Storage and Handling of Eggs prior to incubation
Sometimes it is necessary to store eggs before incubation. If you are collecting your own eggs, for example, or if you bought eggs before having a way to incubate them.
It happens more than you would think, and it’s always better to be prepared just in case. Below is more information on how to properly store and handle eggs in order to get the best results.
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Improving Egg Quality
The most important thing to remember is that egg quality cannot be improved once they are laid.
After an egg is laid that is the highest quality it will ever be, and it’s only downhill from there. Improper storage and handling makes matters worse, but following certain guidelines can help your eggs last until you’re ready to incubate.
Note: Eggs should always be stored pointy-end down.
If eggs are stored at a high temperature they will start to develop, which can cause problems when you set them in an incubator. The ideal temperature range prior to incubation is 53 - 59°F. Our blog on what happens when the power goes out gives more detail on what happens if the eggs are stored at a higher temperature. Temperatures that are too low could cause freezing and a breakdown of the embryo structure.
When you do incubate the eggs, it is important to bring them up to temperature slowly. Moving an egg from 53 - 59°F to 99.5°F too quickly can cause thermal shock. Slowly bring the eggs to room temperature and then into the incubator to avoid complications.
Proper humidity during storage is important, because low humidity can cause the egg to dry out before incubation. The ideal range is between 75 and 85%, which is easier to achieve at low temperatures.
Time in Storage
The rule of thumb for time in storage is seven days. Eggs have been successfully kept for longer periods, but seven days is the longest you should plan to store your eggs. Hatchability chances decrease after the seven-day mark, due to vitamins decaying and the membrane breaking down.
Cracked, misshapen, and heavily soiled eggs should be discarded (if possible). You can read our article on cleaning eggs before incubation if you would like to try cleaning dirty eggs. Always wash eggs in a solution that is warmer than they are so that the water does not flow inwards and contaminate the egg. Wet cleaning will remove the outer cuticle from the egg, so cleaned eggs should be incubated as soon as possible.
Turning During Storage
Even during storage eggs should be turned. They don’t need to be turned as often as they do during incubation, however. Once a day should do the trick, back and forth for 45° each time. Not turning the eggs during storage can cause the yolk to float and touch membranes, which can cause it to stick and prevent the embryo from growing during incubation.
Care should be taken while handling the eggs to keep from rupturing the yolk. If any internal damage occurs the egg will not hatch.
If you are collecting your own eggs there are a few reasons why it’s important to collect eggs first thing in the morning. You can also check again around noon to see if there are any more eggs to collect. This can help keep eggs clean and it can also prevent hens and predators from eating the eggs.
Egg Shape, Texture, and Quality
Eggs that are naturally misshapen may not hatch. Small eggs usually have a large yolk in proportion to the albumen, and large eggs can have two yolks, or twins, and cannot be successfully incubated. Other types of misshapen eggs can have faults in the shell.
Uneek Poultry are your Australian Egg Incubator Specialists.
If you have any questions at all regarding this information please comment below or contact us directly.
Credits to the team at Brinsea for writing this article. www.brinsea.com