Here we will discuss the 10 truths regarding fertile chicken eggs. Raising backyard chickens for eggs can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it also comes with a lot of questions, especially when it comes to understanding the ins and outs of fertile eggs.
As a new chicken owner, you might find yourself overwhelmed by myths and old wives’ tales about your feathered friends and their eggs.
Let’s debunk some of those myths and set the record straight with ten essential truths about fertile eggs. This article aims to provide you with the accurate information you need to better understand your chickens’ reproductive journey and ensure a successful egg-laying experience for your backyard flock.
- Understanding fertile eggs is crucial for backyard chicken owners.
- Debunking myths and learning accurate information is essential for successful egg-laying.
- Awareness of fertile eggs can lead to a better overall experience with backyard chickens.
1) Do I Need A Rooster?
When keeping hens for egg consumption, you don’t actually need a rooster; your hens will still lay eggs that are perfect for eating but will never turn into chicks. However, if you want to breed chickens for meat and continuous egg production, a rooster becomes necessary, as he is required to fertilize the eggs.
Keep in mind that a rooster may have a few preferred mates among your hens, so be mindful of overbreeding. To do so, collect eggs daily as this helps monitor which hens are producing fertilized eggs, though it’s not foolproof.
Be aware that if all your chickens are of the same breed, their eggs will look alike, making identification tricky. Additionally, just because a hen is sitting on eggs doesn’t necessarily mean they’re hers. Remember to give your broody hens and free-range flock appropriate care in either case.
2) When Should I Expect Fertilized Eggs?
Chicken mating happens surprisingly quick, so you might not even realize it’s occurring. Yet, after the birds have mated, it takes some time before the eggs produced are actually fertilized.
In fact, within the first week after your hen has mated, the eggs laid will be unfertilized. In the next 7-10 days, you will begin to see fertilized eggs appearing in the nest.
Why does this timeline happen? The sperm needs around 7-10 days to travel through the hen’s long 25-inch oviduct. So, that’s why eggs aren’t fertile immediately after mating. Interestingly, a chicken continues to remain fertile for about 2 to 3 weeks post-mating.
The reason behind this extended fertility period is the rooster’s sperm being stored inside the hen’s oviduct until it depletes. During the first week, it’s likely that every egg will be fertile. However, by the second week, the fertility rate decreases. And by the third week, you’ll hardly find any fertilized eggs.
3) Is There a Fertility Test?
Indeed, some chicken enthusiasts suggest a variety of ways to determine egg viability. One well-known technique is “candling,” which initially involved holding an egg over a candle to glimpse the developing embryo inside. Today, LED flashlights serve this purpose.
However, candling fertile chicken eggs isn’t always accurate, as it’s difficult to see essential fetal development within the first 3-4 days after being laid. Moreover, misinterpretations can occur, leading to false assumptions about egg fertilization.
To confirm an egg’s fertility more accurately, consider examining an egg or two by checking for the telltale “bullseye.” The bullseye is a distinguishable spot that appears once the yolk is fertilized and where the chick begins to form.
You can notice the bullseye from day one, and it continues to expand rapidly over 21 days, developing into a chick. So, while there’s no foolproof test, looking for the bullseye can provide some certainty regarding the fertility of your chicken eggs.
4) Blood Spots Don’t Equate to Fertilization
It’s a myth that blood spots always indicate a fertilized egg. In reality, these red spots, also known as meat spots, can appear in both fertilized and unfertilized eggs. They originate from a ruptured blood vessel in the hen’s oviduct, where all eggs pass through.
No need to worry, as these blood spots are completely safe to eat and don’t impact the egg’s flavor or texture. If the sight of them bothers you, simply scoop out the spot with a spoon and continue cooking as usual. Remember, their presence is not definitive scientific evidence that an egg is fertile.
5) What Is The White Stringy Part Of The Egg?
While whipping up breakfast, you might’ve noticed that thick white stringy part in the egg called the chalaza. Don’t worry, it’s normal! Its function is to keep the yolk suspended, ensuring it doesn’t stick to the albumen (egg white).
No matter if the eggs are fertilized or not, they all have a chalaza. Fun fact: the fresher the egg, the more pronounced the chalaza will be.
6) Can You Sex Chicks Inside Of The Egg?
Determining the sex of chicks within the egg is a topic with many myths. However, none of these mythical methods are scientifically proven. Consequently, you cannot accurately determine your chicks’ gender until they have hatched.
If you’re seeking to have a higher number of female chicks, try adjusting the temperature of the incubator. There’s some evidence suggesting that keeping the eggs slightly cooler than average may result in more females, whereas slightly warmer temperatures may produce more males.
This method isn’t guaranteed, but it has some support within the scientific community. Remember to be cautious with the temperature adjustments and keep your developing embryos’ well-being in mind.
7) Fertilized Chicken Eggs Eating: Is It Bad?
No, eating fertilized chicken eggs isn’t bad for you. If you place them in the fridge right after collecting them, it stops any development. Even if you cook fresh eggs daily and notice the bull’s-eye in your yolk, these eggs are safe to consume.
Rest assured, you’re not eating a baby chick; the yolks haven’t developed into a chick and won’t have a heartbeat until they’re three days old.
You might think fertilized eggs are more nutritious, but they hold the same nutritional value as their infertile counterparts. Your taste buds won’t notice a difference either – they taste exactly the same.
8) Is There a Fertility Season?
Indeed, chickens have a fertility season just like other animals. Generally, they’re not at their most fertile during winter. Instead, they conserve energy to stay warm and protected during cold months. Plus, chicks wouldn’t thrive well in chilly conditions.
If you’re living in colder climates, you might even notice a drop in egg production during wintertime. Some chicken breeds may completely stop laying eggs throughout winter.
To ensure year-round eggs, choose breeds capable of withstanding seasonal fluctuations. Keep in mind that the prime breeding season for most chickens is typically from early spring to late summer.
9) Purchasing Fertilized Eggs Online? Absolutely!
Worried about getting fertilized eggs for your broody chicken? Fret not! Although it might be a bit pricey and shipping delicate eggs can seem challenging, online retailers generally use excellent packaging and guarantees for safe delivery.
Typically, packages arrive within two days of shipment, cushioned and handled with care. Just a quick tip: steer clear of ordering during extreme weather conditions, like freezing winters or scorching summers. This little precaution will boost the chances of successfully hatching all your delivered eggs. Happy shopping!
10) How To Get Fertile Chicken Eggs To Hatch?
If you’re fortunate enough to have a broody hen, she can be your go-to solution for hatching fertile chicken eggs. However, be aware that certain meat and egg chicken breeds have been selectively bred to avoid broodiness. If your chicken abandons her fertilized eggs, be prepared to incubate them yourself.
Using an incubator for hatching fertile chicken eggs can be a challenge for beginners. First, you’ll need to either purchase an incubator or construct one. Ensure the temperature remains constant between 99.5 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit, and maintain a humidity level of at least 50%. Increase the humidity to 65% during the final few days.
In addition to temperature and humidity, make sure to occasionally rotate the eggs if your incubator doesn’t do this automatically. This prevents the chicks from sticking to the shell. Communication is key: mimic tiny chirping noises to encourage healthy development.
Research indicates that consistent chirping can positively impact chick growth, and without it, fewer chicks will survive. This is when “candling” your eggs can be helpful. By shining a light beneath the egg, you can inspect the progress of fetal development.
Keep up the good work, and within 21 days, you should witness your first chicks entering the world.
As a farmer or chicken keeper, you’ve now learned essential facts about fertile chicken eggs and are prepared to dive into breeding. On the other hand, if that seems intimidating, you can always enjoy raising chickens for non-fertile eggs.
Regardless of your choice, chickens make wonderful additions to your backyard. So, embrace the journey and create memorable experiences with your feathery friends.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if an egg is fertile before putting it in the incubator?
To determine if an egg is fertile before incubating, you can try the process of candling. This involves shining a bright light through the eggshell to view the contents inside. If you see veins, an embryo, or a dark area, the egg is fertile. However, it’s best to wait a few days after laying for accurate results.
How many eggs can a hen produce after one mating session?
A hen can lay multiple eggs after mating with a rooster. She may lay fertile eggs for up to two weeks following one mating session, with the possibility of laying 10-20 eggs in that timeframe. Keep in mind that fertility may decline towards the end of this period.
Why do hens sometimes lay eggs that aren’t fertilized?
Hens have a natural cycle that causes them to lay eggs, regardless of whether they have mated with a rooster or not. Unfertilized eggs are simply going through the hen’s normal egg-laying process without the presence of sperm to fertilize the egg.
Are there any advantages to consuming fertile eggs?
Though some people claim that fertile eggs are more nutritious, there isn’t substantial evidence to support this notion. Fertile and infertile eggs are virtually identical in taste and nutritional content.
What’s the proper way to store fertilized eggs meant for consumption?
When storing fertilized eggs for eating, it’s important to keep them at a cool and consistent temperature, ideally between 50-60°F (10-15°C). Avoid temperature fluctuations, direct sunlight, and high humidity. Also, make sure to consume the eggs within 7-10 days for best quality.
What are the developmental stages of a chicken egg?
A fertilized chicken egg goes through several stages during its 21-day incubation period:
- Days 1-3: Cell development and formation of the embryo.
- Days 4-6: The embryo begins to take shape, developing a heart, legs, and wings.
- Days 7-10: Organ development and growth. The head, beak, and eyes form.
- Days 11-14: Feathers start to grow, and the embryo prepares for hatching.
- Days 15-18: The chick shifts into its hatching position and absorbs the remaining yolk.
- Days 19-21: The chick breaks through the shell (pips) and hatches.
Remember, these stages are approximate and can vary slightly depending on factors such as temperature and humidity during incubation.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!