How to Tell if an Egg is Fertile

At the end of June, we had friends who needed to find a home for their chicken.  They bought it as a chick; presumed to be female and ended up with a cockerel on their hands instead.  I encouraged them to butcher and eat the chicken, use it as a lesson in life cycles, etc. for their kids, but their daughters ended up loving him as a pet and they couldn’t do it.  So I said they could bring him here.

He was a cool chicken.  Very tall with long legs.  If we had planned to keep him, and I was the chicken naming type, I would have rechristened him to be “Edward I” (aka Longshanks).  And he was a rooster through and through.  In the short two weeks we kept him he roughed up all our hens.  Two went broody.  We briefly thought about letting one hatch some chicks.   But instead we decided that ole Longshanks had a dinner date to keep.  On July 7th, he met the same fate as Anne Boleyn, and was quite tasty after all.

I had read somewhere that hens can continue to lay fertilized eggs for up to two weeks after having been with a rooster.  We figured that most, if not all of our (11) girls mated with him.  I had a moment of hesitation over eating fertilized eggs, but then quickly realized that the alternatives weren’t real options. Let them hatch and then what?  We had too many chickens already.  Waste them?  Definitely not.

So for a couple of weeks, we collected eggs diligently (chicks only develop if the eggs are incubated) and I just scrambled breakfast without looking too closely.  The broodiness resolved itself within a few days.  The hens calmed down after King Ed was gone.  Peace in the chicken yard ensued once again after the strict matriarchy and celibate ways were restored.

Imagine my surprise when I cracked open some eggs for breakfast on Friday (August tenth). And found this:

See those white spots that look sort of like bulls-eyes?  That is a sure sign that the egg was fertilized.  ALL of them.  Fertile.  I gathered these eggs on Friday.  Over a month after Longshanks was dispatched.

Here’s another view:

I am completely certain that all of our other chickens are hens (or pullets).  They are all laying.  They are all still laying fertile eggs.  I am amazed at the virility of chickens.  Way to go Eddy.

And yes, we still are eating the eggs.

Categories: Chickens, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “How to Tell if an Egg is Fertile

  1. Cynthia in Denver

    Hatch them and sell them at chicken swap for $15 a piece!

  2. Very interesting. that’s my first view of a fertilized egg believe it or not. little creepy tho.. that “bullseye” just staring at you accusingly… lol

  3. I’m grateful to have 3 roosters with my 30+ hens. Therefore, we only eat fertile eggs (however, I’ve never noticed the bullseye). As a side note to eggs (on the topic of roosters with your hens), the main advantage I’ve noticed – NO PECKING ORDER among hens. I can add hens as I please with absolutely NO problems. When you have a guy around, the ladies calm down. haha

  4. Linked to this post on my blog last night to show people what fertile eggs look like.

  5. peggy

    So I resently have just started getting 1 egg a day for last 3 days, and had a rooster in with all my hens bit only for one day. If an egg is fertilized and it is hot outside will she constantly sit on it or not because it is hot? How long after (if the rooster possibly got with them) could eggs be fertile?

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