How long can fertile eggs sit and still potentially hatch?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by PBlanck, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. PBlanck

    PBlanck Out Of The Brooder

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    Here is my predicament. Three weeks ago three of my five hens went broody. They live in two different pens.

    I was anxious to hatch my first chicks so I ordered some eggs on-line. I simultaneously changed one of the nesting arrangements to make it less of a shelter and more of a nesting box.

    The day they arrived I put some eggs in each of the nesting areas. The brooding hen that did not have its nesting box changed immediately took to sitting and has now been on them 9 days (I am going to candle soon). But the other two hens would not sit on the eggs. Several nights went by and they still would not sit on them so I changed their entire nesting area back to how it was in the first place thinking they just were not comfortable with the change. But they still won't sit. It has now been 9 days and I keep thinking if they sit on them soon it will still be OK. Our weather has been decent in that time period with lows in the mid 20s and highs in the mid 40s and 50s.

    So how much more time do I give them? As best as I can tell they are not laying any eggs so I think they are still kind of broody. The only other thing that comes to mind is I switched them from straw to wood shavings so I will change that back tonight.

    But can I leave the eggs in there for 2 weeks? 3 weeks? 4 weeks? How long before they are no longer viable?
     
  2. fried green eggs

    fried green eggs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    From everything I have read, the hatch rate drops to near zero for eggs older than 10 days. The eggs need to be stored in temps from 50-65 degrees F and turned 2 - 3 times a day during storage. Some might hatch but, the longer stored the less chance they will have.
     
  3. PBlanck

    PBlanck Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 8, 2012
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    Thanks for the reply, even though it is not what I wanted to hear.

    But maybe some good news...

    Last night I went out to change the wood shavings back to straw and checkout the eggs. There was a hen sitting on them! So I guess now I just wait and hope it is not too late. Unfortunately the location is something I intended for shelter from the wind, not laying eggs, so I really will not have access to the hen or the eggs without lifting it up and over the hen's head. When I did that last night she took off running (she returned when I was done). So I probably will only candle them around day 14. If any are viable at that time I will leave those and probably won't mess with it again until baby chicks walk out the front door.

    I candled the other eggs and I have some viable eggs! It will be my first hatch and it should fall on Easter weekend.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Hatchability decreases the longer you store them. I’ve heard anywhere from 7 days, 10 days, and 2 weeks as when the hatchability really drops, but the better conditions they are stored in the better your chances.

    Some sources say you don’t have to do anything for seven days, then if you store them, you need to turn them daily. I think there is general agreement that somewhere around 55 degrees is the optimum temperature to store them, but that does not mean they won’t hatch if you store them cooler or a little warmer. I’ve heard from someone I trust that how big and how often they go through a temperature swing has an effect, maybe more than the temperature they are stored at. What humidity they are stored in has an effect too.

    There are a lot of things that can affect hatchability. Even a drop in hatchability does not mean none will hatch, just that it is less likely that you will get a good hatch. Many of us violate some of these recommendations some and still normally get good hatches. But the more you violate them, the better your chances of a bad or zero hatch.

    Best I can tell from your post, I think those eggs are probably at or just over 2 weeks old. If they froze it may not be really good, but I think your overall plan is a good one. Try it and candle to see how it goes. What do you have to lose and you might actually get a few chicks. I would not expect many, but a few is better than none.

    Good luck!
     
  5. newcutesgaw12

    newcutesgaw12 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 19, 2013
    thoughts it was ten days.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Like everything else chickens, you'll get different answers for how long before hatchability noticeably drops. I think part of it is how they are stored. temperature, humidity, turning, things like that.

    Besides, the OP's question was potentially hatch, which is a different question than when hatchability starts to drop.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
  7. jenifern

    jenifern Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have had viable/fertile eggs that were stored in the fridge for 2 weeks before incubation and grew into chicks and hatched fine. I have had others that were laid fresh that morning, put under a broody hen right away, yet never amounted to anything. You will get differences of opinion for sure, but if you bought the eggs and have a hen who is now willing to sit on them it's worth a shot. Good luck!
    [​IMG]
     
  8. Blue Farm

    Blue Farm Out Of The Brooder

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    i just candled some pekin eggs i stored for 16 days until i got enough to set only on are two were laying ,but there all showing signs of fertility at this point 8th day of incubation. ended up with 12.
     
  9. Blue Farm

    Blue Farm Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 1, 2012
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    one are two hens were laying sorry should proof read.
     
  10. PBlanck

    PBlanck Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 8, 2012
    Kansas City, MO
    I appreciate the answers. Since she has decided to sit on them it is just a matter of waiting 14 days and see what the candling shows. If any are viable I will let her continue with those eggs. If not then I know that it is safe to clean up the eggs and discard them. i will keep my fingers crossed.
     

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