“What is the difference between hatching eggs and eating eggs?” A friend asked Sarah and I this most eggs-cellent question recently while we were hanging some flyers for our farm.
This is a great question. Producing eating eggs is pretty straightforward: eggs laid, eggs eaten. Far more goes into the production and selection of a hatching egg.
I thought I'd share some of the differences here. When we produce hatching eggs, we pay careful attention to:
Freshness: Eating eggs last for weeks, but a hatching egg should be a week old, max, when placed in the incubator. This week includes collection, shipping, and at least a day of rest after shipping.
Selective breeding: This includes understanding genetics, knowing the Standard of Perfection for the breed, spending time evaluating each bird, knowing their individual health and temperament, keeping good records, and more.
Housing: All that selective breeding requires housing! Our laying flock can hang out in one big coop, but our breeding groups need separate coops and tractors so that we can guarantee pure breed chicks and keep good records.
Quality: Not every fertile egg is a hatching egg. They need to be clean, well shaped, have a strong shell, and be free of defects or oddities.
Handling: There’s a live embryo inside! We handle our hatching eggs with care, making sure to store them air cell up in a clean, sanitized, dedicated space at the right temperature and humidity, until carefully packaged for shipment or delivery.
Fertility: Each breeding group needs a great rooster, and before sharing eggs we test hatch for fertility, to make sure that our boys are doing their jobs and that our chicks are hatching without issue.