How to tell if eggs are fertile. To test for fertile eggs: look for a ring or a bulls eye on the yoke of a farm egg. If roosters live in the pen or on the farm with hens, its nearly guaranteed that the eggs will be fertile. Its best to get fresh fertile eggs. You can collect fertile eggs for a few days and keep them in an egg carton for up to 2 weeks (not refrigerated or washed) IMPORTANT! In the storage carton keep the eggs large end up small end down to keep the air sack open. When not incubating eggs and you are storing them its best to keep the eggs in a carton and "tilt" the carton each day from side to side or end to end. This will ensure that the embryo does not stick to the shell until you are read to incubate the eggs.
Collect the new fertile eggs from your coop. When you are ready to put eggs in incubator DO NOT wash eggs if you do, they will develop bacteria which will cause the egg to smell and the embryo to die. This can cause ALL of your hatching eggs to fail.
When you "set" your eggs in the incubator, be sure to gently lay them and not to shake eggs nor disturb them.Its VERY important for a healthy batch of chicks to use Chrisal's probiotics to clean and sterilize the incubator and your supplies. If there is old bacteria from the last batch of chicks, the bad left over bacteria can cause damage or even a non hatch on your eggs.
There are many styles of incubators that are on the market. Most have see through windows and let you and your family witness the miracle of life. From egg to fuzzy baby chick in only 21 days!
Be sure you have the proper equipment to raise your batch of young chicks. Many times on hatching a batch of eggs you will end up with half or more ROOSTERS! Many people do not need to keep more one or two roosters in the backyard. Your flocks will grow very fast if you do keep roosters and hatch fertile eggs.
Pip day or "egg crack day" will be about day 19 or so in the incubation and you can hear the baby chicks peeping to get out. It's very tempting to open the incubator or to want to help the baby chick. Do NOT open the incubator, if you do the chicks will die from lack of humidity as the eggs will wrap tightly around the un-hatched chicks re-sealing them in the eggs. Let Mother Nature do the work of bringing life in the world. Wait until all chicks hatch (about day 22 or day 23. If any eggs are "late hatches" they will be usually weak or deformed. Its best to not allow these eggs to hatch as the chicks will be weak or deformed. They will rarely live past a few hours.
Many animal farms will not want roosters, so have another plan in place for your growing flock of chickens.
How To Hatch Fertile Eggs
Incubator Or A Broody Hen?
Some breeds of hens want to hatch a clutch of eggs or "go broody" thus the name "setting hen" They don't want to be bothered for any reason and sometimes wont even get up to eat! Most hens that want to hatch a batch need to be separated from other hens and have a quiet section of a coop area. There are "setting hens" and "non setting breeds" of chickens. Most setting chickens can make good mothers, There can be a lot of fighting and pecking among some hens. Not all hens will want to hatch eggs. There are some noted breeds that are BEST at wanting to hatch eggs. Most "Bantam" sized breeds or Silkies make good brooders for hatching a clutch of eggs. You can't make her want to hatch eggs. Its up to each hen when and where she decides to raise a batch of baby chicks. Of course keep roosters away from young chicks too for their safety,
Easy steps to hatch fertile eggs. Its best to have fertile eggs that you get from your own backyard coop. If you do not own a rooster then you can call a local feed store and ask to find someone there that may have posted a sign for fertile eggs. You can get fertile eggs shipped to you, but I have learned that the eggs arrive usually damaged shells or ruptured air sacks. most of these eggs will not hatch and about two eggs per dozen will be your final result if the hatch goes well.
Below in this photo is an "egg candling". This is where you carefully pick up eggs to check for embryos. Shine a very bright light through the egg shell to look for a developing baby chick. If you do not have an egg that looks like this in about a week. Its best to discard non fertile eggs.
Ordering fertile eggs from the mail is really NOT a good idea. No matter HOW MANY people say it works well. Most of the time hatching eggs that have been wrapped well, even in 15 layers of bubble wrap, will be dropped kicked through the US postal system or zapped from many radiation or x-ray machines or handled roughly have a less than good chance of hatching without problems. The point is: you might not have a good hatch. There are cases where eggs will hatch but this is usually not the case. Most of the time people just want to sell eggs. Read the disclaimer and the fine print from the egg sellers that state the eggs will arrive safe and sound. It says: "we are not responsible for non hatching" so no refunds.
In most cases for the best hatches on fertile eggs, use your own chicken eggs or go and collect them from somewhere that you can drive to pick up fertile eggs.