Most producers set as many eggs as their breeders produce. If incubator space is the limiting factor, it is more profitable to select the better quality eggs for incubating.
A few tips to follow when selecting hatching eggs are:
• Select eggs from breeders that are (1) well developed, mature and healthy; (2) compatible with their mates and produce a high percentage of fertile eggs; (3) are not disturbed much during the mating season; (4) fed a complete breeder diet; and (5) not directly related [brother, sister, mother, father, etc.].
• Avoid excessively large or small eggs. Large eggs hatch poorly and small eggs produce small chicks.
• Avoid eggs with cracked or thin shells. These eggs have difficulty retaining moisture needed for proper chick development. Penetration of disease organisms increase in cracked eggs.
• Do not incubate eggs that are excessively misshapen.
• Keep only clean eggs for hatching. Do not wash dirty eggs or wipe eggs clean with a damp cloth. This removes the egg's protective coating and exposes it to entry of disease organisms. The washing and rubbing action also serves to force disease organisms through the pores of the shell.
Many times a producer carefully attends to the incubation process but disregards the care of the eggs before they are placed in the incubator. Even before incubation starts the embryo is developing and needs proper care. Hatching eggs suffer from reduced hatchability if the eggs are not cared for properly. Listed below are tips to help maintain hatching egg quality.
• Collect eggs at least three times daily. When daily high temperatures exceed 85 degrees F. increase egg collection to five times daily. Collect two or three times in the morning and one or two times in the afternoon.
• Slightly soiled eggs can be used for hatching purposes without causing hatching problems, but dirty eggs should not be saved. Do not wash dirty eggs.
• Store eggs in a cool-humid storage area. Ideal storage conditions include a 55 degree F. temperature and 75% relative humidity. Store the eggs with the small end pointed downward.
• Alter egg position periodically if not incubating within 4-6 days. Turn the eggs to a new position once daily until placing in the incubator.
• Hatchability holds reasonably well up to seven days, but declines rapidly afterward. Therefore, do not store eggs more than 7 days before incubating. After 3 weeks of storage, hatchability drops to almost zero. Plan ahead and have a regular hatching schedule to avoid storage problems and reduced hatches.
• Allow cool eggs to warm slowly to room temperature before placing in the incubator. Abrupt warming from 55 degrees to 100 degrees causes moisture condensation on the egg shell that leads to disease and reduced hatches.