incubating - tilting vs. turning?


10 Years
May 26, 2009
Central PA
What are the pros and cons of tilting vs turning eggs? I borrowed a small homemade 'bator that I'm going to put my first batch of eggs in later this week. My friend built a pulley-style turner that will roll the eggs from one side to the other, but I've been reading on the egg carton threads that there are benefits to leaving the eggs in a carton, big end up, and tilting them instead of rolling them. Any thoughts on which is more successful? Rolling them doesn't allow the air cell to stay upright, which I understand aids in the chick developing with its head at the right end. But rolling them seems closer to what a broody would do with her eggs naturally...tilting not so much a "natural" movement for an egg in a nest.

Interesting question. I dont know the answer. Most of the lower end incubators seem to tilt. The only exception I can think of is the marsh-lyon or the top hatch which roll them in a circle on their sides.

Tilting must be good enough.

But as you say naturally eggs are on their side and are rolled. There are many higher priced incubators which roll the eggs on rollers, so Id venture to guess that there arent any significant cons to horizontal rolling.
Look at the drawing and notice the CHALAZA. I'm not sure of all of the chalaza's functions but one of them is to keep the yolk centered within the egg. "Rolling" the egg can "twist" this part of the egg, whereas "turning" the egg doesn't twist it. I've read that twisting the chalaza isn't good but I've also read that "Superman can leap a tall building in a single bound".
You might want to research the function of the chalaza a little bit more.

Best wishes,

But then doesn't it seem that Mama Hen would be "twisting" the chalaza as she rolls her eggs around in the nest? It can't be that bad for them. I'm just wondering if tilting gives them enough lateral movement...or do they really not need any?
Well, I really don't think many mother hens flip their eggs over...I agree with the chalaza twisting as the hens roll them.

The hens also move/roll the eggs much more than humans do or an electric turner does which would mean that the chalaza would be twisted much more with hens incubating the eggs than when the eggs are in an incubator.

Lyon makes some incubators that are designed to roll the the $500-$600 range. There still selling these incubators so there must be something positive about rolling eggs.

Eggs tend to naturally rest with the big end up and pointed end down. But, in a nest with a bunch of other eggs and nest material I could see how some of them might be pointed opposite to that. I'm really not sure what to tell you.

In some of the old books that I've read through (~1930 vintages) they state to stop turning at day 14. Current information states that at day 14 is when the embryo starts to get into position to break the shell. You might consider using the roller for the first couple of weeks (14 days) then switching to tilting for the next 4 days until day 18. By design, the eggs should come to a rest with the big end at least pointing slightly up and small end down....air pocket in the big end and small end full of chick. Also the physical shape of the egg encourages it to come to rest this way. Amazing how these things were designed, eh?

ETA: I had chickpeas last night for supper!

ETA2: ...or, you might simply keep the turner going for the full 18 days till lockdown. I think you'll be ok either way.

Best wishes,
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It is an interesting question. I wonder what the commercial hatcheries do? I don't know the correct answer but I'll comment on the chalaza twisting.

Hang an object by a string or better yet, a strip of rubber. Spin the object, twisting it, then leave it alone. It will untwist on its own. The rubber will act as a spring. I'd expect the chalaza to be rubbery and the mass inside the egg not held in any fixed position by friction, thus it is pretty free to return to the initial position, untwisting as it were, if there is any tension on the chalaza. Just my opinion, No claim to expertise. And thinking it is probably best to not overthink it, which I tend to do.
Hmmm, and even maybe get the benefit of some delayed, slow-turning action. Might even turn past it's starting point and rebound back and forth slowly a few times. Interesting thought!

Reminds me of how we used to twist the chains on a playground swing and let it untwist on its!

I think I will turn this time, tilt next time and see if I notice a difference in the hatch. Thanks for the input!
I have hatched both ways... hand turning and I have an automatic turner. I have better hatches while hand turning. I feel the automatic turner keeps the embryo up higher in the egg, closer to the air cell. I have had many quit at day 18 or 19 with the turner. Maybe they internally pip too early?
Its just something I noticed with my hatches.
Thank you for sharing -- that is just the kind of experienced input I was looking for! I think I'll turn this hatch and see how it goes.

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