How To Tell If An Egg Is Fertile

Wondering if the eggs your chicken laid are fertile or not? Those who consume eggs or keep hens for their eggs frequently ask this question. The possibility of hatching chicks or ensuring that you are consuming fresh, high-quality eggs are just a couple of the reasons why knowing the answer can be crucial.

While a rooster has not fertilized infertile eggs, fertile eggs have. Although the differences between the two may not be apparent at first glance, they can impact the egg’s nutritional content and shelf life. Fertile eggs can last longer than infertile eggs and have more nutrients, such as protein, vitamin B12, and folic acid.

Without further ado, let’s begin this article’s detailed discussion of how to tell if an egg is fertile.

Observe the Rooster

Observing the flock’s rooster is the first step in evaluating whether an egg is fertile. This is so that the rooster, who fertilizes the eggs, can reproduce. The eggs are sterile by default if there isn’t a rooster in the flock. However, if a rooster is present, you can tell whether or not it is fertile based on specific physical traits and actions.

Presence of a Rooster in the Flock

Presence of a Rooster in the Flock

It’s crucial to confirm that there is a rooster in the flock before moving on to describing the physical traits of a fertile rooster. This is simple to figure out if you have a small farm or raise hens in your backyard. However, if you buy eggs from a shop, you might need help to tell whether they came from chickens in a mixed flock or artificially inseminated chickens.

Physical Characteristics of a Fertile Rooster

Physical qualities are important in determining a viable rooster. Bright, clear eyes, a healthy comb, and wattles free of discoloration or abnormalities are all signs of a healthy and fertile rooster. His feathers ought to be glossy and devoid of any sickness or starvation symptoms.

The capacity to mate successfully is a fertile rooster’s most crucial physical trait. For this reason, it’s crucial to ensure the rooster is at the proper age. A younger rooster could not have sufficiently matured to mate successfully, whereas an older rooster might have a reduced sperm count.

Read also: Chicken Opening Mouth and Stretching Neck

Signs of Mating Behavior

Observing a rooster’s mating behavior is another approach to determining whether or not he is fertile. Numerous behaviors that indicate a rooster’s readiness and capacity for mating can be seen in fertile individuals. These behaviors include crowing, flaunting their feathers, and clucking to seek the attention of hens. They frequently pick up and drop food—a practice known as “tidbit ting”—to entice the hens.

Check the Eggshell

Another way to tell if an egg is viable is to check the eggshell. There are various traits you may look for that may offer hints, even if the outside of the egg may not indicate whether it is fertile.

The appearance of the Eggshell

Check The Egg Shell

When inspecting the eggshell, one thing to look for is any breaks or cracks. Damaged eggs shouldn’t be used for hatching since bacteria can easily get inside through the gaps and harm the growing embryo. Additionally, eggs with cracked shells might be more prone to spoiling and could endanger food safety if eaten.

Read more: How To Clean Eggs For Incubation

Color and Texture of the Eggshell

Whether or not an egg is viable can also be inferred from the color and texture of the eggshell. Since white and brown eggs can be fertile or infertile, the color of the eggshell generally does not influence the egg’s fertility. However, a darker or more intense color can suggest that the egg was laid by a healthier hen, increasing the possibility of it being viable.

Another crucial aspect to consider is the eggshell’s texture. An egg with a rough or grainy texture can be older, whereas one with a smooth and shiny texture might be newer. While the eggshell’s texture alone does not predict fertility, it can impact the egg’s quality and shelf life.

Shape and Size of the Egg

Finally, information about an egg’s fertility can be gleaned from its size and shape. A healthy and fertile egg will normally be symmetrical and well-formed, though the shape can vary depending on the breed of chicken. An uneven or lopsided egg may be a sign that something went wrong with its development or that the hen had health problems.

Given that older hens tend to lay larger eggs and have more developed reproductive systems, larger eggs may have a higher chance of becoming viable. Size alone, however, is not a reliable predictor of fertility because smaller eggs might also be fertile.

Also Check: How To Turn Eggs In An Incubator By Hand

Observe the Egg Contents

Another approach to determining whether an egg is fertile is to look within it. This can be done by “candling” the egg or shining a light through the shell to illuminate the contents.

Candling the Egg

Holding an egg in front of a bright light source will allow you to see inside it. An infertile egg appears clear or has a tiny, underdeveloped area, whereas a fertile egg will have an embryo visible and developing inside.

Embryo Development

By candling the egg at various stages of incubation, you can watch the development of the embryo if it is visible inside the egg. The embryo will begin as a tiny dot and grow into a distinct shape over time, with the development of visible veins and organs. At any point, the embryo stops growing, which could mean the egg is not viable and won’t hatch.

Blood Spot or Meat Spot

Blood Spot In Egg

You may notice a small red spot or streak in the egg when candling it. This is referred to as a “blood spot” or “meat spot,” and it is not always a sign of fertility. These patches, which can appear on both viable and infertile eggs, are brought on by a blood artery burst during the egg development process. Although they can be eaten, some people might find them unpleasant and would rather remove them before cooking.

Read more: How to Turn Eggs in an Incubator by Hand


Can you determine the fertility of an egg by looking at the yolk?

No, the yolk itself is not able to tell whether or not an egg is fertile. However, you may learn a lot about a rooster’s fertility by looking at the eggshell, its contents, and its behavior.

Can all breeds of chicken lay fertile eggs?

Yes, all breeds of chicken are capable of laying fertile eggs. However, some breeds can be more susceptible to fertility problems than others, so it’s crucial to keep a careful eye on your flock and make sure they’re healthy and receiving proper care.

How long after a rooster and a hen mate before an egg becomes fertile?

Once an egg has mated with a rooster, it can become viable right away. To the stage where it may be seen by candling, the embryo may take up to 10 days to develop.

What should I do if I find a fertile egg in my chicken coop?

Eating or discarding the egg is okay if you do not intend to hatch it. Just do it the same way you would any other egg. If you decide to hatch the egg, it must be carefully incubated and given the right care and nutrition to do so successfully.

Can an egg be fertile even if not laid in a nesting box?

Yes, fertile eggs can still be laid outside of a nesting box. To avoid spoiling or contamination, gathering eggs periodically and storing them in a cold, dry environment is crucial.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, there are several ways to tell if an egg is fertile. The fertility of the rooster can be determined by observing its actions and physical traits, looking at the eggshell, and candling the egg’s contents.

Fertile eggs should always be handled carefully, whether you intend to eat or hatch them. For eggs to hatch successfully, frequent egg collection, good egg storage, and proper nourishment and care during incubation are all essential.

The eggs should be treated and stored like any other egg to avoid infection or deterioration, even if you don’t intend to hatch them. You can assure the health and well-being of your flock and the caliber of the eggs they lay by being aware of the fertility indicators and taking the appropriate precautions.

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