Tricks to tell if eggs are fertile or not... quail, chicken, duck

Discussion in 'Poultry, Domestic Livestock, Pets, & Bees' started by Mark, Jul 22, 2014.

  1. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    As @CoolBlueDude mentioned in his gamebird help post what are some good tricks or tips to tell if eggs are fertile for quail, chickens, ducks etc (I'm assuming what works for one species of egg should work for others)?

    Often when backyard breeders try to raise poultry getting or knowing if eggs are fertile is hit and miss so hopefully this thread can develop and help people better determine what eggs are worth incubating for better hatch rates.
     
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  2. CoolBlueDude

    CoolBlueDude The coolest blue dude you will ever know. Premium Member

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    Awesome Mark!

    Let me jump right into it then: Simply take the eggs you gathered and hold them to a directed light source. Eggs are somewhat translucent once a direct light hits them. You can see inside them enough to tell if your egg is fertile or not. If your egg is dark colored then it is not fertile, if you can see the yolk and it allows more light to pass through the egg then you have a fertile egg ready for your incubator!! I'll try to post a few pics here. The one with the most light is a good egg, the one that is darker is a bad egg (it could be a rare chance it is fertile but it is carrying bad bacteria and other nasty things that will contaminate your entire batch). Let me say that I'm sure some people will argue with me about this since your success rate will not be 100% even using this tip. I assure you that MANY other factors plays a part in the development stages of an egg and this is just one way to increase your yield from each batch you plan to hatch out/incubate. All this does is tells you which eggs have a chance at hatching and which ones positively will not. If you disagree with me on this then try it for yourself- Check your eggs and separate them (dark and light- and I don't mean the color of the shell) and try to hatch them. The ones that are dark will not hatch, and most if not all of the others will. It is as simple as that.

    Fertile Egg
    fertile egg.jpg

    Unfertilized Egg
    Unfertilized egg.jpeg

    Good on left bad on right!
    good and bad egg.jpg

    If you are only going to check a few dozen eggs or so then it is fine to just take a flashlight and use that as your source to check your eggs, but if you are working on a much larger scale- say hundreds or thousands even then you will likely appreciate this little tip. Use an egg tray. It will allow you to look at many more eggs at one time rather than one egg at a time. Here is an example of what I'm talking about, notice the darker eggs compared to the other ones. Its easy to tell which are good and which are bad. (However their light source isn't very well concentrated in the image below but you get the idea)

    egg tray.jpg

    This is an egg tray (not to be confused with "egg carton"):

    example of egg tray.jpg

    Simply make a box to place the tray on and that should be good. Here is the type of light I used:

    light for checking eggs.jpg

    That is it. The bad eggs can be used in your compost (I wouldn't eat them personally). Any questions feel free to ask!
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2014
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  3. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Wow, that's great advice and the tray idea is not only a time saver but I suppose it does give a direct comparison between a batch of eggs which must be handy when trying to isolate or find fertility/contamination issues.

    Does this light trick work immediately after laying?
     
  4. CoolBlueDude

    CoolBlueDude The coolest blue dude you will ever know. Premium Member

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    Yes it does. The eggs actually harden even more than when first laid. The eggs will be tender at first then as they "dry" they will harden (not all eggs are created equally, some are very hard and some have no outer shell at all). You can do this with soft, hard, and partially calcified (calcium deficient) eggs. It will work with virtually every type of egg. Not too sure about the thicker eggs but I think it should if the light source were concentrated enough and you were in a darker room. For all other eggs- you can do this in a lighted room if you like, but It probably wouldn't work so well outside in the mid day sun if you know what I mean.

    It does save lots of time when dealing with a bunch of eggs. We literally went through about 3,000 quail eggs alone twice a day so it took a lot of time even with the light box and egg tray's!!! When you have more hands on deck helping it makes things go faster. Kids love helping and once you teach them what to look for and how to handle eggs properly its something you can delegate (for those with kids).
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2014
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  5. Jenni

    Jenni Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Hi Mark

    Do you candle your quail eggs? Mine are at just 14 days so taking them off the turner and a little confused about candling them?

    What will happen if I don't. I hear they can explode.
     
  6. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Honestly, for just a few dozen quail eggs I don't usually bother candling the eggs because the the whole process of incubation to hatching is over in under 3 weeks and I've never had a quail egg explode.

    Eggs exploding due to going rancid can happen and I've seen a few pop in my compost heap when they have inadvertently been collected with the mulch and left to cook in the sun but exploding in an incubator would be unlucky IMO.

    It's a good idea to candle larger quantities of quail eggs and to candle large eggs (like ducks and chickens) because if several eggs are dead it can stink out your incubator and surroundings.

    I wouldn't worry about it. But if you ever need to, candling eggs is a pretty simple process like @CoolBlueDude shows above or just buy a candling torch for 5 bucks and pop an egg on top one at a time to see if an embryo or chick is forming. If you see no progress at about half way then discard the infertile ones.

    You can also fit a piece of pvc reducer to the end of any small torch creating a cradle to hold the egg whilst it is candled.

    diy candling torch for eggs.jpg
     
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  7. Ben Jamin

    Ben Jamin Active Member Premium Member

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    Awesome thread - I wish I'd seen it 2 weeks ago lol. Mine are set to hatch on Sat and I've not lifted the lid at all in this time. I'll do a quick candling when I take the egg turner in a couple of days I think. I hope there won't be any accidents.

    I'm eager to see if there's anything in the clear/unclear egg. I've noticed a red speck on the yolk when most of my eggs are cracked. I'm guessing this indicates fertilisation. I had one a few months ago that actually had a heart beat. Cracked egg in a bowl with a pulsating red dot on the yolk (capillaries visible off the dot at each pulse). Wife was put off eggs for a bit after that, but I was mesmerised.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2015
  8. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yes that's right the development starts on the yolk and it doesn't take long for a tiny chick to form.

    My wife once cracked an older egg that had missed collection for several days and she got an embryo about the size of a 5c coin - she carried on like a pork chop! :p I don't think she's over it still...

    One plus about losing our rooster the other day is there's no chance eggs will develop on their own when the weather warms up. I got into a habit of placing our collected eggs straight into the fridge through summer to ensure they wouldn't self incubate but I'd rather leave them on the bench cause we usually go through them quick enough and I like room temp eggs to cook with... especially when making poached.
     
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  9. Ben Jamin

    Ben Jamin Active Member Premium Member

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    Yeah - I don't refrigerate my eggs. I like the thought that they're still "alive" up until the time they're cooked. We might have to if we find a more developed egg like the one you had.

    Pulled the eggs out of the turner today. Not sure how the hatching rate will be from 30 eggs but I'm quietly hopeful.
     
  10. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I'm not sure if I mentioned it but if you place the eggs in the fridge for about 24 hours then store them on the bench they shouldn't develop.

    Good luck with your hatching!

    I had a clucky hen the other day sitting on about 15 eggs she collected so assuming they might still be fertile since my rooster only recently died I left the eggs with her. Unfortunately, she abandoned the nest and when I cracked a few it was clear development had started. It's a shame but that's how it goes.

    Anyway, I hope you have a rippa hatch rate :)
     
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  11. Ben Jamin

    Ben Jamin Active Member Premium Member

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    24 of 30 eggs hatched into adorable little chicks. I didn't expect to get such a high hatching rate (80%). There is still a bit of chirping from 1 egg in the incubator and it breaks my heart not to lend a helping hand.
    image.jpeg
     
  12. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I would help it out Ben if it's past the hatching by a day. Yes, they say to let chicks hatch out on their own but sometimes they get stuck and die. The times I don't help hatching is at the beginning of the process but after most have hatched out and you're only waiting for the late hatchers (if there is any) then IMHO it makes little difference and probably can only be helpful.

    What a great hatch rate 80% - wow that's a rippa mate! They look terrific don't they... :twothumbsup:

    Obviously, you did everything right and the incubator did it's job. Cool.
     
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  13. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Interesting, we humans are not the only ones who need intervention sometimes when it comes to childbirth. Ben, sounds like you need to perform an emergency Caesarean section on this chick.
     
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  14. Ben Jamin

    Ben Jamin Active Member Premium Member

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    I popped the egg open and let it sit in the incubator for 8hrs before putting it with the others. It survived the night in the brooder and apart from being less fluffy is not much different now. So 25 from 30 in the end. Better start organising a new coop and run.
     
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  15. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Top stuff Ben.

    25/30 is really good - speaking about chicken coops and runs I've still got to finish my new fence and run off before the goannas and snakes come back!
     
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  16. Katie Fitzhenry

    Katie Fitzhenry Member Premium Member

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    Really useful! Gave me a straight forward answer clearly and easily! Thank you!!
    Really
     
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  17. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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  18. YAN

    YAN Member Premium Member

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  19. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I've also edited this post above for a bit of fun and linked the infographic to eBay AU incubators - if Yan the spammer comes back and becomes a nuisance I'll ban him but for now I'll just leave it :)
     
  20. YAN

    YAN Member Premium Member

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    Hi Mark,

    Sorry have't reply you on time
    Am not spammer, We are the incubator manufacturer from China , We do export all kinds incubator to all over the world. We are here to provide support to people:)

    If you can save us here, that will much appreciated, won't post any list now.

    Thank you & Best regards

    YAN
     
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