Expanding your flock with fertile eggs
Many Australian poultry keepers choose to grow their flock using fertile eggs purchased from a breeder. The fertile eggs can be incubated and hatched using an egg incubator or broody hen.
Advantages of expanding your flock with fertile eggs
Fertile eggs can be purchased from breeders nationwide and delivered in the post. This provides easy access to a wide range of breeds, including breeds that might not otherwise be available in your area.
There is a lower risk of introducing diseases to your existing flock by hatching the chicks yourself compared to introducing live chickens.
Purchasing fertile eggs is usually the cheapest way to expand your flock.
Purchasing Fertile Eggs Locally
If you plan to purchase fertile eggs locally, you reduce the risk of damaging the eggs during transportation. However, there are still considerations that you need to make before purchasing.
Ensure that you have researched the breed that you are interested in and know what a purebred specimen of your chosen breed looks like. When you go to pick up the fertile eggs take advantage of the fact that you can see the parent hens and rooster. All of the rules that apply to purchasing live poultry should be followed to ensure that the parent birds are healthy and have a strong bloodline history. If the breeder's flock is not in top condition, don't purchase any fertile eggs from them. Ensure that the breeder has a record of long term fertility rates and that any different breeds are enclosed separately. Factors such as poor nutrition, stress and small enclosures can all negatively effect the fertility rate and health of your future flock. There is nothing worse than incubating eggs for three weeks and planning for the arrival of chicks to find poor, or a lack of fertility from an unreliable breeder. Even if you are just after some egg layers for the backyard, these considerations should be taken seriously, as poor bloodline history or genetics can negatively affect the health and age expectancy of your flock into the future.
Purchasing Fertile Eggs Online
When purchasing fertile eggs online it is important to ensure that the eggs you are purchasing are from a purebred and healthy flock with constantly updated bloodlines.
When purchasing online it can be harder to find out the information that you need in order to determine whether the fertile eggs are a good purchase or not. Ask the breeder for pictures of their birds and where they are kept, fertility records, the most recent fertility rates, fertility rates from their customers, and whether they update their flocks' bloodlines.
Before making a purchase ensure that you are not being scamed. Purchasing fertile eggs on sites such as Gumtree can be risky and you should always talk to the breeder over the phone before making any payments. Always pay with PayPal. By paying with PayPal you know that you credit card details are secure and offers some buyer protection. It also ensures that the breeder receives your payment quickly, so that the eggs can be posted as soon as possible.
Taking Delivery of Your Fertile Eggs
Once you receive your fertile eggs, leave them to sit for a few hours before incubating them. If possible, don't leave fertile eggs you have had posted for longer than 24 hours before incubating them. When storing fertile eggs, keep them at around 18 degrees Celsius and turn the eggs a minimum of twice per day. If you are using an incubator, ensure that it is working correctly. Incubators should be left running for 48 hours before fertile eggs are set. During this period, it is important to check that the temperature stays stable. The greatest cause of a poor hatch rate is slightly incorrect temperature or humidity that is not changed to the appropriate level during the different incubation periods. It is recommended that a thermometer and hydrometer are used to monitor the temperature and humidity as well as the readouts from automatic incubators LED display. Accurate incubator thermometers and hydrometers can be found for sale on this site by clicking this link. The eggs should hatch around 21 days after being set, depending on the type of poultry and breed. Once the chicks hatch, inform the breeder of the hatch rate so they can add it to their own records.
Selling, Packaging, and Sending Fertile Eggs
Selling fertile eggs is a highly rewarding and easy way to generate some income out of your flock.
The following guide has been produced by experts with many years of experience at selling and delivering fertile
Once an order has been placed
It is important that once an order for fertile eggs has been placed that the breeder collects the eggs promptly to
ensure that they arrive as quickly and as fresh as possible. Prompt delivery is important for many purchasers
who have a limited time frame before their broody hen leaves her nest.
Never send an egg to a customer who has purchased fertile eggs if:
1. It is deformed in any way
2. It is dirty (washing fertile eggs in not recommend)
3. It is not an 'average' size
4. It has been refrigerated
5. It was laid over five days ago
6. If it has been exposed to high temperatures (left in a nest on a long, hot day)
7. It has not been turned twice daily since it was laid
If fertile eggs are packaged correctly then any breakages or cracks are rare. The most important thing to ensure is that the fertile eggs are 100% fertile. Sure, no matter how well the purchaser incubates them, they are unlikely to get a hatch rate higher than 80%. The important thing it to ensure that when the breeder tests the fertility that they are not finding 'blank' eggs that have not started to develop. Anyone selling fertile eggs needs to contact their customers one month after sending the eggs to find out what percentage of the eggs were fertile. It is understandable if there are outliers where the incubation method was at fault, however if a pattern occurs then stop selling eggs as fertile immediately. It is also important to check fertility at the beginning of each season by hatching some of the eggs. The eggs cannot be sold as fertile until a strong hatch rate has been recorded. As a general rule, you should be confident enough that the eggs you are selling are fertile to willingly refund any order that does not hatch where the buyer is experienced at hatching fertile eggs.
The following method of delivery for fertile eggs has been developed over a number of years to ensure the strongest fertility rates and lowest breakages. The first step it to individually wrap each egg in kitchen paper before placing them in an egg carton. The egg carton is then wrapped generously in bubble wrap to protect the eggs from any drops that could occur during transit. Once the bubble wrap has been wrapped around the egg carton around four times, it is placed in an Australia post Large Parcels Express satchel with any spare space filled up with crumpled newspaper. This method ensures that the embryos are not shaken within the egg carton, ensuring the highest fertility rates. It is important that Express Postage is used to ensure that the fertile eggs arrive fresh and spend the least amount of time susceptible to damage during transportation. Although this shipping method costs more than standard shipping, it is crucial as this postage service guarantees next business day postage to most Australian residential addresses. The longer the eggs remain in transit the more likely it is that the hatch rate will decrease. Another huge advantage with this method is that no matter where you send the eggs in Australia, the postage fee remains the same at $13.20 (May 2012) including the satchel and postage fees. Using second hand egg cartons and buying bubble wrap in bulk keeps the cost of packaging below one dollar per dozen. The best option to send two dozen eggs, or eggs to remote places where they are more likely to be damaged is using the same technique as the first method with the egg carton, kitchen paper, and bubble wrap, but then placing the wrapped egg cartons into an Australia Post size 2 mail box and filling in the gaps with newspaper.
Also see Poultry Australia's guide to Candling Fertile Eggs