How to tell if a egg is fertile to go into the Incubator

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Cubsfan, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. Cubsfan

    Cubsfan New Egg

    Mar 3, 2016
    Good Morning Everyone,
    I gotten into raising chickens last year, I got a small little flock that I have now of about 24 hens and 2 roosters. I have recently purchased a incubator. My question is how do you tell if the egg is fertile to be able to go into the incubator to be hatched. Also what would be a good number of eggs to try for my first time? If the eggs are fertile, how should I store them until I am ready to put a bunch into the incubator at one time? Thanks everyone, I'm looking forward to the new journey of egg hatching I am about to start.
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    [​IMG] Prior to incubation the only way to tell if an egg is fertile is to open it and look for the 'bulls eye' on the yolk. Since that is self defeating as far as incubation goes, just collect your eggs and incubate them - then candle after about 7 days to check for development. The number of eggs that you incubate will depend upon the number of chicks that you want. Store eggs at moderate temperature and humidity in clean trays and turn daily until you have enough to start the incubation. Some recommend incubating eggs before they are 7 - 10 days old, but I have had good success with eggs that were as much as 21 days old. Do not incubate excessively dirty eggs. Good luck.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Here is a thread that shows pictures of the bull’s eye. If most of the ones you open are fertile most of the ones you don’t open should also be fertile.

    Fertile Egg Photos

    It’s very important, especially your first time, to gather all the eggs you want to hatch before you start incubation and start them all at the same time. Some people don’t do that and then get all stressed out about turning, humidity, and opening the incubator to take chicks out. The incubator can also stink after a few days of chicks hatching and pooping in there. You don’t need that kind of drama your first hatch. I think you already know this but it’s important enough to emphasize.

    There are a lot of different guidelines about what the ”ideal” storage conditions are. I’ll give you a link but remember those are ideal conditions. Most of us don’t have facilities to do that, just try to get as close as you reasonably can. I consider a lot of this to be over the top.

    Texas A&M Incubation site

    Some examples. The ideal storage temperature is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t have any place close to that. The best I can do is room temperature, say the low to mid 70’s. I’ve had some really great hatches storing them like that.

    Where you store them should be fairly high humidity. I sure don’t have that where I store them.

    Supposedly you don’t need to turn them the first few days but after a while turning becomes very important. Also, it really is best to store them fat side up so the air cell stays where the chick can find it when it tries to internal pip. I store mine in my turner in a place safe from my dog so they are constantly being turned.

    Try to avoid a place where you get temperature swings, where they warm up, cool down, warm up, cool down. That’s harder on them than keeping them at a constant temperature.

    The closer you are to ideal conditions the longer you can store them and still get them to hatch. The further you are from ideal conditions the shorter your window for them to remain viable. Let’s use humidity as an example. For an egg to hatch it needs to lose a certain amount of moisture before internal pip. If it does not lose enough, the chick has trouble moving to hatch and may drown because the air cell is too small. If it loses too much the membrane that forms around it can shrink and wrap the chick so it cannot move to pip. There is a pretty wide range of an acceptable moisture loss but you want to avoid the extremes. The egg is losing moisture as you store it waiting to put it in the incubator. The drier the conditions where you store it the more moisture it loses. I regularly go a full week in my less than perfect conditions and don’t have any problems with this, but I am highly reluctant to go much longer.

    I think those are the highlights. Just do the best you reasonably can and you will probably be OK.

    Sour, I tried an experiment last year. When I put eggs in the incubator I had extra room and a bunch of eggs (18) that had just been laying on my kitchen counter for at least three weeks, some more. They were not stored pointy side down and they had not been turned. Out of those 18 eggs I had zero even start to develop. I fully believe your three weeks story but your storage conditions had to be a lot better than mine.

    Cubsfan, those eggs can be remarkably tough but there are limits. Don’t overstress about it, just be reasonable. You’ll do OK.

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