The "refrigerator egg" thread


7 Years
Sep 12, 2012
I thought this might be a good idea for those of us that have tried it, plan to try it in the future, or are trying it now.

I fall into that last group at the moment, and I am going to post updates here. I just took six eggs that I had placed in the refrigerator, back out of it, and into the incubator. Apparently some people have gotten hatches from them. I'm not expecting much, but the nieces and nephews aren't eating the eggs fast enough, and I have two people interested in my large fowl chicks now. So I figured WHY NOT?

The following is a pic of what I have right now.

The eggs are only out of the trays until room clears IN the trays. Two of the trays were broken by nieces, so I have to lay some on the wire and manually turn them for now.

The numbers on each of them are the day they are due. I usually put eggs in my incubator as they are laid - I don't usually hold them and set them all at once. The R means it was a refrigerator egg (there are a few taken from nestboxes today too). I'll be able to candle them in a week and see if there is any development. At that point, I'll decide if it's worth it to continue doing this or not. If any of them have developed, it will be kept through hatch. But if only one or two develop, I probably won't do this again.

Has anyone had a very high hatch rate from it? I'm still surprised to hear people get hatches from refrigerated eggs AT ALL. I know commercial ones won't work, because those hens aren't allowed to come into contact with roosters. But I thought the refrigerator temperature kills the egg and keeps it from developing.

But once I read about it happening, lightbulb went off and I thought "Well, what about chickens who lay during the winter? In nature, they probably sit on eggs in early spring despite those eggs being subjected to cold temps, too!"

So, maybe the temperature they are stored at really doesn't matter that much. As long as it isn't boiling water, I guess!
I think the cold just stops/suspends development, but does not kill the embryo. I suspect you will get a decent hatch out of the refrigerated eggs based on other experiences I have read about. I actually have 2 eggs that were pulled from the fridge of the 4 my hen is sitting on right now. They are at day 14 and all is well so far, except I've got large air spaces in my eggs. (I think it's from porous shells, now that I think about it....these were a first-try for me for a hen who had suddenly gone broody.)

Anyway, if you are taking wagers...I'm going to bet that 4 of them hatch. ;-p
The numbers on each of them are the day they are due. I usually put eggs in my incubator as they are laid - I don't usually hold them and set them all at once.

So, you just have chicks hatch at different intervals and take the babies out as they come?

And may I ask what kind breeds the different eggs are? Especially the smaller tinted ones in the rack?
Essentially yes, all different days. Notice how the visible ones are dated the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th. They were laid on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and put in the incubator that same day. As soon as they are laid, they go in the incubator. I don't have any sort of "lock down" period like most people. But it all works just fine. I get really high hatch rates, and normally the only ones that don't hatch simply weren't fertile to begin with.

The tinted ones in the trays are Bantam Cochin with possible Frizzle. The rooster is a frizzle, the hens are all smooth-feathered, and the way the gene works, I should get about 50% frizzle from them. That's all I was incubating prior to these people wanting the large fowl.

The white ones are still somewhat of a mystery, but MOST LIKELY a leghorn mix. Part of the reason I'm hatching them, is to find out who the eggs belong to! I have four different breeds coming of age in the main pen right now. The sumatras will probably lay later on, the ameraucana would be laying blue eggs, which leaves polish and leghorn. And for some reason, I'm thinking the polish would be an off-white or maybe even a cream colored egg, instead of stark-white like these. The father might be a mystery too, but we'll see what it is when it hatches!

The brown are actually a plymouth rock. I keep them mainly for eggs, but the guy I have interested in buying chicks wants strong egg-layers, and said any breed is fine by him. Those are probably the best ones that I have for it right now. This is also why I decided to incubate all of the white eggs I'm getting, since it's likely they are leghorns, and known for being good layers.

And the green is just an easter egger from my own ameraucana lines. But they also lay very well, and sometimes year-round, so I tossed a few of those in there to hatch out for the buyers as well. The lady said she's interested in a dual-purpose chicken (meat and eggs), and easter eggers usually qualify for that.
Well, I just proved it's true, once again! Refrigerated eggs CAN be removed later and still develop and hatch! I'm only on day 5 (instead of 7), but they are ALL showing blood vessels! I even photos to show you!

The first photo is blurry and is taken with an older phone's camera. The second photo is much clearer. But you should be able to see the "17R" that I wrote on both of them to indicate they are due on the 17th, and they are Refrigerator eggs! They all spent about two weeks in the refrigerator prior to being placed in the incubator.

And the refrigerator here is always about 34 degrees.

I'll try to keep getting more photos as they progress in development. But it's easy to see the blood vessels here, and the developing embryo in the center!

In other good news, the bantam frizzle cochin that was taking up the incubator is giving me a 100% hatch-rate! Every last egg in there is showing development, and so far I have gotten six chicks out of six eggs due. Still MANY more to go between now and the 17th (when the last eggs are due) but so far everything looks good!
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I am on day 6 of fridge eggs, I have hatched fridge babies before. My eggs are from a vets fridge who lives a couple of miles from my house. from her eggs I get about 50% hatch, but that is because I am sure she washes.
Congratulations! I'm surprised they are so well after that long in the fridge. I'd have thought that a week, max, would be all you could do like that. Very neat.
Haven't been able to get around to updating this recently, because I've been dealing with the Frizzle chicks that were hatching and selling.

My eggs were supposed to hatch yesterday. But I had a power outage and most eggs are hatching a day or two late now. I did lose one refrigerator egg soon after my last post. It just stopped developing, and died. No idea why, and I didn't crack it open to check.

But since they are now supposed to hatch between today and tomorrow, I am excited to announce that I have TWO pips! I have one egg that was straight from the nest box that same day, but it is NOT one of the two pips! All of the five remaining refrigerator eggs, and the one nest box egg are all showing movement, so it's looking great overall! But two pips out of eggs that had been in the refrigerator for about two weeks, PLUS went through a power outage during incubation, sounds like some really good odds to me!

Pics of the babies will definitely be posted once they hatch - or at least start to zip!
I have been busy with my birds too, moms have chicks in coop- 2 eggs are on day 16 and I just put in another batch of fridge eggs yesterday. hatchers will be frizzle and cochin mixes.

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