Hatchability – Choosing a Great Egg to Hatchbedewy
The quality of your hatching eggs is of prime importance when you plan to produce a batch of chicks whether by using an incubator or by using a broody hen. When hatch rates are low it’s wise to go back and consider if we can improve that quality. A lot of factors contribute to a good fertile egg that will produce a healthy chicken.
Hatchability – Egg Quality
When choosing eggs for hatching, think of the following:
A. Collect the eggs in season when the length of day is appropriate. Chickens need a minimum amount of light so spring and summer are better times for egg collection.
B. Use health parent bird.
C. Feed the breeders a good diet. Don’t go for the cheap option. It doesn’t pay off.
D. You need clean eggs. Don’t try and wash them. Make sure the nests are clean so they don’t get dirty in the first place.
E. Store eggs in a dark and cool place. Sit them with pointy end downwards.
F. Turn your eggs twice a day while in storage.
G. Set your eggs when less than seven days old. Fresh eggs do better.
H. Always handle your eggs very gently.
Many eggs don’t hatch because of problems with incubator conditions, but a lot were never going to hatch in any case. Eggs can have small cracks in them or be deficient in some way. Always choose medium sized eggs, not the super large ones or the tiny ones. Regular, normal eggs are the best to hatching.
After an egg is laid, its quality cannot be increased. It can only deteriorate. Poor eggs can result from aging breeders, genetics, poor health of breeders, bad environment, parasites, diseases, medications.
As stated before, light is important for the laying function in most birds. It may be necessary to arrange extra lighting time for fowls that are required to lay at times when the day is short and light is insufficient. Inadequate light can also result in a poor quality egg.
Nutrition in the layer is also important. She must lay and egg that contains everything that the developing chick needs. The diet of the laying flock can affect this. All the components of the egg, vitamins, minerals, water, protein, fat etc come from the maternal diet. If something isn’t quite right, a hen may still lay an egg that is of inferior quality. Stress may also cause substandard eggs..
Once a good egg is produced, they must be kept clean and fresh. Nest boxes should be kept dry and eggs collected frequently, particularly in hot weather. Washing can remove the cuticle on the egg and isn’t advised in a backyard situation. If you must wash an egg it should be done quickly using water that is warmer than the egg. Always use clean hands and treat the egg gently.
Storage of eggs is best between 10 and 17 degrees Celsius. They should be turned regularly. In the home situation you can keep them in egg cartons and tip one end up, alternating a couple of times per day. Discard any eggs that are excessively large, undersized, crack or damaged in any way. They should not be chosen for hatching.
Transporting chickens eggs by post is not ideal, but if you have no choice, it may be worth an attempt despite the difficulties. Be aware that your hatch rates are likely to be much lower and any health chicks are a bonus. Posted eggs tend to do better under a broody than in an incubator. Be aware that other poultry breeds require different incubating times.
Hatching chickens is an exciting an rewarding activity. Choosing the best quality eggs for hatching sets you up for success with your poultry project.