How long can I store fertile eggs before incubation?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by mswwalker, Feb 3, 2017.

  1. mswwalker

    mswwalker Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 2, 2017
    Suppose I have a few hens and a rooster. I go out one day and VOILA - there's three eggs laid (fertile).
    Now what? Do I put three eggs in an incubator immediately and just add others as I go, eventually getting into a daily chick from incubator to brooder nightmare?

    Surely there's a means to collect up a dozen or so before incubating...

    Thanks for any help,
  2. Gray Farms

    Gray Farms Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2016
    NW Missouri
    Fertile eggs are generally good up to 7 days. They can be kept for up to 10 days but viability starts dropping rapidly after 7. I myself will keep eggs for 6 days then set them. This seem to be the longest I have found over years of incubating that I can keep them and have good hatch rates. Usually 80%-90%. You can add eggs every day and they'll hatch fine, everyday like you mentioned. But raising up chicks that are different ages is difficult. Either you have several different brooders or the big chicks pick on the younger ones. Usually chicks that are about a week apart can be brooded together but and further gap in age is a problem.
  3. Ol Grey Mare

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

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    In addition to the excellent information above, the other issue with setting up a staggered hatch is the issue of lockdown. If you run an incubator and a hatcher you could work around it.
  4. Gray Farms

    Gray Farms Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2016
    NW Missouri
    I've used a hatcher so long I never even thought of that. Excellent point.
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    By all means, store the eggs for a few days and set them all together. Eggs store just fine for a week.

    When hens lay eggs, they just lay them where ever, and they set in the nest until she decides to set and start incubating them. That works in nature, so in theory you could just leave them set wherever they won't get broken. In practice, the optimal way is to store them in a carton, rounded end up, at a cooler temp but not in the fridge.

    Chances are most of them will be good well over a week, but that does seem to be the point where hatch rates go down.

    It's far better to set all the eggs at once, and have all the chicks hatch at once. Staggered hatches can be such a pain to manage, and you really don't need to.

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