Candling eggs is a necessity during the incubation process when hatching baby chicks.
Now a broody hen doesn’t need to do this as God made her instinctively know which eggs are growing and which are not. She will naturally kick out any eggs that are not to her liking. Unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury, so we candle the eggs.
It is common to candle eggs multiple times throughout development. I choose to candle twice. Once on day 7 and once on day 17. Remember it only takes 21 days for chicks to grow and hatch.
It helps to candle at night or in a dark closet. Take a high quality flash light in one hand, and in the other gently cup the egg placing the flashlight beneath your hand. This allows the light to shine through the egg giving you a glimpse of the inside. Take special care to not drop the egg!
As a chicken farmer, hobbyist or small homesteader candling is beneficial for several reasons.
- Fertilization: The only way to determine if an egg is fertile is to crack it open and since we are growing baby chicks, we don’t want to do that. If you have roosters it is likely most of your eggs will be fertilized, but that is not always the case. When candling you should be able to see blood vessels if development has been successful. Any eggs that have not developed are not fertile and need to be thrown out. If unfertilized eggs are left in the incubator, they may begin to rot and cause unhealthy bacteria for the growing embryos.
- Stage of Development: Candling also allows you to see the size of the embryo. This gives you a good indication if they are on target for their hatch date. Baby chicks are like any other creature they develop different parts at different intervals of the incubation process. If you are candling later in the game (day17), this will also tell you if a chick is not the size it should be for hatch (indicating it has died or stopped growing). Some homesteaders choose to throw out the less developed eggs at this point, but I do not. Miracles do happen!Once you have completed candling each egg, place it back in its space in the incubator. Remove any unfertilized eggs. Place the lid back on the incubator and make sure the temperature and humidity levels rise (99.5-100.5 degrees and 55-60 percent) to insure a good hatch rate.
Do not worry about having the lid off of the incubator while you are candling. God made momma hens to get down off of their eggs once a days (for roughly an hour) to stretch their legs and eat and drink. As long as you work within that time frame your baby chicks should be fine!
Have you tried candling your eggs? Why or why not?