Aug
03
2006

The chicken and the egg

I've noticed a lot of dead fledglings and raided nests lately. Sometimes, mixed in with all the broken eggshells, I find an unhatched baby bird. And that got me wondering: are grocery store eggs fertilized? How come you never come across one with an embryo or a little chicken inside? If they're not, why does a chicken spend the energy required to produce unfertilized eggs?

Egg (and chicken): (Photo by Peter Cooper)
Egg (and chicken): (Photo by Peter Cooper)

When you google "are chicken eggs fertilized?" you get a lot of responses. Guess lots of other people had the same question.

The answer is that chickens will lay eggs even when they've had no contact with a rooster. According to the "Ask a Scientist" feature of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute,

"If an egg has been fertilized, then the embryo inside has already divided several times but remains a group of unspecialized cells [at the time the egg is laid]. When the egg is incubated at about 37 to 38 °C, the embryonic cells differentiate to form a chick, which will hatch after 21 days. If the egg has not been fertilized, then the oocyte [or egg cell] within will never grow or divide, and the egg will never hatch. The eggs you buy at the supermarket are eggs that have never been fertilized.

Domestic chickens lay one egg every 26 to 28 hours (about one egg a day) for a period of 4 to 6 days. In between periods of egg laying, the hen rests. Wild birds may rest for months before laying more eggs, but domestic hens, specially bred for abundant egg production, may rest for as little as 1 day between egg-laying periods."

In commercial egg operations, hens are kept away from roosters, and the eggs are collected as they're laid. Chickens raised to produce eggs only need to mate to replace hens that get too old to lay eggs.

Sometimes you come across a grocery store egg that contains a blood spot. I was told, as a child, that a blood spot indicated a fertilized egg. But that's not so, according to the American Egg Board. Instead,

" Contrary to popular opinion, these tiny [blood] spots do not indicate a fertilized egg. Rather, they are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface during formation of the egg or by a similar accident in the wall of the oviduct. Less than 1% of all eggs produced have blood spots.

Mass candling methods reveal most eggs with blood spots and those eggs are removed but, even with electronic spotters, it is impossible to catch all of them. As an egg ages, the yolk takes up water from the albumen to dilute the blood spot so, in actuality, a blood spot indicates that the egg is fresh. Both chemically and nutritionally, these eggs are fit to eat. The spot can be removed with the tip of a knife, if you wish."

What about those weird white stringy bits you see when you crack an egg? The American Egg Board says they're called chalazae:

"[Chalazae (singular=chalaza) are] ropey strands of egg white which anchor the yolk in place in the center of the thick white. They are neither imperfections nor beginning embryos.

The more prominent the chalazae, the fresher the egg. Chalazae do not interfere with the cooking or beating of the white and need not be removed, although some cooks like to strain them from stirred custard."

Here's a neat site about the structure of a chicken egg.

And another one about how a hen lays an egg.

Egg trivia

And a bunch of other resources about chickens and eggs.





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Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

The other hens are in the coop with the rooster if thats what you mean but they have never gone broody and the rooster never attacks them.

Also when the rooster sees the black chicken he immediatly chases after her and mounts her but then when he gets off she doesnt move and stays with her back down, this is when he starts to peck the back of her neck and thats where she bleeds from.

Sometimes when he starts to peck at her she gets up and starts to run away but when she does the rooster just chases after her, mounts her and does the same thing over agian until she finds a hiding spot somewhere where he can't get to her.

posted on Thu, 12/11/2008 - 7:12pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

The fact that she just sits there after he mounts her is related to her receptiveness for mating. When roosters mount hens they usually grasp on to the back of the neck so you often see a loss of feathers from there and in severe cases bleeding.

She is obviously the low chicken in the pecking order. I would just make sure she has roosts she can escape to and let things settle down. If they don't you'll have to make a choice between the rooster or the hen.

posted on Fri, 12/12/2008 - 9:04am
missy's picture
missy says:

first, thank you for the info on the white egg yolk. now I have another problem with my chickens. they seem to have a cold, lots of mucous, runny eyes, and diarriah. what in the world is wrong, and what can I do about it?

posted on Fri, 12/19/2008 - 11:29am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Unfortunately the symptoms you describe could be several things - and only a necropsy would tell for sure. There is obviously some sort of respiratory problem, which is most likely viral in origin and hard to treat. Antibiotics help to some degree - but mainly by prevently them from getting something else while their immune systems are being challenged. Your feed store should have a broad-spectrum antibiotic you could add to their water. Again, the diarhea could be anything - the antibiotics may help that. As long is their is no blood in their droppings it shouldn't be life threatening. Blood would indicate a severe enteric infection - which could be bacterial or protozoan (coccidiosis).

posted on Sat, 12/20/2008 - 5:16pm
missy's picture
missy says:

thank you so much for your info Dr Jacob. I have another question. While I am giving them the antibiotic, which is called oxytetracycline, can we eat the eggs, or will it make us sick? Thanks again for all your help. Missy

posted on Sat, 12/27/2008 - 1:57pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

When giving any medication, always read what is on the label. If you can't eat eggs when given to layers it will say so on the medication label. Depending on the dose it shouldn't be a problem - but always check the label.

posted on Tue, 12/30/2008 - 9:20am
Ericka's picture
Ericka says:

Our dog killed our gander almost a week ago. Then, today, we saw our goose had laid two eggs. What is the chance that the eggs are fertilized?

posted on Sun, 12/28/2008 - 1:08pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

I'm not 100% certain of the fertilty of goose eggs, but with chicken eggs there is a good chance - mating once a week is sufficient. If I recall correctly, fertility can be a problem in waterfowl (ducks and geese) as well as turkeys so the likelihood goes down - but is not zero. The only way to know for sure is to incubate them.

posted on Tue, 12/30/2008 - 9:23am
Missy's picture
Missy says:

Thank you again Dr. Jacob. You've really been a big help to me. And you were right about the runny stool. It has also gone away. I'm just a new hobbiest with chickens, but it's nice to know that I will be able to ask questions. Have a great New Year!!!!

posted on Tue, 12/30/2008 - 6:27pm
Pamela's picture
Pamela says:

Can anyone give me some tips regarding too many unfertilised eggs ? After the poor hen(s) have patiently sat for three weeks only one chick produced for about 10 eggs. Have 3 healthy cockerels. Obviously they are not performing. This has happened several times recently. What are we doing or not doing as we should to get our cockerels to perform their duties ???
Any help or advice would be gratefully received.
Pamela ( a novice )

posted on Sun, 01/04/2009 - 9:46am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

You didn't indicate how many hens the roosters are 'servicing'. Typically you need 1 rooster per 5 hens. If you have too many roosters they tend to fight with each other and don't perform their duties. If you have too few the hens will not get 'serviced' frequently enough for good fertilization.
You also need to consider the incubation conditions - did the eggs get cold? 1 chick out of 10 eggs is a combination of fertilization and hatchability. It is good to break open unhatched eggs to see if they were fertilized or not.

posted on Mon, 01/05/2009 - 9:56am
Sarah's picture
Sarah says:

I was wondering my grandfather has
5 girl chickens and 2 roosters I wanted to
know if I could hatch some of the eggs at my
house without an incubater also I wondered
if you move the egg to much will you kill the
chick and how can I hatch it without an incubater

posted on Sun, 01/11/2009 - 7:44pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

It is not possible to hatch eggs without some sort of heat source - typically from an incubator. You can purchase some pretty cheap incubators - there are also some designs online to make your own.

Avian eggs must be incubated at the correct temperature and humidity - conditions that can't be meet very well without an incubator.

Not sure what you mean by moving the egg 'too much'. Any rough handling will cause damage to any developing embryo.

posted on Wed, 01/14/2009 - 8:50pm
Sarah's picture
Sarah says:

I love chickens!
ok I know that was weird
anyway if an egg of a chicken is
in the nest and it's cold out why
aren't my chickens laying on them won't
they freeze!!!!
I want to hatch chicken eggs but
I don't have an encubater where
can you get one and is it hopeless
for my chick egg to hatch that's been in
the fridge a couple of days I have them
in a nest surrounded in cotton next to the heater
and the heat's about 70deg.F
I've had them about room temperature about a day
please answer my question
thank you!

posted on Sun, 01/11/2009 - 8:11pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Chicken eggs need to be incubated at around 99F - so 70F is not nearly enough. You really do need an incubator.
Heating the egg at sub-optimal temperature can result in abnormal development of the embryo, and typically death.
Storing eggs in the fridge can reduce hatchability, though only a couple of days won't be too bad.
Hens only sit on eggs when they have the hormonal changes necessary to go broody. Not every hen will go broody - in fact, some never do (such as the hens that provide the eggs that you get in the grocery store).
You can purchase small incubators online. Most feed stores have small incubators for sale. You can even find instructions online for how to make your own incubator.

posted on Wed, 01/14/2009 - 9:00pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Just wanted to say a big thank-you to Dr Jacob. I recently bought an egg from a store and when I cracked it open originally thought that I had a double yolked egg but one of the yolks looked like it had gone bad, when I separated the yolk it was in fact a tiny egg with a shell and all. I've been trying to find out if it was a normal thing, this site is great never learned so much about chickens before....

posted on Wed, 02/11/2009 - 9:27am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

While such eggs are not common, they are not unheard of. Typically they get removed at candling. I'm surprised the one you purchased made it through the candling process - should be an obvious problem when candled.

To understand how such eggs are formed it is important to know a bit about avian reproduction - they have a single ovary and oviduct. Once the yolk is ovulated from the ovary to the oviduct the typical egg components are added - albumen/egg white, shell membranes and shell. Sometimes a piece of something will break off from the wall of the oviduct and begin the passage downward initiating the formation of an 'egg' around it. Then a real ovulation occurs. The smaller egg may back up the oviduct to join the yolk that was released, typically right before the shell membranes are formed. The result is an 'egg' within an egg.

posted on Thu, 02/12/2009 - 7:54am
Craig's picture
Craig says:

I have a hen that appears to have gone broody. She sits in the nesting boxes almost all the time, has lost all her feathers on her underside, eats little, and sits on the other hens' eggs. She also occasionally lays an egg. I have no roosters in the coop. Is she broody? Psychologically disturbed?

posted on Fri, 02/13/2009 - 12:43pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

I guess the psychologically disturbed is all a matter of perspective, but I suspect that she is broody. Hens can go broody when there are no roosters - it is a hormonal thing.

While I doubt there is much experimental research into what can stop hen from going broody there are lots of antidiotal measures tried and found successful by some. The most successful (and animal welfare friendly) is to remove her from the nest and put her in a small cage within the poultry house. Don't forget to give her food and water. When she can get comfortable as in a broody box, she will off stop being broody within a few days.

posted on Mon, 02/16/2009 - 2:16pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Thank you for helping me win an argument with my husband!

posted on Wed, 02/25/2009 - 3:13am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I recently put several eggs into an incubator for my first try at hatching them this way. I used a thermometer that wasn't meant for this incubator and 2 weeks later was told that the thermometer that came with the incubator was the one I should have been using. I won't get into why I used the other thermometer but in doing this I had the incubator set on 85 degrees thinking it was 98 degrees (which was what was showing on the thermometer). After 2 weeks at 85 degrees I changed the thermometer and reset the temperature to 98 degrees. I have had 2 chicks to hatch on the 24th day. They seem healthy although the shell seemed too tough for them to break through by themselves. I did have to help them after I saw that they had not been able to make a large enough hole in the shell so that they could emerge. I don't think they could have gotten out at all and would have died without help. It is now the 25th day and there is no sign of others hatching at this time. Do you think there is a possibility any of the others will hatch. What are the chances? I didn't think any would hatch after my mistake and gave up on the 23rd day and cracked one open outside. Of course, you would know that there was a living chick inside that wasn't quiet ready to hatch and died. So... my delima is to wait a few more days or start over?

posted on Thu, 02/26/2009 - 11:48pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

When eggs are incubated at suboptimal temperatures there are two things that happen. One is slower development so that they hatch late (thus the 24 days versus the typical 21 days). The second is abnormal development. This normally results in the death of the developing embryo - though, as you found, not always. The other consequence of abnormal development is incorrect positioning of the embryo prior to hatching. The embryo must have its head under its left wing. It is extremely difficult for a chick to hatch when in any other position.

My recommendation - candle the eggs and see if there is anything in the eggs. Eggs that were infertile or had early mortality will appear clear. Those with chicks should be dark. You might even see if the chick move.

posted on Fri, 02/27/2009 - 9:59am
Colby LaDuke's picture
Colby LaDuke says:

hey i am incubating some eggs i know most of the basic rules of incubation but if you have any tips that could make my hatch outcome even better please let me know...

posted on Sun, 03/01/2009 - 3:06pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Just need to maintain the correct temperature and humidity as well as turn them several times a day.

See the Nebraska factsheet on hatching eggs at http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/live/g1549/build/g1549.pdf

Jacquie

posted on Mon, 03/02/2009 - 12:05pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

The reason chicken lay eggs anyway is the body is ovulating for the potential of fertilization. Humans eggs are released simiarily we just cannot see it with the eye. I have seen eggs with unborn chicks when we raised our own or bought fresh from farmers who have ing roosters running around and keep their chickens free range. Eggs need to be collected frequently. It seems having the rooster around makes the hens produce more. Are they happier or just hormone influenced? ;-)

posted on Wed, 03/04/2009 - 12:31pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

It is a myth that having roosters around increases egg production. The main reason free-ranging producers keep a rooster is to keep the hens closer 'to home' so the eggs can all be found and collected. Without a rooster, hens tend to forage farther from home base and can find hiding spots for their eggs making it hard for the producer to find them.

posted on Wed, 03/04/2009 - 3:40pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

hi can some one help please my hen had been sitting tight for 10 days last night she got didturbed and has left her nest the eggs felt cold this morning if they are incubated will they still hatch or would the cold have killed them

posted on Fri, 03/06/2009 - 6:09am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

It is the internal egg temperature that is most important -more so than the external temperature that you detect when you felt the eggs.
If she comes back to the nest and continues incubating some of them should hatch, though it will be reduced compared to if they had not been chilled.

posted on Mon, 03/09/2009 - 1:28pm
missy's picture
missy says:

I had a broody hen, so I isolated her and put ten eggs under her to hatch. I was very pleased to see that 8 out of ten eggs hatched! When can I put her and her chicks in with the other chickens?

posted on Mon, 03/30/2009 - 9:00pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Whether or not she can re-join the flock depends on the current size and disposition of the flock itself. If there are aggressive birds in the flock (roosters or hens) you may want to wait till the chicks are a little older. If it is a small, easy going flock you can probably re-introduce them right away. Either way I would watch them the first little while that they are together to see how they do.

posted on Tue, 03/31/2009 - 7:04am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I am a vegetarian and a friend recently gave me some eggs from his farm. I asked how he knew they werent fertilized since he had roosters with the hens. He said they werent in the nest long enough to be fertilized. I'm sure he knew what he meant, but it didn't sound right to me. I gave the eggs away, and I'm glad i did since i looked up some answers on here. They are ok to eat, but not for a vegetarian. Thanks for the information!

posted on Tue, 03/31/2009 - 10:46am
Keri Riley's picture
Keri Riley says:

I just opened an egg on my skillet and there was a disgusting half formed chicken inside. EEK! My eggs are from my own chickens, gathered daily because we are in Alaska an they will freeze, then refrigerated the same day. We have one rooster. SO, the egg must have started to turn into a chick pretty quick to be in my fridge and be half formed. I'm so grossed out. I'm getting rid of the rooster!

posted on Mon, 04/06/2009 - 5:53pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

It sounds like the hens sneaked one past you - it takes 21 days for a full chick to form. If you found one that was half way through the incubation period that is at least 10 days. There is no way that a chick formed in less than a day - so its not the roosters fault.

posted on Thu, 04/09/2009 - 7:14am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hello.
My hen has layed an egg recently (1-2 days ago). We do have a rooster. She has just layed the egg and I am not completely sure if it is fertile... i'd just like to check. The egg is a white colour and the shell has a few tiny fleshy-coloured dots on it. Does this mean it is fertile.

It's quite rare for my hens to lay eggs and the hen hardly ever gets broody.

posted on Sat, 04/11/2009 - 1:43pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

This is a commonly asked question - there is no way to tell whether or not an egg is fertile without breaking the egg open or incubating it and seeing if a chick develops.

The colored dots you describe are simply the egg shell pattern laid by that chicken and has nothing to do with whether or not it is fertile or not.

You indicated that your hens rarely lay eggs - is this a breed thing? Most breeds of chickens can be brought into production with correct light management programs.

posted on Mon, 04/13/2009 - 5:27am
Chickley's picture
Chickley says:

I am trying to hatch some eggs. Could anyone tell me how I should look after them?

posted on Sun, 04/12/2009 - 1:21am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

It is best to follow the instructions given with the incubator.

For more on embryology and hatching chicks see - the Embryology in the classroom website at http://4hembryology.psu.edu/

posted on Mon, 04/13/2009 - 5:30am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hello =)
I have a hen sitting on an egg that is fertile right now.. and i have two hens in total and one rooster. I was just wondering whether the hen sitting on the egg is in any danger with the rooster sleeping in the same area?

Please help?

Thanks ^-^

posted on Sun, 04/12/2009 - 2:52pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Typically the rooster will not be a problem for brooding hens, although it is dependent on the temperament of the rooster. If you have one hen sitting and one not, the rooster does have a hen to boss around and care for so should leave the brooding hen alone.

posted on Mon, 04/13/2009 - 7:54am
New babies's picture
New babies says:

I just purchased some Easter chicks for my kids. I'm new to this. I remember my dad raising chickens for a while when I was growing up and thought that it would be a good experience for my kids. I would like this to be long term and have found a lot of useful information on this page. Thank you so much.

My questions are, how can I tell what breed of chickens we bought and about how old they are? They already have their wing feathers and some of their tailfeathers. Most of them have white feathers but 3 of them have a light brown or tan colored feathers. The kids just had to have the dyed chicks, does the dye harm them in any way or are their chances for a long healthy life the same as any other chicks?

Thank you.

posted on Tue, 04/14/2009 - 11:35pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

There is no guarantee that you have purebred chickens. If they are, you can find some photos at the University of Oklahoma website at http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/poultry/

But you will probably have to wait till they are older to figure out the breed - based on shape, skin color, comb type, etc. Feather color is that last thing to look at - it will tell you the variety of the breed you identify.

I was surprised to hear that they colored the chicks - most states have banned it. They did dye chicks for Easter for many years. The ban is not related to the health of the chicks - and the dye shouldn't have any adverse affects on their health and they will loose it as they loose their down and grow more feathers.

posted on Sun, 04/19/2009 - 10:37pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

'Swine flu' and chickens - Information source is the National Chicken Council (USA)

I would just like to provide some information with regards to the outbreak of influenza Type A (H1N1), refered to in the media as “swine flu”. Cases in the United States, and other countries are believed to be linked to travel to Mexico.

The H1N1 virus is a combination of human, swine and avian genes. It is a human virus, and scientists believe that it is unlikely to infect chickens. Laboratory tests this summer should provide additional information on the virus and its behavior in animals.

There is absolutely no swine flu health concerns from consumption of chicken, or pork - USDA states: “Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food.”

Even though it is unlikely that the virus could be passed from humans to chickens, as a precaution, it is recommended that anyone with flu symptoms should not be allowed on poultry or swine farms.

According to the CDC: “The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu.”

(Industry) www.nationalchickencouncil.com
(Culinary) www.eatchicken.com
(News) http://chickennews.wordpress.com

posted on Wed, 04/29/2009 - 8:26am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I HAVE A BABY CHIC THAT IS ABOUT 5 WEEKS OLD I HAD GOT 40 THE DAY I GOT IT ALL THE OTHERS ARE OUT IN THE PIN NOW BUT SHE IS STILL AS SMALL AS SHE WAS WHEN I GOT IT IT BEEN ABOUT 5 WEEKS WHY IS SHE STILL SMALL

posted on Sun, 05/03/2009 - 12:46pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

What type of chickens - and where did you get them? I have occassionally seen a wrong chick or two get in a batch and this chick may be different from the others (broiler vs layer).

As with many groups of offspring there is sometimes a 'runt.' This may just be the case with this chick. It may also be sick, reducing its appetite and thus its growth.

posted on Mon, 05/04/2009 - 6:26am
Dallas's picture
Dallas says:

Maybe its here breed or the genes

posted on Sun, 12/27/2009 - 4:05am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i have a small hen she started laying eggs about 2 months ago and we threw some eggs away but now she has 19 eggs do you think she will start setting on them or what should i do i also have 3 bigger hens that started laying eggs about 2 weeks ago when do you think they will start setting on them can any one help me please i have all together 5 big hens and 1 big rooster and 4 small hens and 1 small rooster but they are not all together i have them in different lots i just want to know when the hens will start setting on the eggs

posted on Tue, 05/05/2009 - 9:51pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Not all breeds of chickens go broody. Some breeds are very poor mothers and may never go broody. So can't really help without knowing what breed they are.

Hens also go broody on their own time - as the hormones get them ready for it. I would keep the eggs and eat them till you see a hen who doesn't leave the nest and then put some eggs from the various chickens you have under here.

posted on Thu, 05/07/2009 - 6:52am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have a question.... i have a chicken egg with a few small cracks in it.... I didn't want to glue them cause I thought that might hurt the chick bakin' inside...So I taped it along the cracks....Will it still hatch??

posted on Wed, 05/06/2009 - 11:16pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Depends on when in the incubation period it cracked. The tape covers up pores in the shells cutting off some of their respiration system (carbon dioxide out of the egg and oxygen in). Depending on how far along it is, it is unlikely that the egg will hatch. If it cracked early in the incubation period the cracked shell will also let in bacteria which may result in a rotten egg.

posted on Thu, 05/07/2009 - 6:55am
Fred labby's picture
Fred labby says:

How do you tell if the egg is fertilized?

posted on Mon, 06/08/2009 - 6:50pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

There is no way to tell if an egg is fertile without breaking it open. When broken open there is a little white spot on the yolk of unfertilized eggs. In fertilized eggs it looks like a tiny donut (the white spot now has a clear area in the middle).

There are photos of a fertile and infertile egg on the Embryology in the classroom page at http://4hembryology.psu.edu/fertilen.html

posted on Tue, 06/09/2009 - 11:25am
Missy's picture
Missy says:

I have a chicken that has a large lump on her breast. It looks like it is getting bigger. What should I do?

posted on Sun, 06/14/2009 - 5:15pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

I guess it depends what the lump is. What does the lump feel like? What type of chicken and what age? Meat type chickens that spend a lot of time just sitting around sometimes get what are called 'breast blisters.' Not much that can be done for a breast blister once it starts.

posted on Mon, 06/15/2009 - 9:19am
missy's picture
missy says:

She's a black star, and the lump is quite hard. She acts fine, and eats good. Thank you for answering back. I have another question for you. My roosters have this funny head move that they make. Almost like they are dancing with their head. I'm just full of questions, aren't I? Thanks again.

posted on Fri, 06/19/2009 - 8:48pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

The lump is not a breast blister since it is hard. Not sure what it would be - but if she is behaving fine and shows no signs of distress I wouldn't worry to much about it. Just keep an eye on it that it doesn't get bigger.

posted on Mon, 06/22/2009 - 9:44pm
amassey's picture
amassey says:

We have guinaes that occasionally lay a "rubbery egg" -can anyone explain why?

They are completely free range on 3 acres of fenced in land (in Flagstaff, AZ). They have a wonderful coop & are fully protected at night.

In addition to free range food, they are supplemented with top of the line egg layer food and scratch.

The occasionally rubbery egg has us at a loss.

posted on Sun, 06/21/2009 - 4:59pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

What do you mean by a rubbery egg? If it is a shell-less egg it is typically the result of laying an egg prematurely (similar idea to a mis-carriage in women) which can result from being startled or stressed.

posted on Mon, 06/22/2009 - 9:46pm
Chantel Vaughn's picture
Chantel Vaughn says:

Dr. Jacob,
I did a Google search to find the answer to how long a fertilized egg (chicken or duck) can be held and in what environment (to collect a viable clutch) before being incubated. Liza's site article with all your comments below was at the top of the Google Search and for good reason. After reading your dedicated responses to everyone else, I found the answer to my question (55 degrees and 70% humidity approx 10 days) and learned SO much more. I was raised on a hobby farm and operate my own now. I know a bit about poultry and learned a lot more. I was fascinated with all of the information. I enjoyed reading all three pages of questions and comments even though my original intent was to just get an answer to one quick question! Except for the folks who asked the same redundant questions without reading that you had already answered their FAQ, I enjoyed every bit of it. I'm amazed at how many times you can patiently answer the same questions on this thread and how professionally and thoroughly you answer the scientific and less common ones too. Thank you very much for dedicating so much time on us! Respectfully, Chantel

posted on Fri, 06/26/2009 - 12:33am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

hello,ive ordered fertilized eggs in the mail for the first time and was wondering how long i should let them settle ( if at all ) before putting them in the incubatoer...thanks in advance

posted on Tue, 07/14/2009 - 11:43pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

I would wait a day and then put them in - assuming they arrive in good condition (which they should).

posted on Wed, 07/15/2009 - 9:41am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i have an adorable buff colored silkie rooster that i just adopted.i already love him to death,but he has a flocking problem.he flocks me everyday.i usually laugh at him them pick him up and give him a big hug but i have a young grand child who loves my chickens.i am afraid he may hurt her.i was wondering if there is a way to get him to stop flocking people.i think hes at least a year old...
thanks

posted on Wed, 07/15/2009 - 7:23pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Not sure what you are referring to by 'flocking'. Chickens are a flock animal in that they like to be with others and have a hard time when they are along. If you are referring to the rooster getting in your way as he tries to be with you - I would suggest locking him up or getting him another chicken (best to not be another rooster) to keep him company.

posted on Sun, 07/19/2009 - 6:21am
peco's picture
peco says:

i have a hen that is a natural brooder. when her chicks begin laying, is there an inbreeding concern if i still have the same rooster that is the father?

posted on Sun, 08/02/2009 - 9:46pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Inbreeding has been used with poultry for years, to obtain the highly selected lines of egg laying and meat chickens we have today, but commercially they house larger numbers of hens together in a barn reducing the possibility of mother/son and father/daughter crosses.

Inbreeding in a small flock can become a problem if daughters are always bred with their fathers over several generations. I doubt you will see much of a problem in a few generations, but it is not recommended that you cross brother/sister.

posted on Tue, 08/04/2009 - 9:01am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

what came first the chicken or the egg? Personally i think the chicken....b/c the same could be said of any creature....whether egg born or or live born.

posted on Mon, 08/03/2009 - 1:08pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

The answer to the chicken and egg question has been a topic of discussion for many generations. The answer, of course, depends on your spiritual beliefs.

If you believe in creationism, the chicken came first since God created all the animals which then reproduced to continue the species.
It was on the Fifth Day of Creation Week that He created "every winged fowl after [their] kind" (Genesis 1:21) complete with the DNA to reproduce that kind. Then He "blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply" (v.22) using that DNA.

If you believe in evolution, the egg came first. In all living things, evolution occurs through changes in the DNA of the species. The evolutionist believe chickens evolved from other kinds of birds, although which ones remains unclear.
In the evolution of a chicken DNA from the sperm of a species closely related to chickens combined with DNA from the egg of the same, or a different, similarly related species and the resulting DNA in the combination produced the first eggs of the chicken (embryo) which go on to become the first chicken.

The Wikipedia encyclopedia has a good discussion of some of the other theories - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_or_the_egg

Wiki Answers website has a collection of people's responses to this question - see http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Which_came_first_the_chicken_or_the_egg

posted on Tue, 08/04/2009 - 9:20am
kenny's picture
kenny says:

what an interesting site this is well done just got an allotment going to start some chickens

posted on Sat, 08/15/2009 - 5:53am
HELP ME!!!'s picture
HELP ME!!! says:

My chicken has been laying on eggs for a few weeks now. I know the first few were layed on for 20+ days but then 3 more chickens came and layed eggs in the same nest and began laying all together. Some of the eggs are exploding and i know that is not good at all for the eggs or the chickens. (or the humans, it STINKS)
After a few exploded we decided to take them and crack them but after we cracked like 10 rotten ones we found a baby chick! we felt terrible. So now we leave them alone, but they keep exploding! How can I tell which ones are fertilized and which ones are not? I tried candleing them but I dont have a light strong enough. Does the water test work?

posted on Wed, 08/26/2009 - 11:01am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

There is no way to tell if an egg is fertile or not without breaking it open or incubating the eggs.

The incubation period of a chicken is 21 days so if you are not getting chicks after that time something is wrong. The fact that they are exploding is not good - definitely contaminated with bacteria.

You could try collecting all the eggs and leaving something like a golf ball or two in the nest for the hen to stay broody. Once you have enough clean eggs you can put them under the hen all at one time.

Don't store the eggs in the fridge since it is too cold. Just find a dry, cool place to store them for a few days, till you have enough.

You should either prevent the other hens from entering the next box or move her to another area that is not used. Make sure the nest box is clean with clean shavings or other litter-type material.

After about 10 days you can candle the incubated eggs. If they are clear there is no embryo development and the egg was probably infertile. If there is a blood ring near the air cell it had embryo development but the embryo died. If you see mold or other 'stuff' growing on the inside of the shell is it probably rotten.

Rotten eggs tend to be much lighter than eggs that are not so try not to break any eggs that are particularly light weight.

posted on Thu, 08/27/2009 - 7:03am
janet's picture
janet says:

We have mixed breed laying hens and rhode island reds for the purpose of eating the eggs. Recently we noticed particles ,(black and brown) like sand inside the egg and stuck to the yoke. One of the eggs has a larger particle mixed in that is shaped like a small worm and is flesh color. It has no movement that I can see. What could this be? Is it worms? We have wormed twice and use antibiodies. We have not seen any worms in the fecies, but we have lost two of our hens.

posted on Wed, 09/30/2009 - 10:39am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Worms are a possibility - but you would need to have a severe infestation for the worms to pass into the eggs. If it was worms they would be located more in the egg white than on the yolk.

Another possibility is blood spots. Brown egg laying breeds are more prone to bloods spots (and they are harder to find because of the brown shell) than white egg layers. I suspect this may be the case since they are on the yolk. The ovaries are highly vascularized with a lot of small blood vessels. As the 'yolk' (along with the female genetic material or ova) is ovulated some of these blood vessels may break leading to blood being desposited on the yolk. A vitamin K (which is important in blood clotting) deficiency will increase the incidence of blood spots.

Are you finding the 'particles' in the freshly laid eggs? If so they should be red if they are blood spots (as time passes the blood breaks down leaving a brown or flesh colored spot).

What worming and antibiotic medications are you using? Most are not approved for laying hens so be sure to check you labels to make sure they are not the source of the problem.

posted on Thu, 10/01/2009 - 9:07am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Is there a way to fertilise chicken eggs without the rooster (artificial)

posted on Mon, 10/05/2009 - 5:26pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

While you can fertilize chicken eggs with out a mating, you can't without a rooster. Unlike cattle semen, avian semen can not be frozen, sold and used on a farm with no bulls. And unlike swine semen it does not last long after 'milking' the rooster (that is actually what it is called!). The reproductive organs of a male bird are internal rather than external as with mammals. The sperm require totally different storage conditions - including temperature.

Artificial insemination is used in all large commercial turkey operations since the males are too big to mate naturally but the toms (male turkeys) are kept on the farm, semen collected and diluted, and then used to inseminate several hens.

Artificial insemination is also used in some research with species other than turkeys and for some endangered species being hand raised, but AI is not routinely used commercially except with turkeys.

posted on Tue, 10/06/2009 - 3:04pm
ChickenQueen's picture
ChickenQueen says:

I have a quick question....
I have several hens that lay eggs. EVERY day my husband and I collect the eggs that the hens have left for us FRESH from that day. Often times we check and collect twice a day for eggs. Then we eat our eggs...tasty...
Now, when we crack an egg open usually they are perfect. JUST RECENTLY we have been getting eggs that literally have a GREEN yolk freshly cracked and NOT cooked....Now can you tell me why the egg yolk is green? Please remember that we collect the eggs daily and they are all FRESH. Sometimes JUST laid minutes before we crack them open for food.... PLEASE HELP.

posted on Thu, 10/22/2009 - 1:48am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Are your chickens outside and free to roam around? If so, anything different where they have been going? Some plants, if eaten, will cause green yolks - for example: - Seed pods of Shepherd’s purse and pennycress.

Have they gotten into pimiento peppers? They can change yolk color - but they need to have eaten a fair amount of it.

Have you changed feed? Is the feed currently being fed old? Some molds produce a mycotoxin that can affect yolk color.

Does the feed contain cottonseed meal, or do the hens have access to cattle feed (which sometimes uses cottonseed meal). That can adversely affect yolk color.

The only things I can think of for the moment. Hope that helps.

posted on Thu, 10/22/2009 - 11:33am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

Are your chickens outside and free to roam around? If so, anything different where they have been going? Some plants, if eaten, will cause green yolks - for example: - Seed pods of Shepherd’s purse and pennycress.

Have they gotten into pimiento peppers? They can change yolk color - but they need to have eaten a fair amount of it.

Have you changed feed? Is the feed currently being fed old? Some molds produce a mycotoxin that can affect yolk color.

Does the feed contain cottonseed meal, or do the hens have access to cattle feed (which sometimes uses cottonseed meal). That can adversely affect yolk color.

The only things I can think of for the moment. Hope that helps.

posted on Thu, 10/22/2009 - 11:33am
Russell's picture
Russell says:

I just found a clutch of 8 eggs laid by my dominique. I've been gathering eggs from a Marans for the past month or so, but just located the dom's nest in the bushes by the house (my chickens are completely free range, having given up on the coop to roost in a cedar tree). How do I know if the eggs are too old to eat? If I leave the eggs, will she go broody and hatch them out in mid December (it only occasionally dips below freezing here)?
thanks for any help.

posted on Tue, 11/17/2009 - 9:31am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Dr. Jacquie Jacob
University of Kentucky - Poultry extension specialist

You can candle the eggs - if the eggs are rotten you'll get an indication. If they are very light weight - handle with care since they may explode.

If you don't have a candler, put the eggs in water - fresh eggs sink and old eggs float.

If the eggs have been in a nest and dirty, I wouldn't bother eat them because they may have bacterial contamination - probably not worth risking it for 8 eggs.

If you leave the eggs she MAY become broody and hatch out chicks - but no guarantee.she will. Broodiness is controlled by hormones and it is unusual for hens to become broody this late in the year.

posted on Tue, 11/17/2009 - 9:52pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

my hens lay brown eggs but yesterday iwent to gether them and they were offwhite same thing today . dose anyone know why?

posted on Sun, 12/13/2009 - 4:09pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

There are a number of things that could have caused this. The shell pigment is added when the developing 'egg' is in the shell gland portion of the oviduct. If the hen is startled and lays the egg prematurely, it may not be fully pigmented.

Disease is another possibility, but I wouldn't expect that to be the case unless you have poorly pigmented eggs regularly.

posted on Mon, 12/14/2009 - 11:25am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

My chickens usually lay eggs in hut we have for them but on 2 occassions have found that we have not gotten anything for over a week. When we went looking for them we found bundle of eggs in long grass. Again other day one chicken wasn't coming home at night and 3days later it appeared, we then followed footprints and found it sitting on 16 eggs in long reeds in middle of a field. Can you tell me why it is laying away from home on some occassions and is there anything we can do? The first time this happened we put one egg in their box and they layed in hut again but now back to laying anywhere this is first time ever seen her sit on them.

posted on Thu, 12/17/2009 - 3:46pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

If she is sitting on the eggs she has become broody - and her hormones will encourage her to find a secluded spot to lay and incubate her eggs.

You didn't indicate the breed - some breeds of chickens are more prone to going broody than others.

Chickens typically lay their eggs in the morning. The best way to ensure that they lay in the hut is to not let them out till later in the day, after the majority have laid their egg for the day.

posted on Fri, 12/18/2009 - 8:37am
berry's picture
berry says:

I buy free range eggs. Within that dozen eggs are a few with runny yolks when cracked. What causes this and is there something deficient in the chickens diet??

posted on Tue, 12/29/2009 - 4:17pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

The eggs could be old. If not, the chickens may have picked up a plant while free-ranging that affected egg quality.

posted on Thu, 12/31/2009 - 2:27am
Hailey's picture
Hailey says:

I tryed to incubate 12 eggs last summer that i got from my neighbor and we had no idea is they were fertilized. Out of the 12 eggs only one egg hatched. I gave the unhatched eggs to my neice and nephew to break and they found 1 egg that had a dead baby chick. i was just wondering if there was any way to tell if the egg is fertilized or not

posted on Sat, 01/16/2010 - 5:39pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

You can not tell if an egg is fertilized or not without breaking it open - which would then, of course, make it unsuitable for incubation. The only way to know is to incubate the eggs(s) a few days and then candle them to see if there is any embryo development.

posted on Tue, 01/19/2010 - 8:11am
Joanna's picture
Joanna says:

What is the purpose of a chicken coop? We have two hens who have been without a chicken coop since we got them, some two months ago. We live in South Africa where it is warm most of the year, however it does get to 10-15 degrees C in winter. We've just found one hen to be sitting on 18 eggs and prior to her brooding she and her pal spent the nights on top of a trellis. They seem content, even with our three cats around, but perhaps they would be happier with a coop.

Also, we're wondering about her eggs. We couldn't handle the rooster's early morning wake-up calls so we gave him away, but we're thinking that since she's sitting on the eggs she was fertilized before he was sent away. My question is would she sit on unfertilized eggs? And she has pushed one egg out and isn't sitting on it. What's that all about?

Thanks for the help.

posted on Sun, 01/17/2010 - 3:03pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Q. What is the purpose of a chicken coop?

A chicken coop is simply a means of confining your flock. This may be to protect them from poor weather conditions and/or to protect them from predators. Many people in the city use coops to prevent their hens from running loose and into their neighbor's property (which is not allowed in most city ordinances that actually allow urban chickens in the first place).
A coop with a laying flock is also helpful for making sure the hens lay their eggs in a place where they can be collected daily.

posted on Tue, 01/19/2010 - 8:15am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Q. We're wondering about her eggs. We couldn't handle the rooster's early morning wake-up calls so we gave him away, but we're thinking that since she's sitting on the eggs she was fertilized before he was sent away. My question is would she sit on unfertilized eggs?

Hens will sit on eggs regardless of whether or not they are fertilized or not. When did you take the rooster away? If the hen was already sitting on the eggs when you took the rooster away they are probably fertile. But, if you took the rooster away before she laid the eggs she is sitting on, then the chances decrease with time. A hen will typically fertilized eggs for several days after mating with a rooster. She CAN still produce fertilized eggs a few weeks after, the fertility rate drops dramatically.

posted on Tue, 01/19/2010 - 8:18am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Q. And she has pushed one egg out and isn't sitting on it. What's that all about?

There are a couple of reason:
1. She may have been disturbed (by other hens, other farm animals, predators, etc) and the egg got pushed out during the fuss and left there.
2. She may realize that it is different than the others with regards to embryo development. As embryo develop proceeds the developing chicks do vocalize somewhat and the hen can sense these. If one egg was not very 'active' she may have decided to abandon it.
3. Chickens sometimes do things 'just because' and since we can't read their minds sometimes we have no idea why.

posted on Tue, 01/19/2010 - 8:22am
khadijah's picture
khadijah says:

Where can I get a fertized egg at and how fast can I get it. The kind of eggs I need is a buff oppenington I think.

posted on Fri, 02/05/2010 - 11:16am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Getting a single fertilized egg is not that easy, unless you know someone who raises buff orpingtons. You can typically order fertile eggs for shipment through the mail - depending on where you are. There is a list of hatcheries for the different states at http://www.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/links/hatcheries.html

posted on Tue, 02/09/2010 - 8:05am
Camo's picture
Camo says:

Recently I have purchased a pair of Japanese quails and they have started to lay eggs. I want to hatch these eggs but i don't have an incubator and I have researched that it's very rare that quails go broody. I was wondering if i could put the eggs under my old english game bantam (OEGB) hen the next time she goes broody since she is a small breed. Will she try and hatch the eggs? If the eggs do hatch, will she look after the baby quails? or would I have tp seperate them?

posted on Fri, 02/05/2010 - 10:46pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

As long as a hen is broody, they can incubate any type of eggs - in fact, chicken hens have been used to hatch duck and goose eggs. Since the quail eggs are small, a bantam hen would seem the most appropriate. They will hatch earlier than chicken eggs (incubation period for Japanese quail is 18 days rather than the 21 days for chickens).

posted on Tue, 02/09/2010 - 8:17am
JonB's picture
JonB says:

I've been noticing some dark "things" in my eggs. Thanks to this website (and some of the provided links), I've learned that these are meat spots.

Are eggs with meat spots safe to eat?

>>>I'm originally from the US, but I'm currently living in Southeast Asia, and the food controls aren't as high as they are in the US.

If it matters, the eggs all have brown shells. Don't know if the chickens are kept with roosters or not.

posted on Sun, 02/28/2010 - 9:10pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Eggs with meat spots are typically not sold in the US for appearance reasons rather than health (they don't look overly appealing). You can take it out with the tip of the knife or cook as is (with a little extra protein). I would make sure you cook your eggs (hard yolks rather than soft) to prevent any chance of disease if the eggs are not produced in a 'clean' environment.

Layers that produce brown eggs tend to have a higher incidence of meat/blood spots. With the darker shell they are also harder to candle out.

posted on Mon, 03/01/2010 - 7:13am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

On the day of due hatching (friday) I had an egg that was moving quite consistently, however it never piped and stopped moving. I waited until Monday and opened it. The chick was fully formed but not in position (guess it was "breech" for lack of a better term). It also had what I believe was the yoke sac protruding from its abdomen. Did it die from not being able to get into position, was it deformed since it never absorbed the sac? I'm feeling really guilty that I didn't help the little one out but everywhere I read, it said to let it work it's way out. With all the movement, could I have saved it?

posted on Mon, 03/15/2010 - 3:23pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Although there has been some success in helping chicks out of eggs it is best only once it has pipped through the shell. The fact that your chick had not yet sealed the remainder of the yolk sac into its abdomen indicates that there was probably more going on than just being in the wrong position. Chicks that are in the wrong position can often pip but not break out of the shell.
So don't feel guilty - I doubt there was anything you could have done.

posted on Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:14am
Chickens in Weirsdale's picture
Chickens in Weirsdale says:

we have about 28 chickens, I have 3 hens that are laying eggs that have a pale yolk. the one's that are laying the pale yolk eggs are : a phoenix, aracuna and a blue cochins bantams. what can be causing this and what is the solution?

posted on Fri, 03/19/2010 - 9:52pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Yolk color is determined by diet - they have to have the yellow pigment in the diet. Some comes from yellow corn, if that is used to make the diets. If free ranging it comes from eating grass and other greens.

posted on Sat, 03/20/2010 - 10:06pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

you can hatch an egg if you put it under a lamp and heat it for up to 3 weeks. Hope this helps x

posted on Mon, 03/29/2010 - 6:11pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

While you can sometimes hatch an egg under a lamp the success rate is typically low since it is hard to regulate the temperature and humidity - both of which are very important for the successful hatch of a healthy chick.

posted on Wed, 03/31/2010 - 9:21am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

For those interested in information for small and backyard poultry flocks I recommend the University of Kentucky website at http://www.smallflocks.com

posted on Wed, 03/31/2010 - 9:27am
thunderstar21's picture

Hi. I need help. My mom got some white eggs from Albersons, and think they are growing! We left them on the counter for about 3 days. My Sistern'law Barbra showed me how to candle eggs, so I tryed it. There is darkspots in four of the eggs, and a shadow like thing that moves when I move the egg. I cracked open one of the eggs (I had five) and it had blood in it. Now I have them under a lamp. Email me back at [email protected]

posted on Wed, 04/07/2010 - 12:18am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Unless the eggs from Alberson are labeled as fertile, they will be infertile. There are no roosters in commerical egg production flocks so they eggs can not be fertilized and will not hatch.
The darkspots you have a probably blood spots (which should not have been sold since they are candled out) or the eggs are rotten. Check the packing date on the carton. If it is an old egg and the eggs were sold as fresh, take them back to Albersons and get your money back (or replacement eggs).

posted on Wed, 04/07/2010 - 12:14pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

how do you keep the required humidity???

posted on Sat, 04/10/2010 - 12:20pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Depends on the type of incubator. Most of the basic ones just have a pan at the bottom that you keep full of water. Placing a sponge in the pan helps increase the surface area if more humidity is required.

posted on Tue, 04/13/2010 - 6:23am
Pete's picture
Pete says:

Once a rooster is reintroduced into the hen yard how long does it take for the hen to begin laying fertilized eggs.

I want to begin incubating my own eggs but have had the roosters separated from the hens for several months.

Thanks,
Pete

posted on Sat, 04/10/2010 - 10:42pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Assuming the hens are laying, and taking into account that it takes 24-26 hours to create an egg from ovulation (release of yolk from the ovary) to oviposition (actually laying the egg), the eggs from the first few days shouldn't be used.
Assuming you have the correct number of males to females they should start laying fertilized eggs after a week or so. To increase the percent fertilzed, I would wait at least two weeks.

posted on Tue, 04/13/2010 - 6:25am
sissel's picture
sissel says:

This past winter, two of our three chickens were killed by a raccoon. The survivor, Rosie, continued to lay an egg a day up till the present day. In the beginning of December we bought 3 more leghorns to add to the flock. 2 of the 3 leghorns laid their first egg in March, and were laying about an egg each every other day. The third hen is a bit smaller and we aren’t positive if she was laying yet or not. However, none of the 2 (or 3) egg layers have laid an egg in the past two weeks. They just stopped. Rosie, however, is still laying a big healthy egg every day. Based on some limited research I’ve done, they aren’t broody, the days are not getting shorter (just the opposite), none of the hens are molting, there have been no obvious stress factors, the diet seems sufficient, etc. We can’t just can’t figure it out, since the original hen, Rosie, is laying just fine. Do you have any ideas?

posted on Mon, 04/19/2010 - 11:26am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

First -
Ther are a variety of possibilities - The first is to confirming that they are in fact no laying. You can check to see if a hen is laying, especially since they are Leghorns. See the factsheet at
http://www.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/Factsheets/Evaluating_egg_laying_hens.pdf

If they appear to be laying but you aren't getting any eggs (which happens more than you would think):
- Are they free ranging chickens? If so, could be hiding there eggs.
- Do the hens have yellow material on their beaks or feathers? If so, could be eating their eggs. -
- Any sign of predators (both 2 and 4 legged types) in the barn taking the eggs?

From your overview of the status of your birds, I assume you have read a factsheet such as the one at http://www.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/Factsheets/Why_have_my_hens_stopped_la...

You indicated that they are eating well - but what are they eating? Are you using scratch feeds, which typically has a negative impact on the nutrition of the hens?

Other points to consider:
- Where did the new hens come from? Since you got them in December and they are laying in March, I assume they arrived as chicks.
- How do the different hens get along?

posted on Tue, 04/20/2010 - 8:56am
sissel's picture
sissel says:

Jacquie, thank you! The chickens are grass-ranged, and we have been looking all over the yard to see where they could be hiding their eggs. For the past 3 days we have kept them in the coop to entice the leghorns to lay in the nest, and we haven’t found any eggs in the coop. I also haven’t seen any evidence of them eating their eggs (also, they aren’t eating Rosie’s egg). We got the chickens from a feed store at which time they were about 2-3 months old and they all get along fine. The 3 leghorns are still a little skittish, they just started eating from our hands just after we found their first eggs in March. The 3 of them stick together, but they followed Rosie around to learn the ropes..they also all sleep together on their roost. Just by looking at them I do feel like they are laying: bright red combs, pale beaks and feet. Also – we feed them 60% organic layer feed and 40% organic scratch, grass and bugs from the yard, and we put our leftovers (veggies, coffee grounds, crushed egg shells) in the coop for them to dig around in and help compost. Again, thanks so much for your feedback.

posted on Wed, 04/21/2010 - 1:09pm
haley's picture
haley says:

I'm looking into buying 3 little baby chicks, i havn't got a clue what i'm doing but can you please give me some advice on ''Do's and Dont's Please.

1. If you have a pen with a run is it better on slabs or grass.

2. Once they are a bit older and they lay an egg how long do they last & the date expires.

the more info the better thankyou. ;)

posted on Mon, 04/19/2010 - 5:09pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

'Advise' for beginners
- e-How has some general step by step instructions at http://www.ehow.com/how_5788_raise-baby-chicks.html
- Check out the information at http://www.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/Urban_poultry.html#General

Not sure about the 2nd question - how long do they last? Are you referring to the eggs? If so, as long as they are collected daily (and not too hot out) and then stored in the fridge at 45F or less, they will last as long as eggs purchased from the store. The expiration date on egg cartons is typically 30 days from the packing date, but eggs are still edible long after that - just don't look 'as pretty' when fried or trying to make deviled eggs.

posted on Tue, 04/20/2010 - 9:01am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

not sure if you can answer this question but i'm gonna give it a try. we have 3 hens, one is 3 1/2 years old and still gives one egg a day. lately when we boil some of the eggs, no matter how long, the whites do not become fully hard. also when we fry them them they tend to stick to the pan, no matter how much oil/butter we use. nothings changed, the pan/pot oil and butter are all the same. anyhow if anyone has an opinion i'd like to here it.

thank you
jodie

posted on Tue, 04/20/2010 - 4:34pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

What are they eating? Has it changed lately?

Do they go outside? If so, has the plants available to them changed lately?

posted on Wed, 04/21/2010 - 7:06am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

scratch, crack corn, crushed oyster shells and random veggie table scaps. this has been going on for about 2 1/2 months. they are outside and all is the same out there as well.

is there anything that can happen to an egg and or chicken that would make the eggs un-edible?

thanx again
jodie

posted on Wed, 04/21/2010 - 7:18am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Nutrition is most likely your problem. The fatty acid composition of the eggs has been changed because of their diet - you may have a higher proportion of saturated fatty acids to unsaturated.

The composition (by weight) of the most prevalent fatty acids in egg yolk is typically as follows:
- Unsaturated fatty acids: Oleic acid 47%; Linoleic acid 16 %; Palmitoleic acid 5%; Linolenic acid 2%
- Saturated fatty acids: Palmitic acid 23%; Stearic acid 4%; Myristic acid 1%

I recommend giving them a complete layer feed.

posted on Thu, 04/22/2010 - 1:26pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

With regards to the second question - Is there anything that can happen to an egg and/or chicken that would make the eggs inedible?

- If chickens eat the wrong materials (some plants, chemicals, etc.) they can deposit 'poisons' into the egg to make the inedible.
- Some feed ingredients (e.g., cottonseed meal) have compounds in them that result in a deterioration in the quality of the membrane surrounding the yolk making for a very unpleasant looking egg. They can also turn the egg albumen pink.

If the egg is not stored properly, or was highly contaminated with fecal material, I wouldn't recommend eating it.

posted on Thu, 04/22/2010 - 1:29pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Wow that is soooooooo cool!

posted on Wed, 04/21/2010 - 9:40am
sissel's picture
sissel says:

sorry - this was a repost mistake.

posted on Wed, 04/21/2010 - 10:55am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

thank you for your help i will work on the feed issue. i have a couple of other questions if you have the time-

how much poop is too much poop on an egg? and how long can they be in the nest, untouched and still be eatable?

posted on Sun, 04/25/2010 - 8:04pm
bella451001's picture

now that i have read the chiken n the egg so it says that the white hens that are bred usually for eggs lay unfertiliized eggs but i have found most of these white eggs that their yolk is pale yellow n that of other hens (golden eggs) is yellowish orange ......so is it somehow realted to fertilization?? many people says it s because that these hens are usually injected with chemicals to lay eggs before they are mature.......

thnxx

posted on Mon, 04/26/2010 - 2:08am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

The 'white hens that are bred usually for eggs' are white leghorn strains. It is not the genetics that makes them lay unfertiized eggs - commercial egg farms simply don't have any males around, and you need males in order to get fertilized eggs.

Yolk color is related to what they eat, and not whether or not the eggs are fertilized. The paler color typically comes from the commercial egg farms since the hens are fed a diet based on corn and soybeans (plus other ingredients to make it a balanced diet). The darker colored eggs probably came from free-range chickens which eat grass and get extra pigment from that grass.

Yolk color has nothing to do with fertilization - except that the free-range flocks sometimes have a male or two around (to keep the hens near the shelter and to sound the alarm when predators are near by). If there are males in the flock it is possible to get fertilized eggs - but they need about 1 rooster for every 5 hens (depending on the breed and housing situation).

No chickens are injected with chemicals to make them lay - and they only lay when they are sexually mature, which is around 18-20 days.

No chickens, egg laying or for meat, are injected with chemicals or hormones - aside from the fact that they are not needed, they are illegal. Years of genetic selection, improved knowledge of disease, and improved husbandry are the reason leghorns lay so many eggs and broiler chickens grow so fat.

posted on Mon, 04/26/2010 - 6:26am
bella451001's picture

thank you for your help. i really appreciate:)

posted on Mon, 04/26/2010 - 11:06am
Belal H's picture
Belal H says:

hi iv been incubating eggs for the first time and i have 3 eggs in a hatcher they have been in there for 3 days now they are not moving or cheeping or anything i believe they may have died but how can i be sure without breaking them open.

posted on Mon, 05/03/2010 - 9:09pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Candle the eggs - if they are clear the eggs are either infertile or the embryo died young. If there is a blood ring the embryoes died a little earlier. If you can see a big mass it is possible that you had a fully developed chick but it failed to get out of the egg. If there is a chick there you should be able to see it move while candling the egg.
Candling: In a dark room shine a bright light through the egg

posted on Tue, 05/04/2010 - 11:26am
Backyard Farmer's picture
Backyard Farmer says:

One of our chickens has started laying eggs that have bumpy shells. Should we be concerned about this? Is she unhealthy? She looks fine.

posted on Thu, 05/06/2010 - 7:33am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

You will get the occassional egg with small calcium deposits on the shells ( I assume that is what you are refering to). If you start getting a lot of them then you may have an infectious bronchitis infection.

posted on Thu, 05/06/2010 - 11:29am
Backyard Farmer's picture
Backyard Farmer says:

If we have infectious bronchitis, what do we do about it? How serious is this disease? It seems to be only one hen who almost always will lay bumpy eggs. Recently she laid 2 eggs that looked like they had sandpaper for shells. And yes, they are calcium deposits on the shells.

posted on Fri, 05/07/2010 - 6:23am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Infectious bronchitis is a respiratory disease caused by a virus and there isn't much you can do once you get it (like catching the cold). There are vaccines for it - but they come in doses of 1,000 or more so not practical for the small flock owner.
The infectious bronchitis should pass. The fact that only one hen is sick is a good sign.

posted on Fri, 05/07/2010 - 10:11am
Christina's picture
Christina says:

I had a Rooster in with my 5 Hens, I ended up giving the rooster away a week ago. I had to leave for 5 days and when I returned I had 2 Hens laying on eggs in the coop. I was wondering if there is a chance the eggs could be Fertile? Or is the sperm so longer alive in the hen? I do not want to eat the eggs,and I don't want them to stay sitting on the eggs if there is no chance they are fertile. So can someone please tell me if I should let them be or throw the eggs out..
Thank you!!

posted on Thu, 05/06/2010 - 6:04pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Hens CAN still produce fertile eggs for more than a couple of weeks after away from the rooster - though the percentage of fertile eggs will decline after a week. You can't tell if they are fertile without breaking them open.
If she has already been sitting on the eggs, candle them (shine a bright light through the egg while you are in a dark room) and see if there is any life inside. If not, and she has been sitting on the eggs for a few days I wouldn't bother eating them.

posted on Fri, 05/07/2010 - 10:14am
Jane's picture
Jane says:

hi, i have a broody hen and have taken egss off her after she has been sitting on them for a couple of days are they safe to eat

posted on Sun, 05/09/2010 - 8:21am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

If they were infertile (which would definitely be the case if no rooster around) so that there was no embryo development they should taste and look okay just will have 'aged' during the extra heat - meaning they are most likely Grade B eggs and not for sale.

If you have a rooster around I would suggest candling the eggs to make sure there is no embryo. If there is, it is still safe to eat, would just look gross to most people (including myself). There are actually cultures that do eat embryos - in the Philippiines, for example, balut is popular. Balut is a duck egg incubated to 18 days (of its 28 day incubation period), boiled and then eaten.

posted on Mon, 05/10/2010 - 5:35am
lara's picture
lara says:

I have 4 polish hens and all of them like to pick at the eggs after there layed. what can i do to make them stop busting them and eating the shells. ive tried giving them oyster shell but they dont eat it. and i have 3 hens 1 in a polish and the other is a yellow buff mix and both of them have spurs. the yellow hen they are very tiny but the polish hen are about a half inch long and are very pointy. the yellow hen lays eggs and sits on them the 3rd i dont no what it is but its spurs are about 2 inches long and very sharp. i dont think it lays eggs but it has sit and hatched a few. can anyone help me with this.

posted on Mon, 05/10/2010 - 11:47pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Egg eating is hard to stop - prevention is usually the key, but sounds like that is too late.

Egg eating becomes a habit and there are no guaranteed ways to stop it. Some suggestions:
- collect eggs more often
- leave something hard in the nest, like a golf ball, to discourage them

What do you feed them besides giving them supplemental oyster shell?

A chicken with 2 inch spurs sounds like a male rather than a female chicken. Look at the feathers - if the feathers around the neck (hackle feathers), around the tail and over the back (saddle feathers) are pointed than it is definitely a male.

There is a thing called sex reversal that can happen in female chickens. All chickens produce testosterone, even the females - the estrogen just usually counteracts its effects. If the ovaries of a female chicken become damaged and are not secreting enough estrogen the testosterone can take over. As a result you get a genetic (and anatomical) female but she will have male secondary characteristics such as spurs, large comb, male feathers, etc.

For more info on sex reversal - http://suwanneeriveryouthfair.org/pdf_poultry/p11.pdf

posted on Wed, 05/12/2010 - 6:05am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Jacquie: thanks so much for following this thread and answering so many questions. It's so helpful!

posted on Wed, 05/12/2010 - 8:49am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

First I'd like to say this is such an informative site, I have just sat here and read all of the comments to see if I could find the answer to 2 questions.

What is the best way to make a hen go "unbroody"? I have 2 that go to great lengths to take all the eggs and sit on them, we have both bantams and regular sized chickens so we decided to let her have the bantys to hatch but in just a few days they went from 18 to 31 mixed eggs, and since we really want the eggs for eating we took the 2 broody hens and the eggs and put them from the coop to the tractor, this really upset the hens, so we have released them and have the eggs in the incubator.

This leads me to the next question, since the eggs have all been incubating for different day lengths I dont know when they will hatch. At what point do I take them from the rocker and place them on the grate in the incubator? I had one hatch in the rocker, and several days ago when candling I found 3 that showed movement up into the air sack so I placed them on the grate, 2 hatched yesterday and the third is about halfway out. I still have 27 to go and they are all in good shape but in different stages, some are quite developed and some are just small dots but if you look carefully you can see their heart beating (thats too cool)! So do I keep candling them every day and set the well developed ones on the grate or just let them be and let them hatch in the rocker?

Oh and by the way, since I have a large assortment of breeds, the chicks that are hatching are all "hybrids" the 4 that have hatched so far are from a banty (BB Red or Black tailed Japanese) mom, but their dads could have been a banty (BB Red), RI Red, NH Red, Phoenix, or Barred Rock. I have also seen my Guineas breeding the female chickens, and have done some research on this and found that they can interbreed...so this batch of chicks is going to be quite interesting to see what they look like!

posted on Tue, 05/18/2010 - 8:00pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Q. What is the best way to make a hen go "unbroody"?
Broodiness is hormone related so not so easy to stop it. One method that I have found that works is to put them in a cage in the same room as the other hens, with their own feed and water. After a few days they usually stop trying to sit on eggs.
But remember - different breeds have different tendencies to broodiness and those with high tendencies are harder to break.

posted on Wed, 05/19/2010 - 12:51pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Q. This leads me to the next question, since the eggs have all been incubating for different day lengths I dont know when they will hatch.
Candling is the best way to follow embryo development. It is also a good way to see if there are actually embryos developing. I would divide the eggs into early and late embryo development and only candle as needed according to development stage.

posted on Wed, 05/19/2010 - 12:54pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

I have also seen my Guineas breeding the female chickens, and have done some research on this and found that they can interbreed

Inter species breeding is rare. I'm surprised they are even mating. Should be an interesting set of chicks.

posted on Wed, 05/19/2010 - 12:56pm
Pat's picture
Pat says:

I understand how chickens will lay an egg almost every day and that they are often unfertilized (those we eat). But with songbirds, after copulation, does the female lay only the number of eggs that are fertilized?

posted on Fri, 05/28/2010 - 6:29pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Chickens are bred to continue to lay beyond what is needed for reproduction. Wild birds lay only during the breeding season, and hopefully the eggs will all be fertile. She will typically sit on them whether they are fertile or not.
It is for this reason that controls for Canada geese include killing the embryo (by shaking the egg) and leaving it the nest. If the eggs are taken away, she will simply lay more eggs (for a little while anyway).

posted on Wed, 06/02/2010 - 5:53am
natasha's picture
natasha says:

hi i have accedently cracked open a fertile egg that was due to hatch in 5 days it is still moving a bit it is in like a sack and the yolk is a bit runny is there anything i can do to help improve its chances of survivng or do you think it is going to die?

thanks

posted on Sat, 05/29/2010 - 6:15pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

I guess this is a late reply - and it's fate has probably already be decided - but it is possible for it to hatch but not a guarantee. With only five days left it MIGHT survive, depending on how badly it was cracked (and where).

posted on Wed, 06/02/2010 - 5:55am
lara's picture
lara says:

all the hens that i have that have spurs. look like hens no combs no long feathers anywhere. they all lay good everyday. they dont try to piggy back the other hens. and with the egg busting i have some golf balls laying around so ill put 1 in the nest box. i give them cracked corn besides the oyster shell.

posted on Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:16am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

If they are only getting corn and oyster shell that is the source of your problem. They need a complete feed with sufficient protein, vitamins, minerals, fats, etc. Corn alone can't supply that - nor can they pick up enough by foraging. They are eating eggs to get the nutrition they need.

As an analogy - think of corn as french fries. You wouldn't be very healthy if all you ate each day was french fries.

posted on Wed, 06/16/2010 - 7:11am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

my chicken has been laying on eggs and only one hatched. she then went out with the one chick, what do i do with the rest of them? how about the chick and the mom because she layed the eggs outdside the coop

posted on Sat, 06/26/2010 - 4:39pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Any unhatched chicks should be thrown out. The hen will be able to take care of her chick, whether the chick was hatched in or outside of the coop. For the projection of the chick (from predators) you should probably put them back in the coop.

posted on Mon, 06/28/2010 - 8:00am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Any unhatched chicks should be thrown out. The hen will be able to take care of her chick, whether the chick was hatched in or outside of the coop. For the projection of the chick (from predators) you should probably put them back in the coop.

posted on Mon, 06/28/2010 - 8:00am
lara's picture
lara says:

what kind of feed would i need to give them. ive bought a laying mesh before but they didnt seem to like it.

posted on Tue, 07/06/2010 - 3:11pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

If they are laying hens, a layer mash is the correct feed to give them. If you have been giving them something else, always best to transition to the new feed (i.e., mix the new and old feed, increasing the proportion of new feed daily) and not change abruptly. It might be the change they are reacting to and not the feed.

posted on Wed, 07/07/2010 - 9:03am
Daniel's picture
Daniel says:

I have been keeping chickens for some time and have seen all sorts of strange eggs. But I gathered one recently that has me baffled.

Background: We have a rooster so fertilization is likely. Also, we gather eggs several times a day and check at night so there is NO possibility a hen was able to incubate this egg in the nest.

So... we gathered a basket of eggs and took them in to clean them. One was a little thin-shelled and broke. Inside was a nickel-sized mass that appeared to be a developing embryo.

How is this possible? Although I would swear it was an embryo, I am not an expert. What else could it be?

Thanks,
Daniel

posted on Wed, 07/07/2010 - 8:32am
Jesska's picture
Jesska says:

It's so funny, that my father's 'half-farmer' friend stated "All laid eggs are fertilized", when I knew it to be incorrect, I googled, came across this page, and it has proven that my knowledge and belief of refrigerated eggs was fact.
I am a vegetarian, and I wanted to be re-informed of the truth before the debate was started once again. Thank you so much. <3

posted on Thu, 07/08/2010 - 1:55am
Stacey's picture
Stacey says:

I am looking to turn over my herd of chickens. I have Road Island Reds and I really like the three year old roosters that I have. I am looking to get rid of my old hens and replace with new ones that I just hatched. What I need to know is how long roosters are fertile. I would like to keep the two guys I have for another two years and then replace the herd again with their fertile eggs. I just don't know If I should just do a restart of all my birds hens and rooster or if I can use my roosters for another two years and still get fertile eggs.

posted on Fri, 07/16/2010 - 11:01am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Roosters can remain fertile for 5-6 years so you might be able to get another 2 years out of your guys. Watch out for inbreeding though - if the eggs that are hatching for your new flock of Rhode Island Reds are fathered by the roosters you already have, you would be breeding fathers to daughters. That typically isn't a problem - you don't have to worry until another generation or two.

posted on Mon, 07/19/2010 - 8:15am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have 50 hens that I have hatched from incubators. I can't seem to get the hens to sit on their own eggs. I heard that hens hatched from incubators won't sit on eggs. Is this true

posted on Tue, 07/20/2010 - 11:55am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

How the chicks are hatched does not affect whether they will become broody or not. There are several factors involved - breed being one of the most important. Also age, health status, environment and others.
Going broody is a hormone-controlled physiological change in the hen you can't make a hen go broody if her body doesn't want to.

posted on Wed, 07/21/2010 - 6:18am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

you would think out of 50 Rhode Island Red hens at least one of them would want to sit, oh well Is there a particular breed of chickens that sits well?

posted on Wed, 07/21/2010 - 8:42am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Check out Henderson's Handy-Dandy chicken cart at http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html
It compares many breeds and one behavior they look at is tendency to broodiness. They list Rhode Island Reds as an 'infrequent brooder.'

posted on Thu, 07/22/2010 - 6:51am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hello,
My broody hen pecked the shell of 2 chicks one day before they were to hatch. One has 1/2 its shell with the exposed membrane and the other is severly cracked with alittle blood on it. They are breathing and chirping inside their shells but are not trying to break out. Why do you think she did it and I am at a loss of what to do for them. Please help !

posted on Sat, 07/24/2010 - 4:21pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Not sure why she would peck the shells of almost full term chicks. Since they are at 20 days of incubation they should be okay. You might need to help them out. Right before a chick hatches it absorbs the yolk sac and seals its belly. If this has not been done before the shell was broken in may not happen and there is nothing you can do. If it has been absorbed they should be fine.

posted on Tue, 07/27/2010 - 4:18am
Backyard Farmer's picture
Backyard Farmer says:

How long should I keep my hens if I want eggs? I have noticed huge decrease in the number of eggs we are getting this year compared to last year and wonder if it is time to get new chickens. Also, what do I do with the old girls?

posted on Sat, 07/31/2010 - 8:36am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Depending on nutrition and management many small flock owners keep hens for three years - but if they are eating more feed than they are producing eggs it is time to get new ones. As to what to do with the old hens - they can be butchered for meat consumption. If you don't want to kill your own chickens you can sell them to someone who will.

posted on Mon, 08/02/2010 - 8:23pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I am considering getting some chicken but i have so many questions.
1. Do chickens lay egges in winter (i live in michigan).
2. Do i have to bring them inside for the winter or can i leave them in an isulated chicken coup with no heater and do they need a constant temputare to live like will it get to hot in the summer or to cold in the summer.
3. Do most stores sell domestic chickens like family farms stores.

posted on Sun, 08/01/2010 - 9:50pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

1. Do chickens lay eggs in winter (i live in Michigan).

Yes, chickens can lay eggs in the winter - if fed and managed properly.

2. Do I have to bring them inside for the winter or can I leave them in an insulated chicken coup with no heater and do they need a constant temperature to live like will it get to hot in the summer or to cold in the summer.

Depending on the size of the coop and the number of chickens they can be kept in an insulated coop with no heater. For severe cold it may be necessary to put in a heat lamp (red preferred over white).
Chickens are quite flexible temperature-wise but it is important to make sure they have shade in the summer and access to clean, fresh water year round.

3. Do most stores sell domestic chickens like family farms stores.

Not all farm stores sell chicks, but many do.

posted on Mon, 08/02/2010 - 8:28pm
EggSell's picture
EggSell says:

When I was young, I was scared to eat eggs because I thought they might have a baby inside somewhere. Candling is always a good method to see if eggs are fertile, dead, or ready to eat!

posted on Mon, 08/09/2010 - 7:48pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

There are two reasons for candling eggs.
1. With shell eggs for human consumption. These eggs are candled to remove any blood or meat spots as well as any eggs that don't meet the Grade AA standard. Most commercial eggs come from farms with only female chickens - not a rooster to be found - so all the eggs are infertile. You can't candle these eggs to see if an egg is fertile or not.
2. With incubated eggs - These eggs are, hopefully, fertile. After incubating for a few days you can candle them and see if there is embryo development. If there is no embryo development the eggs are infertile and I would strongly recommend throwing them out rather than eating them. You can follow the progress of the embryo with careful candling (something the kids do in 'Embryo in the classroom' activities) and remove any embryos that die.

posted on Mon, 08/16/2010 - 7:58am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I live near Phoenix, AZ where summers are in the 110's. My 51/2 month old hens have just started laying. I put them on layer pellets 2 weeks ago and they free range in the yard by day. We are going out of town for a weekend and was wondering if the eggs that have sat in a warm nest box all weekend can still be eaten or should we just toss them all when we get back?

posted on Thu, 08/12/2010 - 10:59pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

It is ideal to collect eggs every day - especially in 110F weather. I would definitely not sell the eggs left over a weekend. Depending how hot it gets in the nest boxes two days shouldn't be too bad.
The general rule of thumb is that eggs will age more in one day at room temperature than they will in 1 week in the refrigerator. Fresh, uncooked eggs in the shell can be kept refrigeratored in their cartons for at least 4-6 weeks beyond the pack date.
So 2-3 days in the nest box is equivalent to the eggs having been stored in the refrigerated for 2-3 weeks. If the eggs are dirty, I would recommend throwing them out. If they are clean and you want to eat them it should be okay but I would recommend eating them before any eggs you already have in the refrigerator.

posted on Mon, 08/16/2010 - 8:55am
Tentrin's picture
Tentrin says:

For how long does the embryo who at its early developing stage survive if when the egg is cracked open? I'm guessing maybe for a snap? perhaps a few milliseconds? Is it biologically possible at all? An answer would be much appreciated. Thank you.

posted on Wed, 08/18/2010 - 5:15pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

They can actually survive quite a while after being broken up. In some Embryology in the Classroom activities they are broken into a bowl of water and you can see the heart beating for several minutes.
The early embryo does not need the shell to survive - just to supply calcium for bones (and other metabolic activities) but it typically doesn't make it past 14-15 days. In another Embryology in the Classroom activity I have seen a 3-4 day embryo is broken into a cheap-version of saran wrap suspended inside a glass container. The embryo is then incubated at the correct temperature. The students can than watch the early embryo development till 14-15 days.

posted on Thu, 08/19/2010 - 5:34am
MACIE's picture
MACIE says:

my chickens started laying for the first time ever yesterday and we have 15 pullets and 1 cock and 2 roosters and i was just wondering, should i start checking for chicks yet?

posted on Tue, 08/24/2010 - 8:28am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Just so we are on the same page - a cock and a rooster are the same thing. Do you mean cockerel - as in a young male chicken, with the roosters being older male chickens?

With 15 female and 3 male chickens you should start having fertile eggs, especially with the two older males. But you won't have chicks till the hens go broody and start sitting on the eggs (or you put the eggs in an incubator). It is unlikely that such young chickens (I assume that is what you mean by pullets) that have just started to lay would go broody and start incubating their eggs. So you should be collecting the eggs daily and using them yourself. Only when you see that a hen (older female chicken) is sitting in the nest box for prolonged periods (days) should you consider leaving eggs under her for her to hatch.

posted on Wed, 08/25/2010 - 5:53am
Shana's picture
Shana says:

As a non-hen-raiser, I always buy cage-free organically-raised eggs at the grocery store. This morning, I was reading this article about the recent egg recall. The article mentioned that cages might actually reduce the chance of diseases. Dr. Jacob, if you're still reading, could you please comment on caged vs. non-caged and what's healthiest/happiest for the chickens and us humans?

posted on Tue, 08/24/2010 - 9:46am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

The whole cage vs cage-free debate is a complicated one with strong emotions from those at the different extremes. There are reasons that chickens were moved from the outdoor production systems to cages - primarily to keep the chickens safe from predators and incumbent weather. It was the discovery of Vitamin D (the 'sunlight' vitamin) that made it possible to develop diets where chickens are kept indoors. Most of what we know about human nutrition came from research with chickens!
'Cage-free' simply means 'raised without cages' and does not describe a particular management system. The cage-free label is used for hens kept on indoors on the floor, hens kept in aviary systems which make use of the 3-dimensional space in a building) or outside (with or without fresh pasture).
'Organic' is the only legally defined term which requires the producers to keep their chickens according to USDA organic standards, and to be certified that they are doing so (with a once a year visit to the farm and review of the paperwork). Organic systems are cage-free, but not all cage-free systems are organic.
Back to your question - properly operated cage systems produce eggs that are safe to eat, economical, and highly nutritious. Properly run cage-free systems also produce eggs that are safe to eat and highly nutritious, they just cost a bit more.
Neither system is perfect - each has their own areas of concern - and in either system poor management can result in increased production of contaminated eggs. One of the farms involved in the recall has had management issues in the past and I was not surprised to find that they were the source of the infected eggs.
Cage-free eggs can also have problems - you just don't get the major news coverage because only a small percentage of the eggs produced in the US are from cage-free systems.
So - in summary - neither system is perfect but when operated properly produce safe, nutritious eggs.
The topic of 'happy' chickens is much more complicated.

posted on Wed, 08/25/2010 - 6:07am
Shana's picture
Shana says:

Thank you--I guess it just goes to show that it's never as easy as looking at the label!

posted on Wed, 08/25/2010 - 9:12am
Radhakanta's picture
Radhakanta says:

Dear,
Please let me know how many days i can store poultry eggs with refrigerator
and if cold room is available what will be the room temp.

posted on Sun, 10/03/2010 - 6:48am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Depends on what you want to store the eggs for
- For table eggs: Refrigerator should be at 45F and they can be stored for several weeks and still be safe to eat. The quality of the eggs will have decreased though, so that if you fry them or make deviled eggs they don't look as nice.
Storing outside of the fridge for 1 day is the equivalent of 1 week in the fridge, depending on room temperature of course.
- For hatching eggs: A storage temperature of 50-55F is best so a fridge should not be used (although you might get away with it for a day or two). Above 60F increases the incidence of embryo death.

posted on Mon, 10/04/2010 - 11:01am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

yes some of them are if you look sometimes it will say feritilized im not sure auctally on youtube people had done that so i think it is possible or they are just lying

posted on Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:17pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

yes trader joes eggs are fertile and you can hatch them you can get them at natural food grocery stores

posted on Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:39pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

can u show me how does the chicken take care its young?i have a project about it.....

posted on Wed, 01/26/2011 - 5:52am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

You need to be more specific in your questions - afterall, it is your project.

Short story: The hen sits on a group of fertile eggs for 21 days (incubation period) when the chicks hatch out. She keeps them warm and protects them by having them go under her. She walks around looking for food teaching them what to eat till they are old enough to fend for themselves.
Some key words you should look up - brooding, brood patch, clutch, incubation, precocial vs altrial

posted on Mon, 01/31/2011 - 6:18am
Gayle's picture
Gayle says:

can the sex of chicks be controled by the food the hen is fed before she starts to lay

posted on Tue, 02/01/2011 - 9:49pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Short answer - no. They have yet to find a way to control the gender of chicks. Genetically it is the female that determines the gender of the offspring (unlike mammals where it is the males who genetically determine the gender of the offspring) so manipulating the sperm has no effect. For my undergraduate research I looked at the time of the day when eggs are laid and the effects on chick gender - didn't find any differences. Others have done similar research looking at the effect of nutrition on the gender ratios and have failed to find any differences.

posted on Wed, 02/02/2011 - 3:11pm
TNT's picture
TNT says:

Question. If a pullet is with a cock for a period of time and then removed and placed with another cock both of them have bred the pullet, when the pullet started to lay while with the second rooster is she fertile with the first rooster or the second? When does the fertilization take place?

posted on Fri, 02/04/2011 - 1:01pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

The offspring from the hen can be from either rooster. Birds have sperm storage tubules that can retain sperm for several weeks. It is probable, however, that the sperm for subsequent matings with the second male will out number from the sperm from the first rooster - but there is always the possibility.
Fertilization takes place right after the yolk is ovulated from the ovary and is picked up by the infundibulum (i.e., the start of the oviduct where the egg is 'assembled'.

posted on Mon, 02/07/2011 - 6:29am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

hi im only young and when i normally shake the eggs in the store egg boxes when they get home i notice i can feel yolk in it but i shook this one and i felt nothing and the egg was quite heavy. Is it possible to have a chick inside and if so...how can i help it hatch,please help

posted on Fri, 02/04/2011 - 2:14pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

If you bought eggs from the store they should be infertile - unless specifically marked as fertile or nest run eggs.
You can shine a light from a flashlight through the egg (while the room is dark) and if there is a chick in their you should be able to see it. If there is an embryo developing it is unlikely to hatch, especially if it has been in the fridge at the store (and at your house) for more than a few days.

posted on Mon, 02/07/2011 - 6:31am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Thank you so much for this information! For a while now, I have been refraining from eating eggs because I am a vegetarian. I was under the impression that eggs were just un-hatched chickens, that were taken from their mother for human consumption. I was wrong apparently, and I'm glad I was wrong.

posted on Sun, 02/06/2011 - 4:31pm
Rick Smith's picture
Rick Smith says:

Thank's for the info on egg's, we sell egg's and we find the blood spot's in some of our egg's and was wondering why when i don't have a rooster in the hen house, now i can tell the folk's that buy them that it's alright to eat the egg's with red spot's in them, and that the red spot's indacate fresh laid egg's.

posted on Mon, 02/21/2011 - 5:34pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

The red spot is a blood spot and not indicative of the freshness of an egg. During ovulation there was a small tear in one of the blood vessels in the ovary and a bit of blood was free to contaminate the yolk.

For more information on blood spots, see the factsheet at http://www.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/Factsheets/Blood_spot_eggs.pdf

posted on Wed, 02/23/2011 - 8:41am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

my chickens are laying and i do not know which is laying the egg

posted on Tue, 02/22/2011 - 5:37pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Check out the publication on evaluating egg laying hens at http://www.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/Factsheets/Evaluating_egg_laying_hens.pdf

posted on Wed, 02/23/2011 - 8:43am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

We are incubating eggs in our classroom. We went past the 21 day mark when we saw movement in an egg. On day 24 one of the eggs began to wiggle. It moved all day but never pipped. Now there has been no more movement and we are on day 27 now. Also, another egg has noticeable movement within the egg and it appears to look like a heartbeat, maybe??? Should I continue to incubate? Is it likely that the eggs will ever hatch? What should I do?

posted on Sat, 03/19/2011 - 8:25am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Assuming that you have chicken eggs, the incubation period is 21 days. You are unlikely to have hatch at day 27.

posted on Mon, 03/21/2011 - 4:56pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I raise chickens , have Roosters in with the Hens and I eat all their eggs, doesn't taste any different, they definately taste better than store bought eggs much fresher, how ever if I have a special hen and Rooster that I purposely put together for mating for the purpose of hatching out , say purbred chicks , or just a really nice rooster and a gentle hen I just collect her eggs and put aside til I have however many I want to hatch out, some will hatch out and some wont, thats just the way it is. the ones that show no signs of developing get tossed out. The broody hen would do the same, My hens usually push the bad eggs out of her nesting box or at least push them far enough away that she doesn't incubate them. And I toss them out too.

posted on Sat, 04/02/2011 - 4:51am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I let a few of my broody/clucky hens, who are good mama's hatch a cluch every spring. I had one this spring that had been sitting for about 12 days and another hen kicked her out, laid an egg then must have left (around noon the other hen was there). The broody hen chose to moved to another hut and did not move back. When I went in to check them around 6pm the eggs had been unattended. How long or how cool can they get, before the embryo dies?

posted on Sun, 05/01/2011 - 5:49pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

It depends on the temperature outside. The colder it is the quicker the egg (and embryo) will cool. Chick embryos can handle a few hours of temperature change. Although the outside of an egg can appear to be cold the inside will retain some of the warmth for a few hours. If there is no hen sitting on them today (2 days after your posting) it is probably too late. You can candle them to see if there is anything still alive in them. While in a dark room, shine a light (such as a flashlight) through the top of the egg. At twelve days you should see an embryo and should be able to see it move occassionally.

posted on Tue, 05/03/2011 - 5:47am
Les Hanson's picture
Les Hanson says:

Is this a true statement:

If an egg is laid by an unmated female, it hatches a male.
If, however, an egg was fertilized by a male, it hatches a female?

posted on Thu, 05/05/2011 - 10:44pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

If an egg is laid my an unmated female it won't hatch since it is not fertile. It has to be fertilized by a male and then it can hatch male or female.

posted on Mon, 05/09/2011 - 7:57am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

No if an egg is laid by an unmated female the embryo will not develope (in other words it will not hatch) you must have a male or rooster to fertilize the egg.
The gender the chick will be does not depend on what fertilized it. On about day three of the egg being incubated, the embryo will develope what gender it is.

posted on Wed, 05/25/2011 - 5:56pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

The gender of an embryo, and eventually the chick, is determined genetically at fertilization. By three weeks of incubation you can see the embryo without a microscope, but you can't tell what gender it is without DNA testing. You just have to wait and see what hatches out.

posted on Fri, 05/27/2011 - 11:03am
Cecilia's picture
Cecilia says:

I went to gather eggs yesterday afternoon and found what looks to be a deformed chick that was layed without a shell! No sign of any shell at all! It was about the size of an egg and looked like it was starting to develop a wing and maybe a head. It almost looked like a fresh fryer you take home to cook from the grocery except tiny and deformed. How did this happen? And I wonder if there is a possibility that someone may want it for research or something? Do people or organizations buy oddities of this nature?

posted on Sun, 05/08/2011 - 8:52am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Chicks are not laid fully formed. They are laid as small embryos which then develop into chicks, typically in 21 days for chickens. I suspect there was a hidden nest somewhere and the chick hatched out but didn't survive. Most deformed chicks do not survive.

posted on Mon, 05/09/2011 - 7:59am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Chicks are not laid fully formed. They are laid as small embryos which then develop into chicks, typically in 21 days for chickens. I suspect there was a hidden nest somewhere and the chick hatched out but didn't survive. Most deformed chicks do not survive.

posted on Mon, 05/09/2011 - 7:59am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have a broody hen. 3 times over the last 2 weeks she has gotten off her eggs to get a drink and returned to the wrong nesting box...and sat on infertile eggs for several hours before we discovered it and moved her back to the fertilized ones. Do the fertilized eggs still have a chance to hatch?

posted on Mon, 05/09/2011 - 2:08am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

They have a chance - depends on how long she was off and the ambient temperature during that time. The percentage of eggs that hatch may be lower though.

posted on Mon, 05/09/2011 - 6:29pm
samsung's picture
samsung says:

av see a fella sexing an egg which has'nt been cracked or incubated , he had a five pence coin tied to the end of a short lenth ov string and he dangled it above a hen egg and he was telling me that if the coin swings slowly from side to side then the egg will produce a male bird but if it starts turning in a circular motion its female ! now it there any truth in this theory

posted on Mon, 05/09/2011 - 9:51am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

No, there is no truth. You can't even tell if the egg is fertile or not let alone the sex of any embryo that might be there. For each fertile egg he has a 50% chance of being right.

posted on Mon, 05/09/2011 - 12:31pm
mamalee's picture
mamalee says:

ow! Wish I'd found this wonderful site earlier! Great scoop. My question is this: if an egg HAS been fertilized, will there be SOME growth of a chick once the egg is incubated, turned, kept at proper humidity, etc?? I ordered a batch from a seller online, did everything by the book, and got two chicks out of 16 eggs; the other eggs, on day 28, I took outside and broke just to see.... they were all just yolk and white. Were they never fertilized? I'm wondering too, now that I think about it, if maybe they were just too old at the time of the mailing, maybe past that 7 day post-laying window?

I had another batch in with them from another seller; got three live healthy chicks out of five eggs...one dud, one dead chick. So, I think my procedures were pretty ok. I just don't want to give the seller of the 16 a lot of grief if he really did send me good eggs?! Thanks again for you help!!

posted on Tue, 05/10/2011 - 8:11am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

If the egg is fertile you should get some embryo development. It might be masked by the break down in the yolk during the heat of incubation. Typically if they die early you can see some small pools of blood. If they were not stored properly for an extended period of time that may have reduced hatchability but typically have a few with embryo development.

posted on Tue, 05/10/2011 - 1:20pm
Kathy's picture
Kathy says:

I had 3 eggs in my incubator and one hatched on the 21st day. It was the 22nd day, so I thought the other ones were rotten. I broke the shell of one and poked through the embryo with a knife - and found a baby chick. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I don't think I punctured the chick, but there was blood - I am guessing just from the embryo. I put it back in the incubator. Should I help it the rest of the way out or just wait. Have I killed it? I am so sick and sad. Please let me know what to do. Thank you.

posted on Sun, 05/22/2011 - 11:00pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Since it has been a few days, I'm sure you have your answer as to whether or not the chick will hatch. I hope you got lucky. Typically it is best to wait a couple of days before breaking open any unhatched eggs to see why they didn't hatch. It may not have hatched whether you had broken it open or not. Some chicks just aren't able to hatch out for a variety of different reasons.

posted on Fri, 05/27/2011 - 11:06am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

No store bought eggs are not firtle because the hens that produce the eggs are locked in small cages with about 5 hens in each. This is only to make sure no rooster can get to the hen and fertilize the egg. The farmers there feed them things like dried out corn and bad stuff for them so they will produce eggs faster-this can lead to the eggs tasting different. But if you go to stores that sell organic foods, they usually get their eggs from normal farmer, who raise free range chickens. Which is a chicken that is fed wholesome food.

posted on Wed, 05/25/2011 - 5:41pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

It is true that eggs from the store are infertile since there are no roosters are present. Roosters are not kept because they don't lay eggs, nor are they needed for the hens to lay eggs. All chickens kept for egg production, whether a large or small commercial operation, are given nutritious food and produce safe, nutritious eggs.

posted on Fri, 05/27/2011 - 10:56am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i have 6 eggs in my room and they r not in an incubator they are under a yellow lamp will this work if they are 100.9 F???

posted on Fri, 06/03/2011 - 8:21pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

If they maintain the right temperature and humidity, and are turned regularly (at least three times per day), you might get a few to hatch out. Try candling them at 7 days and see if there is anything developing, then you can decide whether to continue or not.

posted on Tue, 06/07/2011 - 5:38am
Mattelyn's picture
Mattelyn says:

I have a fertilized free range chicken egg that has been refrigerated for about one month. I was cleaning it under warm water, and, after placing the entire dozen eggs into a a pot of warm water, one of the eggs began chirping! All four of my children heard the chirping, and helped me to determine which egg it was. My son candled the egg, and it had a dark mass which ocupied the top 1/2 of the inside of the shell, as well as an apparent air pocket at one end. Any chance of hatching the egg? We put it under a heat lamp at 99 degrees Fahrenheit. No humidifier at this time. Also, no more chirping noises. :( Thank you for your help!

posted on Tue, 06/07/2011 - 11:25pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

I can only guess that somehow that egg got mixed up and was recently put in the refrigerator and when found they hen had already been sitting on it for 18+ days. Embryos do not develop unless provided heat, which a refrigerator, of course, does not provide.

posted on Mon, 06/13/2011 - 5:35am
suzie's picture
suzie says:

hi i have chickens and a rooster in the same pen! i think they are fertile but my dad doesnt think so! i want to try and see if they will hatch so how can i hatch them with no one noticeing! can the chicken just lay on the eggs?

posted on Sun, 06/12/2011 - 2:45pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

If the hen goes broody she will sit on the eggs and hatch them out. People might notice, though, if the eggs are being used by your family.
If there is a rooster in with the hens (and you have only 5-6 hens for each rooster) then you should be getting fertile eggs. You can tell if they are fertile or not by breaking them open and looking at the germinal disc. That is the white spot of the yolk. If it is a solid white it is infertile. If the spot looks more like a donut with a tiny clear spot in the middle, then it is fertile.

Check out the photos at http://www.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/_images/Fertile_vs_Infertile_egg.png

posted on Tue, 06/14/2011 - 11:28am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

If the hen goes broody she will sit on the eggs and hatch them out. People might notice, though, if the eggs are being used by your family.
If there is a rooster in with the hens (and you have only 5-6 hens for each rooster) then you should be getting fertile eggs. You can tell if they are fertile or not by breaking them open and looking at the germinal disc. That is the white spot of the yolk. If it is a solid white it is infertile. If the spot looks more like a donut with a tiny clear spot in the middle, then it is fertile.

Check out the photos at http://www.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/_images/Fertile_vs_Infertile_egg.png

posted on Tue, 06/14/2011 - 11:28am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

thanx for all the information guys. i have just bought a very big egg incubator (3500 egg capacity) and have just been told that fertile eggs are in shortage in my country. is there any special machine i need to buy to help me fertlize my chicken eggs? thanx for helping.

posted on Mon, 06/13/2011 - 2:12pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Eggs have to be fertilized before the chicken lays it. There is nothing you can do after an egg is laid to make it fertile.

posted on Tue, 06/14/2011 - 11:31am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Is an infertile egg still good to eat, if it sat under a sitting hen for four days?

posted on Thu, 06/16/2011 - 4:21pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

I personally wouldn't eat it.

posted on Sun, 06/19/2011 - 8:30am
BLAIR's picture
BLAIR says:

*********************PLEASE HELP*******************
my chicken is sitting on two chicken eggs and a duck egg (YES I KNOW THAT THE CHICKEN EGG TACKS 3 WEEKS AND TH DUCK TACKS 4)
but its been 4weeks now and the chicken eggs didn't hatch
will the ever hatch??
AND THE DUCK EGG HAS BEEN HATCHED BY THE DUCK FOR ABOUT 4-5MONTHS WILL IT STILL HATCH (OR IS IT GONE OFF)??????

please answer :((:

posted on Wed, 08/10/2011 - 3:35pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

If they haven't hatched by now they aren't going to. The incubation period for a chicken egg is 21 days and you are well passed that. The incubation period for most ducks is 28 days) 35 days for Muscovies). After 4-5 months I'd discard the egg - handling it with care in case it is rotten.

posted on Fri, 08/12/2011 - 5:22am
eatapc's picture
eatapc says:

My wife cracked open an "organic" egg from Whole Foods yesterday and a dead, almost fully-formed chick was inside. I cannot tell you how disgusting it was. The egg was larger than the others in the carton, and had a greyish color (the other eggs were brown). Doesn't it mean that the egg was fertilized and warm for a few weeks? How could that egg have gotten into an otherwise fine carton of supermarket eggs?

posted on Sun, 08/21/2011 - 7:15pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

If the eggs had been properly candled and graded there should NOT have been a chick inside. I can only assume the eggs are 'nest run' meaning that they have not be candled and graded for egg quality.
What I would guess happened was that the egg farmer is running their birds outside and came across a nest of eggs and collected them. The eggs were probably ones that a hen had been sitting on. The incubation period for chickens is 21 days.
I would complain to the store you got them from. There should not have been an incubated eggs sold as fresh.

posted on Tue, 08/23/2011 - 5:21am
Ben and Mars's picture
Ben and Mars says:

Eggcellent article. Thanks for the info :D

posted on Sat, 09/10/2011 - 8:10pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I got 7 fertilized eggs from a friend (I have hens but no rooster) they had been in the fridge for a day or two. I put them under one of my broody hens and had 5 baby chicks 21 days later. I guess that would be my research. There's nothing like on the job training for proof.

posted on Thu, 09/29/2011 - 2:47pm
Taiz's picture
Taiz says:

ok does anyone know what will happen if you have year old chicks and they have been the the heater thing for the 12 days and if just for taking them out of one day and there not in the heater then you put them in the heater will they still hatch?????

P.S
they are in the heater rite now.

posted on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 3:14pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Not sure of the question - Are you asking if eggs you have gotten from year old hens can be put in the incubator for 12 days, removed one day, and put back? If that is the quesiton it depends on how they were handled when not in the incubator. You may get some hatch but probably not all. I recommend you candle them to see if the embryos are still alive.

posted on Mon, 10/03/2011 - 2:00pm
cocolove's picture
cocolove says:

hello

so i have some year old chicks that are still in the egg and i was wondering if i have had it in the heater thing for 12 days and i take the eggs out for one day and put them in a bag and then the next day i put it back in the heater will they still hach ???

P.S
they are inthe heater thing rite now.

posted on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 3:28pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hi There.
I have a young bird which was in incubation for 24 days...

We rescued 2 eggs from an abandoned nest (someone had put a tire around it [much to my dismay] to stop horses from stepping on the nest as it was layed on the ground in our paddock, and the parents refused to come back.)

I don't have a proper incubator as I haven't hatched eggs in a very long time, but I kept my eggs under a heated blanket and they were very nice and warm. Unfortunately, I thought turning eggs was only needed if heat was not evenly distributed in the incubator, and mine was, so I didn't turn them. I also didn't realise they needed moisture in the incubator.

Last night, one of the eggs began to pip. I could hear it cheeping inside and knocking at the shell. It made a hole and then stopped for about 14 hours. I know they are only meant to rest for max of 8 hours, so i peeled some of the shell away in worry that it was stuck. It quickly stuck its beak out and began to breath, but it stopped peeping. After another 4 hours, it had made no progress in turning inside the egg and had given up trying to get out.

I peeled a little more and i could see part of its wing and there was no blood, and i left it for another 4 hours. When i came home, the baby had still not moved and just lay there breathing and occasionally struggling. By this time the membrane had become extremely dry. I hydrated it a lot but I think I was too late as the baby appeared to be completely stuck.

Eventually I peeled the whole shell away. there was a bit of blood but not much and as I was doing so the bird became lively and started trying to kick free and chirping.

Once I got most of the shell off, I noticed my huge mistake. The yolk was still attached to the bottom of the egg and the chicks belly. I left the rest of the shell on and it is all intact and put the chick back in the bator. he chirps frequently but is lying down and doesnt move much.

Can he still live? I feel absolutely awful :(

The other egg was a dud and had nothing in it.

Input would be appreciated asap

posted on Tue, 10/18/2011 - 1:32pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

It is unlikely that he will survive if the remaining yolk was not taken inside. It will also be very difficult to care for it if it does make it. You should also know that tit is illegal to keep wild birds - except for sparrows, pigeons and a third one I can't remember right now.

posted on Mon, 10/24/2011 - 8:33pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

last week i brought one hen and put it in the coop. but the point is that one of my two roosters which is younger then normal ones is trying to mate with the big hen which i have brought. so will breeding take place or not.

posted on Wed, 10/19/2011 - 7:17am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Age is not necessarily a factor - size is more of an issue. You may be able to watch them 'in the act' and see if mating occurs or not.

posted on Mon, 10/24/2011 - 8:35pm
Ros's picture
Ros says:

If a hen has sat on eggs for around 24hrs.are the eggs safe to eat or do they contain a growing chick?

posted on Sun, 12/11/2011 - 12:37pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

It depends on whether or not the eggs are fertile or not - if there is no rooster available there are no potential chicks. Unless hens are sharing the nest the first eggs laid are older and have not been in proper refrigeration so probably more of a risk food safety wise.

posted on Mon, 12/12/2011 - 12:54pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I'm trying to do my science homework about chickens and it says "use simple genetic diagrams to predict how the chickens will reproduce" what does that mean?

posted on Tue, 01/10/2012 - 6:16pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

I suggest asking the person who gave you the assignment. Just guessing, it may mean that you should look at what the reproductive tract of a female chicken looks like and use that to figure out how they reproduce - namely with eggs.

posted on Fri, 01/13/2012 - 3:48pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

How can you build a simple incubator for australorp chicks? does it matter what breed? will a rooster have sex with a chicken of another breed? or will a rooster only mate with a same breed?

posted on Tue, 01/31/2012 - 3:31pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

I think you mean brooder )(chicks) or poultry house (larger birds) rather than incubator. Incubator is for hatching the chicks. There are various plans available online at http://www.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/Housing.html
It doesn't matter what breed - you can even mix breeds if you don't plan to hatch eggs for purebred chicks.
Yes, a rooster will mate with a hen of pretty much any breed. Size difference may be the only determining factor.

posted on Wed, 02/01/2012 - 3:27pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Thank you. Your answer may have convinced my vegetarian girlfriend eating an egg is not the same as eating an animal,

posted on Fri, 02/03/2012 - 8:33pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I am a vegetarian who eats unfertilized eggs from a local market (free range birds). I'm retiring soon and want to keep chickens for the hobby and for some eggs, but do not have a need for a lot of eggs (just for my own use). Where can I get info for a hobby like this? I'm specifically looking for things like: how long do the chickens live, on average? what do they eat? are they prone to disease and need a lot of care other than feeding and keeping a clean environment? is there one breed better for a beginner like me than the rest? how many would be a good number to start with? ... and anything else that I might need to know but am too ignorant of the process to ask about.

I've already learned a lot from this blog, and think the info you have put out is terrific. Thanks!

posted on Thu, 02/09/2012 - 11:43am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Try www.smallflocks.com

posted on Thu, 02/16/2012 - 10:00am
magyn's picture
magyn says:

what is the white stuff in the egg?

posted on Mon, 02/27/2012 - 5:26pm
Pookiestir's picture
Pookiestir says:

hi I have one egg that has survived the incubation, it should be day 14 in the incubation, I see a dark spot that doesn't move, but I don't see any veins, is my light not bright enough or should I be worried, some people think the dark spot is the chickens heart.

posted on Tue, 03/06/2012 - 6:00pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

By day 14 you should be able to see the blood vessels and not just a dark spot (you didn't indicate the size of the spot).
You candle eggs with a flashlight (or candler) while in a dark room. Unless the egg is darkly pigmented you should be able candle the eggs with just a small flashlight.

posted on Thu, 03/08/2012 - 6:31am
crazEranch's picture
crazEranch says:

Hi there! So happy to have found this site. We've recently started incubating chicken eggs (bantham and rhode island). We "hard boiled" the first set of eggs (homemade incubator got way too hot) so we purchased one from a local hardware store. We kept it at 100*F, though once it climbed to about 103°F but we were able to get it down and keep it at 100° that same day. They were all turned at least every 6 hours day and night. Today was day 24 for 15 of the eggs so having none of them hatch we cracked them open. I wrote 'yes' on all but 2 because I saw veins when candled. And sure enough, all had roughly 7 day old embryos. My question is, why did they start to form and then die? Did that few hours at 103° kill them? Also, we were incubating because the hens had URI's and were on tetracycline so we couldn't eat the eggs. Did the hen's illness and/or medication effect the hatchibility of the eggs? Well, we are down to 23 eggs incubating. It's day 18 for 5 of them tomorrow. The eggs are completely dark when candling now and we watched 2 of them swimming around in there just a week ago. Here's to hoping we wake up to some chirping!

posted on Sun, 03/25/2012 - 8:21pm
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

Embryos are very sensitive to two particular periods in their incubation period, with one being early in development. Sounds like your incubator malfunction probably happened during this period resulting in the high embryo death.
I assume you know by now whether or not the chicks were going to hatch - since day 18 happened on March 25 - but it is not unusual to not be able to see anything but a black mass when candling 18+ day old embryos. There is a chick preparing to hatch - no turning during this period is best.

posted on Wed, 03/28/2012 - 5:59am
dawson farms's picture
dawson farms says:

What is the cause of the yolk inside the egg being broken when i crack it open to cook/eat? In these eggs the white as well as yolk seem slightly runnier than normal eggs & yolks.
Thanks!

posted on Thu, 05/03/2012 - 8:40am
Jacquie Jacob's picture
Jacquie Jacob says:

It could just be an old egg. If it happens several times you should consider a disease situation.

posted on Sat, 05/05/2012 - 12:09pm

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