Saturday, March 1, 2014

{Guest Post} 7 Myths and Truths about Handling Hatching Eggs

Our first guest post is brought to you by Lisa Murano at www.MuranoChickenFarm.com


7 Myths and Truths about Handling Hatching Eggs


I always have a full incubator. Or 3! I know a lot of you are like me. After all, hatching chicks is addictive isn't it? There are lots of do's and don'ts of hatching eggs. The funny thing is that what one person swears never works, another person swears it's the reason their hatches are so successful! Over the years I've tried just about every method possible to increase my hatch rate. I've put these myths to the test many times over. 5 years and thousands of chicks later.....here are my results:

Myth 1) Absolutely do not wash an egg before incubating. 

ReasonIt washes away the 'bloom' and allows bacteria to enter the egg. Just brush off any dirt or don'tset the egg if it's too dirty.
Common rebuttal: All the big hatcheries wash and sanitize their eggs first.
Personal opinion: I have done it both ways and have tried to see a difference but I can't 

Answer: well, yes and yes. First, you really don't want bacteria in your incubator. It could ruin your whole hatch. Second, yes the big hatcheries clean their eggs first...however we don't know their hatch rates...so we can't really use that as an argument.
    
Myth 2) Do not use odd shaped eggs, or eggs that are abnormally small or large

Reason: larger eggs are often double yolk eggs which very rarely hatch. (and always need assistance)often small eggs are pullet eggs which shouldn't be hatched. Odd shaped eggs won't allow the chick proper room to grow and it will die in the egg or be malformed.
Common rebuttal: pullet eggs are perfectly fine to hatch, big eggs just hatch big chicks and it all depends on the odd shape.
Personal experience: Lots of big chicks and no pullet eggs, however....I never incubate double yolkers.

Answer: hatching pullet eggs is up to you! There are lots of us that refuse to hatch pullet eggs because of multiple bad experiences. There are others that swear they always hatch just fine. I know the itch to hatch those first eggs is unbearable! Technically they should be fine....but since people seem to have varied experiences with this, it's a personal choice. Large eggs do hatch larger chicks, just candle first to make sure you don't have a double yolker. It may be cute to have 'twins' but do you really want to watch one die as it hatches? As far as odd shaped eggs go....how odd shaped is it? Can a chick fit in it? If it's just a little bit long or round that's one thing, if it's shaped like a snake.... 

Myth 3) Eggs must be stored small side down before incubation.

Reason: This allows the egg to settle and the air cell to 'set' in place
Common rebuttal: This doesn't matter unless the eggs were shipped or jostled in some way. Mama chicken doesn't sit her eggs on end before going broody. 
Personal experience: I try, really I do! Sometimes I end up with eggs in a basket before hatch though and they are laying all kinds of ways. I haven't noticed a difference in hatch rate. However I always allow shipped eggs to set upright to settle before hatch.

Answer: Yes, the egg has an air cell which needs to be fixed at the top for incubation. Allowing it to set with the wide end up allows this to happen

Myth 4) Rotate eggs 3 times a day during storage 

Reason: It keeps the yolk from sticking to the side of the shell.
Common rebuttalIt won't stick once it starts developing and is being turned regularly.  
Personal experience: I hardly ever do this. I forget all the time and I haven't noticed a difference.   

Answer: ummmm...all the research says to do it. Seriously, that's all I got on this one! 

Myth 5) Do not refrigerate eggs before incubation. Store at a humid 55-65 degrees.

Reason: Humidity keeps the egg from loosing moisture. (eggs are porousTemperature below 65 keeps the egg from starting to develop too soon. Temperatures too low destroys the eggs ability to develop.
Common rebuttal: Fertile eggs from grocery stores and farmers markets hatch all the time. Cooptemperatures are not kept this stringent and a broody takes days to collect a clutch before incubating.
Personal experience: Refrigeration seems to lower the hatch rate on average. Deviation from 50-70 have been fine. Eggs have been left in the snow covered coop for 2 days then have hatched. I don't recommend it, but I have pulled eggs out of the refrigerator and stuck them in the bator from time to time. 

Answer: This is a game of odds. Your best odds are when the proper temperature and humidity are kept, however they can still hatch if you deviate slightly from these. 


Myth 6) Let eggs warm up to room temperature before incubation.

Reason: If the eggs are cold condensation can cause bacteria to grow on the eggs. Bacteria in your incubator can ruin the whole hatch.
Common rebuttal: This one always seems to be "I tried it and it was fine" 
Personal experience: I do this when it's too cold outside however....my storage is in my laundry room which is usually  60-65 and I never move them to a warmer room to warm up before incubation. I haven't noticed a difference.

Answer: This one is true. However, if you stored your eggs at 55-65 you shouldn't have far to go to get to room temperature (70)  

  
Myth 7) Don't incubate eggs older then 10 days. The hatch rate decreases after that. 

Reason: The egg begins to breakdown as it gets older and there is less of a chance it will develop and hatch.
Common rebuttal: A mama hen often collects a dozen or more eggs before setting. At one egg a day, that is past the 10 day mark.
Personal experience: If you're tight on incubator space, skip the older eggs...unless you really want that particular egg to hatch. Then what the heck, give it a try.

Answer: This one is true....but remember we're saying the hatch rate decreases...so some will still hatch, but the older the egg gets the less chance there it that it will hatch.
  
So, to sum it up....all of these points can contribute to your hatch. We all want 100% hatch rate and sticking to these points can help you get that. However, slight deviations may not impact your hatch too much. 

Happy hatching!

~La Murano
Murano Hatchery

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