Monday, January 7, 2013

How to Tell if Your Chicken Eggs are Fertile



Got hens a-laying? Got a rooster a-crowing? Want to know if your rooster is “doing his job” and making the eggs your hens are laying, fertile?

It’s really quite simple once you know what you are looking for… and if you are middle-age or beyond… if you have some good reading glasses!

Egg #1

(Photo courtesy Aoxa / Justine L.)

Egg #2


Can you see the difference?
Egg #1

 Egg #2
 
(Click for larger images)

As you can see, egg #1 has what appears to be a bulls eye while egg #2 has more of a period.

If the egg has a bulls-eye, your rooster is hitting his mark and your egg is fertile. If the egg has a period... it is not fertile.

* Hens can lay fertile eggs about 2 days after first mating with a rooster and for up to 3 weeks after being exposed to a rooster. If you want to hatch pure bred eggs from a certain pairing, be sure your hen hasn't been bred to any other rooster over the 3 weeks prior to collecting eggs. While eggs may be fertile only 2 days after first breeding with a rooster, it can take longer to start getting fertile eggs from the pair.

*


25 comments:

  1. Somehow we have to get the email notifications working on this blog! :)

    LM

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  2. Agree with Sue.

    I didn't get this notification. Bummer!

    Love it. :D

    -aoxa

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  3. Funny but...when I looked at this again, it made me think of the EPT tests for pregnancy...with the little bullseye... :)

    LM

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  4. I have 20 Girls & only 1 boy. From what I have read he won't be able to cover all. I thought if I get a few Broody Hens couldn't I put him in with them. Or is it to late once she wants to set on eggs? Really didn't intend on getting him but they just threw him in for free. And 2 Cocks would fight. Any suggestions. Tks Trudi Jo

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    1. Once a hen wants to sit on eggs, she won't accept a roosters advances and won't breed with him. Chances are he is able to breed with most of your hens - even if he breeds with a hen every week or so, her eggs can be fertile for up to 3 weeks after breeding with him.

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    2. actually with that many hens you could have up to about 4 roosters and they would never fight. i have many roosters and about 2 to 4 hens per rooster they each cliam a few and are good.. i also have a whole flock that is nothing but batcholors and they never fight either.
      but generally if you do it to where each roo has 5 to 10 hens each everyone is 'covered' and theres no fighting...my hens fight more than the roos do.

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  5. Thank you for this post. I like your "bullseye means the rooster is hitting his mark" as an easy way to remember which means fertile.

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  6. Question for a pro Bulldogma. My 13 week old Barred Cock cockerel has turned into a little man this week. His comb and wattles are the reddest I have ever seen red be and he runs around the chicken run chasing the girls (all his age) but they just keep running. I do have one laying hen that obviously has some experience because when he runs up to her she squats down. He has mounted her several times the last few day and he seems to be doing things right...he is balancing well and his tail end in tucking in and down. After he gets off of her she gets up and totally fluffs her whole body, then she turns to check her rear end. Does that sound like he is getting the job done right? And is he old enough to be doing this stuff? I guess I can check her eggs this week to look for the bullseye, I just wondered if checking was necessary because I didn't think he would be progressing this far until he was at least a few weeks older. What do you think?

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    1. I won't call myself a pro... just a researchaholic - LOL!
      Well bless your little cockerel's heart! 13 weeks is very young. Normally they aren't sexually mature until at least 18 weeks - and this can be breed dependent. Is there a chance he's a tad older than 13 weeks?
      I wouldn't *expect* any fertile eggs until he's a little older. With my own breeders, I just continue to eat the eggs until I start getting fertile ones. Then I start saving them. :)
      Leigh (Bulldogma)

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    2. I got him and his hatch mates when they were 3 weeks old. She documented their hatch dates and showed the books to me. They also looked just like a 3 week old chick should look. My hen is the only layer and with only younger chicks I have never bothered to check them before eating them, but now I guess I should.

      BTW, I am a researchaholic and experimenter too. I love looking for answers. I start with answers from those with the most credibility in that area (like you), then I gather additional information from other mostly reliable sources, then I test my theories.

      Thanks for the quick reply. I will let you know what I find in her eggs next week.

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    3. I look forward to hearing what you find! I have some chicks that are around his age too... and completely clueless about what the older ones are up to. (LOL) There are exceptions to every rule - so keep track for us and let us all know when those eggs start to be fertile. Inquiring minds want to know!

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    4. Well guess what...I cracked open her 4 most recent eggs this morning (2 of which were double yokers) and they all had the BULLSEYE! I took pictures with my cell phone but they are not as clear as real-life. Next time I will get my good camera out and take pics. So I guess a 13 week old cockerel can be fertile already.

      Now the next question...my hen drops a double yoker about 50% of the time, and small eggs when their is only one yoke inside. If I put her eggs in an incubator, would there be enough room in the small eggs, or with the double yokers for the chicks to grow and hatch normally? Have you hatched out twins before?

      I am just curious about this because I happen to be incubating some eggs right now...my first incubation hatch in 30 years.

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    5. Wow! I'll make note of that as it's one of the youngest "successful" cockerels I've heard of.

      As for the double-yolkers... The short answer is, yes - they can be hatched. The long answer is that to my knowledge, hatch rates are not good with these eggs. Normally a chick pips up at the fat end of the egg, but with twins only one can be in the fat end. Even if they both develop and they both pip, they have to be able to rotate within the egg to zip... this is hard to do properly when there are two chicks in one shell. This can slow the hatching process and cause the membranes to dry out and "shrink-wrap" the chicks.

      On the flip side, I have seen a video on YouTube of someone assisting twins out of an egg, and both survived.

      That's all I can really offer. I have never tried to hatch a double-yolker myself, so I do not have first-hand experience. I'll be interested to hear the outcome if you decide to try. In fact, if you keep a log, photos and have a successful hatch, I'd love to share the experience on NCK.
      Leigh

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    6. I have to do some research about twins before I try it, I don't want to cause suffering to the chicks if there isn't much of a chance of their survival. I did put one of the small (single yoke) eggs in the incubator on the 18th (since I already have it running right now) figuring that I would candle it in about a week and see if anything is happening inside.

      I contacted the person I got my chicks from to verify their hatch date and it was correct, they were 3 weeks and 5 days old when I picked them up, making them all 13 weeks old last Tuesday. She keeps very accurate hatch records of all of her chicks.

      I will definitely be documenting this and will share my results with you.

      Holly

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    7. I look forward to hearing what happens. :-)
      Leigh

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    8. Hi Leigh,

      Just wanted to update you about the fertile egg that I placed in the incubator. I candled the egg on day 3 and saw veins and an air pocket. Just candled it again on day 6 and there is a growing air pocket and a tiny little embryo moving around in there. Guess that is proof positive that he was fertile, LOL.

      Anyway, I am going to share this with my readers in a post going live tomorrow at 3PM AZ time. Here is the link: http://backyardchickenlady.blogspot.com/2013/07/my-13-week-old-barred-rock-cockerel-is.html

      I guess my little Barry gets at the top of your "Youngest Successful Cockerels" list. He turned 14 weeks old the day before yesterday and already has a baby on the way!

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    9. LOL! Well color me impressed! That's some cockerel you have! I look forward to reading your post!
      Leigh

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  7. Useless method, as it requires killing the chicks to check. Retarded. The writer is stupid.
    There's actually at least one real method, which means no killing of the chick. Which is to use a light.
    I was looking for other ways to tell that don't murder the animal.

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    1. Thank you, hater, but it seems you didn't exactly follow the gist of this article.

      DEVELOPING is different than FERTILE. If an egg is developing (a chick is growing inside of it), you can tell by candling the egg in a dark room with a small, very bright flashlight. When the egg is about a week into incubation, you will be able to see veins and sometimes a small, moving blob.

      This post is about telling if your eggs are FERTILE.

      FERTILE means that the egg is capable of developing, but is not yet developing. It must be incubated in order for it to develop. Incubation can take place under a broody hen, or in an incubator.

      THIS article is about how to know if your hen is laying eggs that have been FERTILIZED... as in: after a period of time in which the hen and rooster are together and mating has taken place, a person can check an egg or two to see if they are FERTILE. If so, one can work under the assumption that the eggs laid in the following days will also be fertile, and can be incubated.

      Unless you have a camera that fits on the head of a very small needle, you will NOT be able to tell if an egg is fertile from the outside.

      I apologize if the vocabulary in my post was too far beyond your grasp. And if you DO come to my blog again, and IF you use the "R" word in any comment on this blog again, you will be banned from making comments ever again! First, R******d is NOT the same thing as "Stupid." Second, like n****r, it is a word that hurts a group of people that do not have control over the color or in this case condition in which they were born.

      Third, we all get that you have the freedom of speech... what you seem to lack is a proper vocabulary, tact and an ability to use it for anything constructive.

      Now... go stand in the corner!

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    2. Love it Leigh, you have such a way with words!

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    3. What a brilliant reply: informative and castigating at the same time :) love it!

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  8. Brilliant article! But not sure if Nigger and retarded can be used in the same context being brown is not a disability or disadvantage,however I love your pics!

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  9. Many might be knowing about checking a egg by droping it in water to check wheather its safe to it that one but can the same procedure applied before keeping it under broody hens?? Cmon guyz help me out..

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    1. I mean hand touch or putting a egg in water will affect its temp.and such egg is preferable to be kept under broody hen?

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    2. The float test is only an indicator of how old the egg is. It won't tell you if the egg has started to develop or not. Ann egg generally won't start to develop until it has been under a broody hen for about 24 hours... so if another hen lays an egg in the nest and a broody starts to incubate it, it should be OK to eat if you take it out of the nest within the first 24 hours.

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