneously develop because they are fertile; you could leave a fertile egg in the coop for two months and if no hens were sitting on it all it would do is rot, like a normal egg. They need to be incubated at a precise temperature and humidity for any development to occur.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    The short answer is that the eggs are almost absolutely certainly fine. Now a longer answer, same result just something to back it up and a warning and a recommendation.

    There are two things that could happen to make an egg not good. One is from a safety standpoint. If bacteria gets inside the egg, it multiplies and you get a rotten egg. Man do they stink! The temperature of the egg has a huge effect on how fast that bacteria multiplies. That’s why commercial eggs are refrigerated, at refrigeration temperatures the eggs can last a real long time.

    But a lot of us don’t even refrigerate eggs. I store mine on the countertop at room temperature. Before the bacteria can multiply it has to get inside the egg. The last thing a hen puts on an egg when she lays it is a layer called bloom. That’s what makes an egg just laid look wet, it is. But that bloom quickly dries and forms a barrier that helps keep bacteria out. That’s why a hen can lay a clutch of eggs over a two week period and then incubate them for three weeks and they still hatch. If the bacteria ever gets inside it will kill the embryo. The bloom is good enough that the bacteria hardly ever gets inside.

    I said hardly ever. Dealing with living animals there is always a hardly ever. If that bloom is compromised bacteria can find a way in. If you wash eggs or clean them with sandpaper you have removed the bloom. Those eggs should be refrigerated. Commercial eggs from the store are washed so they need to be refrigerated. Another route for bacteria to get in is if there are clumps of poop or thick mud on the egg. Thin smears aren’t bad but the thicker it is the more you have to worry. That’s why you should never incubate an egg that is very dirty. And if you get one, wash it and refrigerate it instead of leaving it on your countertop for weeks before you use it.

    The other issue is the one you are asking about, an embryo developing inside. It’s not really about safety, in some cultures partially incubated eggs are considered a delicacy. (If you are that interested, look up “balut” but beware, it’s not pretty.) Not my culture, I can’t get by the YUK! factor but they are safe to eat.

    If you look up development of the embryo (link below) you can see there is some development by day 2. By day 3 there is clear development, some people can see veining when they candle if their candling equipment is good and the egg shells are clear. Dark brown or blue/green eggs can be a challenge to see inside. But this is at incubation temperatures.

    It is a common misconception that they egg has to be at incubation temperatures for the embryo to start to develop. That’s not the case. The closer to incubation temperatures the faster the development but even in the 80’s there can be some. In the 80’s that development is going to be so slow that it will be many days before you see anything. It has to be fairly close to incubation temperatures for development to get rapid. So unless you have really hot temperatures in the coop those eggs will be fine. Not many of us are experiencing 100 degree temperatures in the coop right now. But this is why they recommend you store eggs you will later hatch at lower temperatures.

    Your concern was that the hens laying eggs will warm them up to incubation temperatures. It won’t happen unless a hen has gone broody and sits on them overnight. The egg material inside is so dense it takes a while for the egg where the embryo is located to adjust to air temperature. When the egg is laid it is at the hen’s internal body temperature but it starts to cool off. Another hen laying an egg will slow that cooling process but not enough to cause development that you can see. At night with no hen sitting on the egg it will cool to ambient temperature. There has not been enough development for you to see anything. Then even with hens on the nest laying eggs during the day the egg won’t warm back up enough in the center for any serious development to occur.

    With our eggs I always recommend that you open them into a separate bowl before you mix them with anything, whether they are fertile or not. Even unfertile eggs can have meat spots or blood spots. Commercial operations electronically candle there eggs before they package them so customers don’t get surprises when they open them. Those reject eggs are not thrown away, they are sold to bakeries or other places (at a reduced cost) that beat up the eggs before they use them. Even eggs with blood spots and meat spots are safe to use but there is that YUK! factor again. Some of us really don’t want to eat those. I’m OK with those if they aren’t too bad.

    I told you it was a long answer. I tried to not pull any punches but the bottom line is that unless the eggs are really dirty or you are experiencing temperatures in the coop really close to 100 degrees those eggs are perfectly safe and you won’t see any development when you crack them.
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