Sure you can take every egg from your chicken nesting box and put them in the incubator. You aren't going to get great results going that route though. When we incubate we want excellent results and hatch healthy birds. That's why choosing eggs for incubating is important.
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Choosing Eggs for Incubating
If you're using your own from your existing flock this won't be as much of a problem. You know your hens, you know they're well cared for and given optimal conditions so they lay the best eggs.
But there are still a few things to consider.
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Things to Keep in Mind When Collecting Eggs
Age of Eggs
Ideally, they should be put into the incubator seven days or less after laying. Fertility starts to fall after that and hatch rates are therefore likely to be lower.
You can collect for longer, 10 days being the maximum time frame, if you aren't getting many eggs each day.
Condition of Eggs
Sometimes eggs aren't all that clean even when you try hard to keep a clean nesting box. I have some hens who seem to be against having anything in their nesting box and then their eggs get dirtier than I would like.
You cannot wash eggs you plan to incubate. This will wash away the bloom and allow bacteria to get into the egg. If possible, scrape it off with a fingernail. This leaves the ‘bloom' on the outside of the shell intact, and that protects it from bacteria.
Shape of Eggs
One other thing to consider is the shape of the eggs you collect.
When choosing from a group of eggs, pick those with a ‘normal' shape. If it looks too long, it's rounded at both ends, it looks porous when candled or it's pitted, try to choose one with a better shape.
I have had amazing success with what I call football eggs, but that is not always the case.
One exception to this is the Marans egg. These tend to be rounded at both ends and are perfectly good for hatching.
The Size of Eggs for Incubating
You want to incubate the ideal egg, no overly large eggs. These can be double yolks and while it can be interesting to try and hatch a set of twins they die more often than not.
You also don't want to incubate smaller eggs as these result in smaller, sometimes weaker, unhealthy chicks.
Picking Coturnix Quail Eggs for Incubation
When you are looking to hatch jumbo Coturnix quail an important thing to look for is the size of the egg. Jumbo eggs are those that are 14 grams or larger. This is something to keep in mind if you are looking to hatch true jumbo Coturnix quail.
Just like chicken eggs you want to pick the best eggs, not too dirty, and not odd-shaped.
Make sure that as you collect eggs you are storing them point side down. It helps to remember when you have collected by gently writing the date on the rounded end of the egg in pencil.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are good eggs for incubation? Chickens that are 1-3 years old are most fertile so their eggs have the best hatch rate.
How do you prepare eggs for incubation? Store them rounded side up at room temperature until ready to incubate, tilting them between one and three times a day so the yolk doesn't sit on one side for too long.