Will eggs hatch

by Selena Purssey
( France)

Question
Will eggs hatch; My hen has sat on her eggs for 16 days, she then got off and let them go cold. She probably was only off them for 1/2 hour but they did feel cold.

I have put them back under her and she is happily sitting again, but are they likely to be dead now anyway?

Answer
I wouldn’t give up on the eggs. Hens have to get off the eggs sometimes and are usually good at not leaving for too long.

At this stage of development you should be able to candle the eggs. I like to use a bright small flashlight held right up to the egg, so all the light is focused through the shell and none on the outside of the shell.

You can check them at night, with totally dark surroundings or take a few of the eggs into a dark room or closet.

The chicks are usually light sensitive at this point and will move around visibly inside the egg. You probably don’t need to check all her eggs.

If the chicks are still alive you will notice a pink glow around the edges, from the blood supply in the egg, and a dark center, where the chick is.

If the shell isn’t super thick you may be able to see a good outline of the chick’s body, if they aren’t filling most of the egg already.

If the chicks have died the blood will be dead and brownish and the egg will look kind of muddy inside (through the shell).

The thicker the shells, the brighter the light will need to be. At 16 days incubation, you only have a few more to go, till 21 days.

It would be a shame to toss them or open them at this point. You might just be pleasantly surprised in a few days!

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How Long are Eggs Fertile?

by WILLIE
(CORNELL IL)

How Long are Eggs Fertile? How long will a hen lay fertile eggs after my rooster is moved to another group?

Answer:
Good question Willie. For chickens, this is typically up to three weeks. The way this works is due to the hens reproductive system. Sperm is stored in an oviduct in the hen for fertilizing eggs. This is an ingrained survival mechanism with most birds.

So, if a rooster dies, or if it is removed, the hens will typically still produce fertile eggs for up to three weeks. For other species of birds, like turkey and waterfowl, this can go on even longer than three weeks.

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Eggs don't hatch

by Latrice
(Wymes Virginia)

Question
I had eggs incubating and kept the temperature and humidity at the correct numbers. We turned them twice every day. Why didn't they hatch?

Answer
There can be many reasons that eggs don’t hatch. The most common reason is that the eggs were infertile.

The best way to tell if eggs are fertile is to go ahead and set them up in the incubator as you have done. After about a week to 9 days you need to “candle” them.

A small, but very bright, flashlight or pen light will work. You will need a dark room or dark corner of a room.

Hold the flashlight behind the egg and you should be able to see some lighting inside the egg. A fertile egg, at this point, has developed enough that it will glow reddish pink from the blood flow. Compare the color to a fresh egg.

A fresh egg will have a yellow or orange glow from the yolk. The more you do this the better you will get.

It’s not a bad idea to check them each week. When they are near ready to hatch you will not see much lighting inside the egg shell, but with a good light you may be able to see the chick moving in response to the light.

When they are ready to hatch you should be able to hear the chicks peeping inside the shell. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on them and see that they are hatching about the 21st – 22nd day.

The next reason they might not hatch is that the membrane sack inside the egg becomes too dry and too tough for the chicks to break through.

Without help they will die inside the egg. If eggs get too dry, too hot or too cold, at any point during incubation this can stop the chicks development.

If the handling of the eggs isn’t gentle enough there can be tearing of delicate tissues inside, or cracking of the shell. This can also prevent hatching.

It’s a good idea to open eggs that haven’t hatched after 21-22 days. You will see if there are any partially developed embryos; if not the eggs weren’t fertile to begin with.

(You might want to do this outside. If rotten they are going to smell.) Be very careful at this point and be sure you don’t have live chicks in the eggs.

Opening eggs before the chicks are ready will kill them immediately.

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Fertile egg


(Northeastern NY.)

Question
Fertile egg: For how long are the hen’s eggs fertile after we remove the rooster? Can we leave the eggs in with the hens and will they hatch them on their own.

(4/12/11). We have 5 Plymouth Rock hens and just got rid of the rooster 36 hrs ago. The hens are a yr old.

Answer
You can be fairly safe to assume that the eggs are fertile for 10 days after the rooster has been with the hens; but that would be assuming he bred each hen the day or day before he left.

If any of your hens are “broody”, meaning they want to sit on eggs for 21 days and hatch them, then the eggs might hatch.

Broody hens will linger on the eggs and not come to roost at night when they are ready to sit.

The presence of a rooster is not necessary for this to happen, though I have seen roosters select a nest for his favorite hens and drive them to the nest or coax them to sit by repeatedly entering the nest himself and arranging nesting material as he “talks” to them.

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Egg production

by Bill
(Valatie, NY, USA)

Question
What would cause hens to have low egg production?

Answer
There are many circumstances that could cause this.

Extreme cold, extreme heat, the shortened day light hours that we experience in the Fall and Winter months, molting, nutritional deficiencies, dehydration, broodiness, beginning to be “laid out” due to old age (some breeds become too old to lay at 2 – 3 years, some may lay near 10 years), and disease.

Eggs are made up of water, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. Hens deficient in any of these could quit laying all together, or deplete these vital nutrients in their own bodies, so much so that it could lead to disease and possible death.

The good news is that we can do something about all these things except the hens getting too old to lay.

It’s not a bad idea to have a flock of mixed ages so you can count on eggs and not have to replace the entire flock.

Heritage breeds are hearty dual purpose chickens and lay much longer than most production bred hens.

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