How to Choose Fertilized Chicken Eggs

Learn how to determine the sex of a potential chick before your are committed to hatching your chickens.

| January/February 1974


The shape of a chicken egg can indicate the sex of a potential chick.


“Don't count your chickens before they're hatched,” the old saving goes. True, you can't be sure any given egg will produce a live chick, but you can make a pretty good guess at the hypothetical bird's sex before the smallest crack appears in its shell. When you're buying fertilized chicken eggs or choosing which eggs to hatch from your own flock, there's just one simple method to keep in mind. It's quick, easy, works for all breeds and is so reliable that we raised 23 pullets from 23 carefully chosen eggs!

Here's the secret: If you want your brood to be mostly female, select and incubate only the most nearly oval eggs. Those with a noticeably pointed end produce cockerels. Many of the chicks-to-be you examine, of course (especially the first time you try this idea), will fall into an indeterminate range, so pick only the most clearly oval shapes if you want to hatch future layers.

Commercial breeders cull and hatch their "female" eggs because pullets bring a higher price. Therefore, a fertile batch of "straight-run" eggs bought from a big dealer is likely to contain mostly indeterminate and pointed discards and give you considerably less than a 50/50 chance of hatching female chicks. To improve the odds, choose from your own hens' layings or ask a local chicken raiser to save his most obviously oval finds for you.

Sound hard to believe? The first time I heard of this trick, I thought someone was pulling my only-recently-rural leg. But try it — it works!

6/29/2016 11:04:08 AM

Why does this work?

2/18/2015 8:25:10 AM

Can the hen knows if the eggs is good to hatch? Thanks Franspilot

kulchaya pettersson
3/9/2013 7:31:33 PM

i interested about choose and incubate most oval eggs,i wish to get more percentage hens. Last time i get only 5 hens from 11 eggs. i so exciting next week my new 3 baby chickens will hatching.

moazb nor
8/26/2012 6:28:59 PM

i will try it

carrie taranova
4/15/2012 6:06:26 PM

Yes it makes a big difference if you have a rooster or not IF you care about your health. Fertile eggs have no 'bad' cholesterol. The fertilization makes the egg a healthier one for you to eat. IT turns the 'bad' cholesterol into the good. Fertile eggs are healthier to eat. As for the egg shape to set for hatching, yes the shape makes the differnce but it is also true that some hens have a set shape that they lay. Some chickens lay long eggs. They will produce the roosters almost every time - but not always - but on those eggs you cannot tell, so do not use them. Look at both ends of an egg and if BOTH ends are rounded, it will be a hen. A pointed end on either end will be a rooster. I've done it for over 50 years. Just do not use the eggs from hens that have a set shape as in long eggs. Those are very hard to tell on as that hen always lays that same shape. To get brown eggs from mixed breed chickens, they will ususally lay the color egg that they hateched out from. I have white layhorns that have Rhode Island Reds in their background, and they lay tan eggs even though they themelves are pure white..

pam baum
1/5/2012 2:33:46 PM

What does a rooster have to do with anything? It doesn't matter if the egg is fertile or not from what I'm told.

fred ogle
11/15/2011 5:27:59 PM

Wow, stop the presses, Liz is disappointed.

liz page
11/7/2011 1:59:23 AM

Really "Mother"? Have to confess i'm kinda dissappointed in you on this one. How then do you explain that I have eggs of both shapes (including several that are decidedly "pointy"), when there's been no rooster around for months? I was told each hen will lay an egg of a certain shape and color that will always be the same for that particular hen: speckeled, dark, light, oval, pointy --- i even have one that lays an egg that's flat on one side and wrinkly on the edge of the flat part, like an improperly blown up balloon. thus, a hen that lays a light colored oval eggs with speckles today will not lay a pointy dark plain eggs next week.

suzi fire
11/6/2011 8:01:13 PM

I am certainly willing to give this a try!

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