Trying to count her chickens before they hatch.
April 27, 2009 8:27 PM   Subscribe

Posting for a friend who is a teacher planning to hatch some chickens in class: "I'm getting ready to set my eggs in the incubator tomorrow. I candled them tonight and found the shells to be mottled. Is that bad? I am worried. My fourth graders are depending on me!" Pictures here.
posted by artychoke to Pets & Animals (7 answers total)
Best answer: I do not think it is an issue, Your friend should go to backyardchickens forum to be sure.
posted by Iron Rat at 8:40 PM on April 27, 2009

How is your friend keeping the eggs warm, if s/he's not putting them in the incubator until tomorrow?

How old are the eggs? (ie how many days of incubation?)
posted by different at 8:47 PM on April 27, 2009

If they successfully hatch, please make sure she/he has made humane arrangements for where they're going after the class is done with them. The children will ask. When my daughter was in 1st grade, we became the somewhat reluctant owners of 14 chicks because her teacher hadn't made any plans beyond the classroom project and we were the only family who lived on enough land to legally keep them. It turned out to be a really cool experience, until they were massacred by a pack of stray dogs who jumped the fence of their little chicken yard, but that's another story for another day.
posted by amyms at 10:21 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yeah, you gotta ask the folks at Any random person on the Incubating & Hatching Eggs board is likely to know more than we do over here.
posted by purpleclover at 10:45 PM on April 27, 2009

Response by poster: Oh, don't worry about the chickens, I think she has a fabulous chicken coop with murals of chickens at an outdoor cafe' or something. She'll either keep them or give them to other people who want them. (She kept promising one to my children one year, no thanks!) I will ask her all of the above questions and post later. (Teachers go to bed early and are not available for updates!)
posted by artychoke at 5:31 AM on April 28, 2009

I think it's bad. I worked on wild ducks and if they were mottled, we assumed they wouldn't hatch. This website ( seems to back me up.

On the other hand, if by mottled she means one big/little patch, she's probably okay.

Also, she means that the inside of the egg is mottled, right? Not the shell itself?
posted by hydrobatidae at 6:38 AM on April 28, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Here is an update from my friend:

Thanks for this! I am a member of Backyard Chickens and also the I posted there and was reassured that some shells are just mottled, that's all. It shouldn't affect the hatch.

Just an update: eggs went in the incubator on Tuesday as scheduled. We candled them today and found tiny embryonic chicks moving in most of them! Yay!

Next Monday when we candle them again, we will discard the ones we can't find anything in.

Regarding their storage prior to incubating, they were just at room temp. They don't start developing until the hen (or incubator) starts setting. So that's how they are in the nest. The hen won't set until she has a good clutch of eggs which normally takes her well over a week to lay.

Humane accommodation question: I am keeping 3; I'll offer others to the kids if they're interested, but any leftovers will go to a farmer known to the guy at the Double M. He's got a "humane" use for poultry. Of course, mine will be beloved and indulged pets.
posted by artychoke at 5:55 PM on May 4, 2009

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