If you raise backyard chickens for eggs, you might have a few questions about fertility. There are many old myths still flying about on the web that can make it hard for new chicken owners to differentiate. Today we are going to go through some of those myths and tell you a little more about the 10 truths about fertile eggs.
1) Do I Need A Rooster?
If you are raising hens purely for eggs, then you do not need a rooster as a chicken will continue to lay eggs without one. These eggs will never turn into chickens and are solely for eating. If you are looking at breeding chickens for meat and continual egg production, a rooster is needed. Just like with most animals, a male is required to produce fertilized eggs. If you don’t have a rooster, you will never have fertilized eggs.
A rooster will tend to have a few favorites in your flock, and it can be easy to over breed them. Collecting eggs daily can help you keep an eye on who is laying fertilized eggs, but not 100%. If all of your chickens are the same breed, their eggs will all look alike. And just because a chicken is laying on the eggs, does not mean they are hers.
2) When Should I Expect Fertilized Eggs?
The chicken breeding process is swift. Most people don’t even notice that it has happened because it is so fast. The whole process only takes a few minutes. But after breeding, do you automatically have fertile chicken eggs? Actually, for the first 7-10 days after a hen has mated, your chicken will still produce eggs, but they aren’t fertilized. After the 7-10 days is when you will start noticing fertilized eggs in the nest.
7-10 days is the average time it takes for the sperm to travel through the long 25-inch oviduct. So that is why eggs are not fertile immediately after mating. And a chicken remains fertile for 2-3 weeks after mating.
This long fertility period is possible because the rooster’s sperm is stored within the oviduct until it is gone. For the first week, you can expect every egg to be fertile, and by the second week, it starts to decline. By week 3, you should see almost no fertilized eggs anymore.
3) Is There A Fertility Test?
Some chicken owners will swear by several tests that you can perform to check the viability of an egg. But these methods are usually flawed. The most common way to check is to “candle” them. This is done originally by holding the egg over a candle to view the fetus inside the egg. But nowadays we just use LED flashlights. Fertile chicken eggs candling is not accurate because you can not see the crucial fetal development until 3-4 days after being laid. It is also possible to misread the candling and mistake a fertilized egg when it’s not.
The only accurate test is to open an egg or two and check for the signature bulls-eye. The bulls-eye is the spot where the yolk became fertilized, and that portion becomes a chick. This bulls-eye is noticeable from day one. And it will continue to grow rapidly within 21 days into a chick.
4) Blood Spots Do Not Mean Fertilization
While blood spots are commonly found in fertilized chicken eggs, but it does not always mean fertilization. These blood spots are also known as meat spots, but they aren’t meat at all. They generally come from a ruptured blood vessel as the yolk traveled through the hen’s oviduct. Since all eggs pass through the oviduct, that means infertile chicken eggs can have them too.
These blood spots are entirely safe to eat and do not change your eggs’ texture or taste. If these spots bother you in any way, you can easily cut that part out with a spoon and cook as usual.
5) What Is The White Stringy Part Of The Egg?
No doubt that at some point, you have cracked open an egg and found a thick white stringy bit. This white bit is called the chalaza. It is the part that keeps the yolk and chick in the right position and prevents the yolk from sticking to the egg white. All eggs have a chalaza, whether fertilized or not. And the fresher the egg is, the more of a chalaza there will be.
6) Can You Sex Chicks Inside Of The Egg?
Next on our 10 truths about fertile chicken eggs is about sexing a chick that has not hatched. Many myths are out there about telling the gender between chicks while they are inside of the egg. But none of these tests can be backed by science. There is no way of telling the gender of your chicks until they have hatched.
Now, if you are hoping for more girls than boys, there might be something you can do. Some studies have shown that keeping your eggs at half a degree warmer than average will produce more males. And half a degree lower than average will produce more females. While this is not a foolproof method, it does have some credibility in the scientific community.
7) Fertilized Chicken Eggs Eating: Is It Bad?
Eating a fertilized chicken egg is not bad for you. If you have collected eggs and placed them directly into the fridge, this stops all development. Or if you always collect and cook fresh eggs daily, you might notice the tale-tell bulls-eye in your yolk. These eggs are harmless to eat, and it does not mean that you are eating a baby chick. These yolks have not developed into a chick yet and won’t get a heartbeat until they are three days old.
Some might encourage eating fertilized eggs because they are more nutritious. But this is not true. Fertilized eggs hold the same nutritional value as infertile chicken eggs. They even taste exactly the same.
8) Is There A Fertility Season?
Like most animals, chickens also have a fertile season. Typically chickens are not as fertile during the winter. They are conserving their energy to keep warm and safe during the colder months. Not to mention, chicks wouldn’t survive well in the cold. You might notice that egg production even declines in the winter if you live in colder climates. Some breeds of chicken will stop producing eggs altogether in winter. So if you are looking for year-round eggs, you will need to make sure you have breeds that can do it. But even for those breeds, the most common breeding season in early spring into late summer.
9) Can I Buy Fertilized Eggs Online?
Yes, you can! If you have a broody chicken, ordering some fertilized eggs could soon give you a round of chicks. Ordering online can be expensive, and the shipping can be hard. But most online retailers have excellent packaging and a guarantee that they will get there safe. Most packages arrive within two days of being shipped and packaged with the most cushion and care. Just be sure to not order during inclement weather like cold winters or hotter than average summers. Doing this will increase your chances of having all eggs hatch.
10) How To Get Fertile Chicken Eggs To Hatch?
And finally, our last 10 truths about fertile chicken eggs are about hatching them. If you have a broody hen, then giving her the eggs is your most accessible and cheapest way to get fertile chicken eggs to hatch.
But, depending on the breed of chicken, this might not be the case. Some meat and egg chickens have been selectively bred not to get broody. If you suspect that your chicken has laid fertilized eggs but has walked away from them, you need to be prepared to incubate them.
Getting fertile chicken eggs to hatch in an incubator is not for a beginner. You will need to first either buy an incubator or design one. Then you will need to keep them at a constant temperature of 99.5-102 degrees Fahrenheit. You will also need to ensure that the moisture level is at least 50% and crank it up to 65% for the last few days.
But there is more to ensure the safety of your eggs. If your incubator doesn’t do it, you will need to rotate the eggs every so often to make sure that the chicks don’t stick to the shell. You will also need to make little chirping noises to them to promote development.
Studies have shown that this can help chicks develop at a healthy pace, and without it, more of them won’t make it. This is where candling your eggs come in handy. You can check for proper fetal development using a light under the egg. If you see growth, then you are doing a fantastic job! Within 21 days, you should have your first chicks making their way into the world.
Get To Hatching!
Now that you know these 10 truths about fertile chicken eggs, you are ready to start breeding. Or if this seems like a little too much for you, you could always keep chickens for infertile chicken eggs. In either case, chickens are lovely to have.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!