My blog readers are in serious trouble. You’ve asked ME about eggs/setting/baby chicks. I will share what I know but honestly, I don’t know much. I feel like I’m writing a fiction story . . making stuff up as I go. Please don’t tell anyone anything I’m about to tell you because it’s probably at least 90% wrong. 🙂
Chickens lay eggs. There does not have to be a rooster on the scene.
Whether or not there’s a rooster, the chicken still lays the egg just the same.
If there’s no rooster, the eggs are not fertile. If there’s a rooster, the eggs probably are fertile because roosters . . well, they’re men chickens and . . well, if you’re explaining this to your kids, you’re on your own with the further explanation but roosters do what roosters do and then the eggs are fertile.
So if a hen has been with a rooster, she lays a fertile egg. If not, she lays a non-fertile egg.
From the outside, the eggs all look the same. I’m not sure if you can see it on a store bought egg but if you look at the yolk, somewhere you’ll see a tiny little white-ish, opaque circle. If the egg is fertile, the circle will be solid. If the circle is hollow looking in the center, kinda like a donut, the egg is not fertile. Here’s a good example with pictures.
If a hen lays a fertile egg and I get it, it’s just like any other egg. I don’t see any difference. We eat fertile and non-fertile eggs and can’t tell the difference but I gather them within an hour or two of them being layed and never let the hens set on the eggs we’re eating.
If the hen begins to “set” on the egg, or if I place the egg in an incubator, after a few days, the baby chicken will begin to form. If I’m not sure if there’s a baby chick, I can “candle” the egg. This is a process of holding a lit candle or a bright flashlight to the egg and looking for a baby chick.
My chicks are 6 months old and I wasn’t expecting them to get “broody” and start setting this early. I’m not sure how many eggs are under Louise. It doesn’t matter so I don’t mess with aggravating her to see how many are under her.
Here’s a funny story: Louise and Tiffany each lay an egg almost every day. I get 4 or 5 eggs from them each week. While Louise is setting, I don’t think she’s laying but I haven’t gotten any eggs from Tiffany since last Friday. I wasn’t sure if she was laying eggs and Louise was somehow getting them into her nest, or if out of respect or sympathy for Louise, Tiffany had just stopped laying. This morning I opened the egg door to check on Louise and Tiffany was in the nesting box with her but I scared Tiffany and she jumped down but . . she left an egg behind. I figured I’d just leave it there and see if Louise moved it under herself. An hour or so I went back out and sure enough . . the egg was missing. Louise had added it to her little family of eggs. I’m glad I saw that. Tiffany is brown. Louise is snow white. Thelma, the father of both eggs/potential chicks is snow white.
Two weeks from tomorrow and if all goes well, we should have baby Silkies!