Egg Collection and Storage

Proper collection, handling & storage of eggs can help to maximise the hatchability of your eggs.  The quality of your chicks depends on how the eggs are handled between the time they are laid to when they are placed in the incubator.

A fertile egg contains living cells, where the embryo starts to develop even before incubation.  Once an egg is laid, the goal is to maintain the chances that it will hatch.  The chances of hatching cannot be improved at this time, but hatching chances can be harmed if not stored and handled correctly.

Nest boxes & Egg Collection

Nest boxes should be kept clean and free of droppings.  Very dirty eggs are not suitable for incubation, due to the risk of bacteria entering the egg or contaminating the incubator.  Eggs should be collected daily or more frequently if time allows.

Egg Selection

Any dirty or damaged eggs should be discarded.  A very slightly dirty egg can normally be used for hatching, without washing it.  Washing an egg is risky as it can remove the protective film that is on an egg shell.  If this film is removed bacteria can enter into the egg reducing the chances of it hatching at all.  Washing is best avoided unless using a suitable egg wash solution.

Egg shape quality is very important.  Misshapen eggs should not be used for hatching, as they will almost certainly either lead to it not hatching or a chick that will not survive.  The goal is to have the shape as close to perfect as possible.

How to store eggs the right way

  1. Find a suitable place for egg storage where they can safely store at room temperature (14°c to 18°c in the house rather than a shed.  Embryos in eggs stored below 5°c or above 26°c die
  2. Once eggs are collected place them in a clean plastic egg tray pointy end down.
  3. Each day rotate the egg, i.e.  Day 1 – Pointy end down the Day 2 – Pointy End Up.  Repeat this rotation for the duration of the egg storage prior to incubation.
  4. Set them in the incubator as soon as you have the amount of eggs required.

Key Points

  • An egg contains living cells, unless stored and handled carefully it will not hatch.
  • Eggs should be turned daily while they are stored.
  • Washing eggs can decrease the hatchability of an egg.
  • Hatch rate reduces as days pass, a 10 day old egg has less that 40% likelihood of hatching.