Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Few experiences in life compare to the wondrous event of witnessing a baby chicken labor with instinctive determination and emerge from an egg. Being a spectator of this miraculous event is the motivation that prompts many people to attempt incubating and hatching eggs. Regardless of the reasons behind your decision, knowing what to reasonably expect when purchasing shipped hatching eggs can make your experience more pleasurable and helps to ease potential disappointment.
When discussing shipped hatching eggs with an individual, I always remind them of the risk involved when purchasing eggs and the difference between an infertile egg and a nonviable egg.
Shipped hatching eggs may travel a great distance and experience excessive variations in climate, including temperature, humidity and pressure changes that may occur with fluctuations in altitude. These conditions, coupled with the possibility of simple human carelessness when handling the package, can decrease the likelihood of a successful hatch.
Because of these factors, a fertile and viable egg can be packed into a box, shipped to you and arrive in a nonviable state. When candling the eggs, nonviable eggs appear clear, just as infertile eggs do. When cracked open upon completion of incubation, you can see by close visual inspection that these nonviable eggs were fertile and became nonviable from exposure to extreme conditions.
So, why would a person accept the risk and purchase shipped hatching eggs when they understand that there is a possibility the eggs may not hatch? There are a variety of reasons:
- The minimum order requirement for baby chicks from hatcheries is 25 chicks (too many for some people to manage).
- A particular breed may only be available from an individual breeder who doesn’t ship live chicks.
- Ordering hatching egg, instead of live chicks, may be more affordable.
Incubating eggs that have been shipped through the mail can be and is successful for countless people just like you everyday. With simple preparation and correct incubation techniques, you can successfully hatch your own chicks.
To increase your chances for success, clean and turn on your incubator a couple of days prior to the arrival of your hatching eggs. Be certain that your incubator is maintaining proper, consistent temperature and humidity for the kind of eggs you are hatching and for your type of incubator. Still air units will require a slightly different temperature than forced air units (follow the manufacturer’s instructions).
When your eggs arrive, carefully unwrap the eggs and inspect them. Discard any broken or cracked eggs and notify your supplier of the damage. If the eggs are very dirty, a light and gentle rinsing under water will not harm them. Place the eggs to be incubated pointy end down into an egg carton or egg-hatching tray at room temperature for 24 hours prior to placing them in your preheated incubator. This “resting” period can greatly increase your chances of a successful hatch by allowing the air cell within the egg to settle back into proper position. This resting period is the same if you are using a broody hen as your incubator.
Acquiring hatching eggs has never been easier. The resources are vast and hatching eggs can be found everywhere from online auction sites to websites that specialize in the sale of hatching eggs.
Incubating your own hatching eggs can be very rewarding and enjoyable. Understanding and accepting the reality that even the most experienced person has unsuccessful hatches occasionally, will help avoid the disappointment that we each have felt at times from a failed attempt at hatching shipped eggs. The successful hatches far outweigh the latter. Proper technique and perseverance will reward you with an incubator full of peeping chicks.
Julie and Michael Gabbard own and run Gabbard Farms.