Hatching Your Own Eggs: Tips for Optimal Storage & Handling

Hatching eggs is a delicate and exciting endeavor for both seasoned breeders and beginners. The journey from egg to a fluffy chick is a rewarding experience that demands careful attention to detail, particularly in the storage and handling of hatching eggs. If you’ve engere hatched eggs before we always recommend to start with cheap local eggs or hatch your own eggs from your flock before considering ordering our shipped eggs. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore essential practices to ensure the best hatch rates and healthy chicks.

1. Egg Selection:
Choose eggs from healthy and disease-free breeding stock. Ensure eggs are of good size, shape, and have a clean and uncracked shell. Eggs with irregularities should be set aside for consumption rather than hatching. Odd shaped eggs will not allow the chick proper room to grow and it will die in the egg or be malformed. Young Pullet eggs should never be hatched for the same reason.

2. Egg Collection:
Collect eggs regularly, preferably twice a day, to prevent eggs from sitting too long in the nest. We collect eggs 2-3 times a day here on the Farm, this reduces the risk of temperature fluctuations and the accumulation of dirt and bacteria.

3. Cleaning and Sanitization:
Gently wipe off visible dirt from eggs with a clean, dry cloth. Avoid washing eggs as moisture can remove the protective bloom and allow bacteria to penetrate the shell. Only clean eggs that are significantly dirty; otherwise, leave the natural bloom intact. If an egg is really covered in muck it’s best to not use that egg to incubate with.

4. Egg Storage:
Store hatching eggs in a cool and dry location with consistent temperatures around 50-70°F. Do not refrigerate eggs, as this can negatively impact embryo development. (Yes I know, TikTok and IG has videos of people hatching store bought refrigerated eggs. If you’re trying to experiment with that, go right on ahead but this article is not covering this topic today. If collecting eggs to hatch don’t refrigerate.) Use a dedicated egg storage container or carton, keeping them upright with the pointed end slightly elevated.

5. Egg Rotation:
Gently turn stored eggs daily to prevent the yolk from sticking to the shell membrane. This promotes proper embryo development by ensuring that the embryo doesn't attach to the inner shell.

6. Egg Turning:
When preparing for incubation, mark one side of the egg and turn them 180 degrees three times a day. Automatic incubators can assist with this process, ensuring even turning.

7. Incubator Setup:
Calibrate your incubator's temperature and humidity settings according to the specific requirements of the egg species you're hatching. Always place a reliable thermometer and hygrometer inside to monitor conditions accurately! I don’t care how fancy your incubator is! We’ve had humidity and temperature fluctuations in our brand new professional GQF Incubators before and found out too late. Always double check temperature and humidity especially with small or styrofoam incubators.

8. Candling:
Candle eggs around day 7 and day 14 of incubation to check for embryo development, blood rings, and early signs of problems. Remove any non-developing eggs to prevent potential contamination. (If you’ve had an egg ever explode…then you know the horror.)

9. Humidity Control:
Maintain appropriate humidity levels throughout the incubation process. Higher humidity is required during the later stages of development to prevent chicks from sticking to the shell.

10. Final Days:
As hatching nears, reduce turning and increase humidity. Avoid opening the incubator excessively during this critical period, as it can disrupt the hatching process.

11. Post-Hatch Care:
Once chicks hatch, allow them to dry in the incubator before transferring them to a brooder. Offer clean water, chick starter feed, and maintain a warm and safe environment.

Successfully hatching eggs requires a blend of patience, knowledge, and meticulous care. By following these guidelines for storing and handling hatching eggs, you'll maximize your chances of achieving high hatch rates and nurturing healthy, vibrant chicks. Remember, every step of the process, from egg selection to post-hatch care, contributes to the ultimate success of your hatching journey. Happy Hatching!!

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