Candling chicken eggs is a way to see if the eggs are fertile and will hatch into baby chicks. Candling is also used to monitor the fertilized egg to see if it has stopped developing. See how our eggs are developing on incubation day 5 and day 7.
The candling process works by lighting the interior of an egg so you can see what is inside the shell. Here we share out method for candling an egg.
This week at ImaginAcres has been mighty interesting! We’ve been inspecting the eggs in our incubator to look for signs of life, and oh boy have we found some! Candling eggs on day 7 has been particularly interesting, we can see the tiny embryos moving already!
I’m going to show you how to candle an egg during incubation and exactly what you’ll inside, including some cool videos. Are you ready?!
For those of you who haven’t been following, we’re incubating ten eggs from our chickens this month. We started off with fifteen, but only found ten of the fifteen to be fertile and developing properly.
Five eggs have been removed from the incubator to avoid the risk of them developing nasty stinky bacteria inside and then BLOWING UP all over the place. Yes, this really happens, and having to clean up rotten egg goo sounds like the worst job on the planet.
Tips for Candling Eggs
Why should you candle eggs?
- To identify and remove the duds.
- To see how the embryos are growing.
What can be used to candle the eggs?
You need a bright light in a dark room. Here are some options:
- I like to use an ultra-bright LED flashlight to see inside the egg.
- Or this candling light that functions similarly to a flashlight.
- You can also use a candling lamp that also holds the egg for you.
- You can also build your own candler with the DIY Candle instructions here.
How to Candle Eggs
It makes it much easier to see inside if you candle the eggs at night and turn off all the lights in the room so is very dark.
I make my hand into a loose fist, like I’m holding onto a mixing spoon with it. On the top of my hand I carefully place the egg, and then point the lighted flashlight upright into bottom of my palm. The light shines up through my loose fist and shines through the egg so I can see everything inside.
We’ve been watching the teeny embryos swimming around inside their shell for two days now. Every time I’m intently watching the egg and suddenly see an eyeball swim past the surface I can feel my skin crawl and my jaw drop. Yes, it’s that amazing EVERY TIME.
Candling Chicken Eggs Day 5
First I’m going to show you some photos from candling eggs on Day 5. On this day, the embryos’ reproductive organs were formed. Way to go little embryos!
You can see a lot of veining in this photo, and the air sac is clearly defined at the large end of the egg. The embryo is contained in that dark shadow on the top.
That super dark spot next to the pencil lines is the chick’s eye. At this point in development, the eye takes up a huge portion of the embryo’s head and is easy to see through the egg.
This photo above was also taken on day 5. The embryo is in the very center of the “O” with the veins spidering out from it. We could see a little movement in there but nothing compared to the videos taken today!
Just for reference, here’s a photo of an unfertilized or undeveloped egg. On day 5 you should see veining and maybe the shadow of the embryo, but this egg that was candled on day 5 looks exactly the same as an egg candled before incubation:
I suspected that egg had a detached yolk, as it was freely floating all around the egg when I turned it. Since I knew it wasn’t fertilized, I broke it open in a bowl before throwing it away. Curiosity got the better of me. When we candled, I could see that dark spot on the egg through the shell. I thought it was a developing chick, but no, a rotting egg. Very good thing I got that thing out of the incubator before it started to stink!
Candling Chicken Eggs Day 7
On day seven, we candled again. By day seven the embryo’s organs have all formed and a teeny little beak is beginning to take shape. The heart, which was formed outside of the body, moves inside the body on this day.
Here’s a video of egg #1, who has consistently been the most active embryo in the bunch. It looks like it’s dancing every time I shine a light on it. I can’t wait to see what kind of crazy chicken comes out of this egg! You can very clearly see the veins in this one, and in the very beginning you can see the embryo’s eyeball coming across as a dark spot- swim across the surface of the egg. Creepy, yes?
Here’s our second video of embryo movement, a little harder to see but fascinating none-the-less!
Our chicks are due to hatch on April 2nd. I’ll be sure to post plenty more photos and videos before then, so be prepared for more embryonic chicken weirdness to come.