Selecting Superior Eggs to Get the Best Chicks
Raising chickens is an increasingly popular hobby as more people are looking for ways to get eggs and chicken meat that are healthy and hormone-free. When raising chickens from eggs, perhaps the most important factor to consider is choosing the best eggs for hatching. From choosing where to purchase the eggs to selecting the best eggs, there are many aspects to consider to ensure the best possible chickens are hatched.
Where to Get Fertile Chicken Eggs
Eggs found in a grocery store are generally not fertile. Therefore another source of fertile eggs must be found. The best options are either a chicken hatchery or a poultry farm. All of the eggs to be hatched should be taken from the same source to prevent the spread of diseases among the eggs and baby chickens.
The breeding chickens the eggs come from should be well-developed, mature, and healthy. They should be proven compatible with their mates, have a high production rate of fertile eggs, and should be disturbed as little as possible during the mating season. Breeders should also be fed a complete breeder diet.
Also Read: Daily Development of the Embryo inside the Chicken Egg (Day 1 – 21)
Storing Fertile Eggs
If the egg source does not have the number of eggs desired, chicken eggs can be stored for about seven days before incubation. They should be stored in a cool humid room. The ideal conditions for egg storage are a temperature of 55oF (or 13oC) and 75% humidity.
If the eggs are being stored for more than three days they must be rotated once a day. To ensure the eggs are rotated properly, mark one side of each egg with an X and one side with an O. Turn them daily so all of the eggs have the X facing up one day and the O facing up the next day.
Selecting the Best Eggs for Hatching
When selecting chicken eggs to use for hatching, it is important to consider the size and shape of the eggs. The average weight of a chicken egg is approximately 57 grams. Avoid extremely large eggs which often do not hatch, while overly small eggs produce small chickens. Also, excessively misshapen eggs have a low hatching percentage.
Also Read: How Chicken Eggs are Formed & Fertilised
The Best Chickens for Egg Production
Very thin or cracked shells are also something to be wary of when selecting hatchable eggs. A thin shell can mean the egg will have difficulty retaining the proper moisture needed when the egg is incubating. If the shell is cracked, there is an increased possibility that disease organisms will penetrate the shell and infect the embryo.
Only clean eggs should be selected; again, this could lead to infection of the embryo. Eggs should not be washed or wiped clean because this could remove the protective coating on the egg shells. Another reason to avoid washing the eggs is the fact that the rubbing and washing of the chicken eggs could force infectious organisms through the pores of the shells.
Additionally, do not select eggs with lime bulbs and rings, or eggs that are nonsymmetrical. Eggs with these conditions tend to produce unhealthy embryos.
The first step in hatching chicken eggs is to select the best possible eggs. Ensuring the eggs are from healthy, productive breeder chickens and are of optimal shape, size, and condition will lead to a better hatching rate and healthy chicks after they are incubated.