From our previous post, What’s in an egg?, we’ve received numerous questions asking how you can tell if an egg is fertilized. There are a few simple ways you can tell, but it also depends on the reasons why you want to know.
If you crack open an egg for breakfast and see something strange, you may wonder if you accidentally opened a fertile chicken egg. If you see a small white dot at the tip of your egg yolk, or if you see red veins running through the yolk, you have just discovered a fertile chicken egg. An egg that may be fertile but has been refrigerated does not have the chance to develop into a baby chick. Once refrigerated the chick cannot develop in those conditions.
For those planning on hatching the eggs, cracking the egg open to see is not a good method. In these circumstances your best option is to try the candling method. You must wait a few days before trying this method, the small white dot we talked about in the above paragraph is not usually visible when trying the candling method and you must give that dot a chance to grow. During this time you want to ensure the egg is kept at the proper temperature by using an incubator, or suitable alternative. Try not to handle the eggs too much, only when necessary. Each time you handle the egg you risk altering the temperature of the egg, or worse (accidentally dropping the egg). After a few days your egg should be ready for the candling method.
You can purchase the candler, or you can use an improvised one. A flashlight in a dark room is a good alternative. Turn off the lights in the space and hold the eggs carefully up in the air. Press the flashlight very lightly against the opposite side of the egg, the side away from you. The egg with light up a soft red/orange color. If you see a dark form in the egg or a more solid mass, then you’ve just discovered a fertile egg! The dark mass you see if the development of the embryo and after a couple more weeks you’ll have yourself a baby chick!
If you have purchased fertilized eggs from a dealer you do not have to worry about the candling method. The handler/dealer will confirm all eggs are fertile before shipment. It’s important to note that not all eggs, even under the most careful watch, will hatch into baby chicks. When purchasing through a company your eggs are handled with care and immediately stored properly in order to ensure you hatch as many baby chicks as possible.