Did you know that in order for a chicken egg to develop into an embryo and eventually hatch out as a chick you need to subject a fertilised egg to environmental conditions that enable the egg to lose 15% of its mass over a period of 21 days in chickens?
It is an act easily performed by a hen ( on average hatching 90% of the viable eggs) but not so easily replicated using equipment (75% average success rate).
If you are using artificial incubation techniques or collecting up eggs for a broody to sit on then one of the keys to success is keeping and storing the right eggs in the right way prior to setting them in the incubator. Eggs should of course come from an active breeding pen consisting a cockerel and hens but they should also be
-Clean (but not washed);
-Have a good shell, smooth, with no cracks, roughness or pitting;
-Appropriately sized for the breed they come from;
-Preferably from a breeding group that has hatched successfully already;
-No more than 10 days old and stored correctly in the meantime; and
Prior to setting the eggs should be kept:
-In clean conditions away from other chickens or growing stock;
-Out of direct sunlight;
-At no higher than room temperature;
-Turned every twelve hours (A quick and easy method to turn a tray of hatching eggs is to keep the tray at an angle by placing a chock of wood at one end of the tray. When it is time to turn the tray simply move the chock to the other end of the tray so it tilts the eggs in the opposite direction.); and
– Still for 6 hours prior to setting to allow the egg to ‘settle’ (particularly if arriving via the post).
Being careful about how you keep your hatching eggs will markedly improve your chances of success.