How long can an egg stay in the coop before I incubate them?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Sabz, Oct 27, 2014.

  1. Sabz

    Sabz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I tried to use the search function for this and haven't found the answer.

    I know that a difference of a few degrees for a short period of time can kill an embryo, depending on when it occurs in the life stages.

    But how forgiving is it on day 1?

    As example yesterday it was around 10-12C in the chicken coop. I caught two eggs right after they were laid and brought them back to the incubator. The third egg, I found it maybe 2 hours after it was laid, and no hen was covering the egg. It wasn't warm, nor cold like when I gather the eggs after work, it was kind of medium temp..

    So do we need to grab the egg IMMEDIATLY or they can be without heat for a few hours, right after they are laid?

    I know I'll be able to candle the egg and see if it lives, but I still would like to know what you think about it and how you gather the eggs that you want to incubate? I left my windows opened and when I heard a chick lay, I ran out to grab the egg :) But I didn't hear the last hen :(
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Those critical variations are for during incubation -- which I know little about, but there are plenty of others here who do know.

    They can be held for up to two weeks, maybe a little longer, before the incubtion process starts. But they will have their highest hatchability in the first week. It's ideal to hold them in a somewhat cool place, like 50 or 60F, but many people just hold them at room temperature. It's also good to turn them a couple times a day while holding.
     
  3. Yorkshire Coop

    Yorkshire Coop Moderator Staff Member

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    Judy is right temps are most critical when you are incubating. The embryo only begins to develop once it has reached optimum temperature for incubation. Untill that time the egg is dormant and only fertilized no embryo developing.
    I see you wrote that you collected and put straight in the incubator. If you are adding eggs at different times you will be creating a staggered hatch which can be risky and very hard work. Setting eggs all at the same time is best as they all will develop at the same time. As you add eggs at different times they will be all on different times in incubation. So that when you come to lockdown not all your eggs will be ready to be locked down as you will have some that will still require turning but lockdown ones don't need turning. Opening the icubator during lockdown is not good for them as it can cause the chicks to become shrink wrapped in the shell and unable to hatch. But then if you have high humidity that causes problems for the younger eggs as they won't lose enough moisture. Staggered hatch really is a catch 22 situation and not something I practice for all these reasons. Collecting eggs up as Judy said is perfectly fine store them in egg cartons with the pointy end down somewhere cool but not cold and turn them by propping one side of the carton up then next time you turn them put that side down and the other side up.
    Good luck with your eggs :frow
     
  4. Sabz

    Sabz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh good news, thanks a lot!

    I do understand that best practice would be to start them all at the same time, but it is my first time in autumn with the cold weather. Thanks for the information, I thought they would die if the temperature dropped between the time I picked the egg and placed it in the incubator.

    Next run, I will hold them until I have the total number I want to incubate! :)

    Nature is really fantastic.
     
  5. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    It might help to consider the way a hen goes about this process. A hen spends several days building her clutch - laying eggs in her nest - but does not start incubating them (setting) until her clutch is complete. IF left undisturbed, this means that her eggs are in the nest, patiently waiting, for a week or longer (depending on the size of her clutch) - the embryos do not begin development until the point at which she stops laying and starts setting.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2014
  6. Sabz

    Sabz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, yes it helps. I have never seen a broody hen, so I had no idea how it worked.

    This means that the last 10 eggs I took from the coop that are sitting on my table could be incubated. Can't believe I thought I had to hear the hen and pick the egg as soon as it was out! haha
     
  7. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Everyone was a beginner at some point! [​IMG]
     
  8. Toddrick

    Toddrick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I put 7 eggs in the refrigerator for two weeks before incubating them successfully. They remain dormant until you (or the hen) incubate them. I heard that the best hatch rates come from fresh, non-refrigerated eggs, but if you are hatching eggs that are older than a week or two, you will actually get a better hatch rate by refrigerating them the whole time.

    Mama hens will lay several eggs before sitting on them, so that they wull all hatch at about the same time.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2014
  9. Sabz

    Sabz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Those things are really tough :)

    Do you think we can "trick" a hen into becoming a protective mom?
    Like if I take my smoothest, gentle hen and put her with the chick at the moment that they hatch.. the chicks will bound to the first thing they see, so they would bound to her and probably follow her everywhere.

    Would she feel that they need protection and act as a mother, even though none of my hens have ever been broody?

    I wonder if anyone ever attempted this. I think I want to try..
     
  10. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    The likely result of such an experiment are rejected, and possibly injured, chicks -- a non-broody hen is not in the right hormonal state of mind to embrace chicks as anything other than interlopers who must be driven out of her space.
     
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