For disease prevention and health reasons, it’s best to get all the eggs from one source. If you get your eggs locally but cannot get the number you want in one day, the eggs can be held for up to 7 - 10 days before they are set in the incubator. Longer storage periods are possible but require further measures to keep the eggs viable.
Until they are incubated, hatching eggs should be stored carefully at approximently 70° Fahrenheit. If you need more time to collect the number of eggs you need, start putting three- to seven-day-old eggs in a cooler (60°F) room.
It is important to clean eggs gently by scrubbing the dirt of with a knife. Do not use water or cleaning products because you will take off the natural protective coating.
If the eggs are stored over three days, rotate them once a day. Mail order eggs should be set as soon as they arrive.
Select only the best eggs for incubation, and discard any which have thin shells or fine hairline cracks.
Eggs must be turned while collecting as wel as in the incubator to prevent the embryo from sticking to the shell. If your incubator is not equipped with the optional mechanical turner, mark each egg with an X on one side and an O on the opposite side. When the eggs are turned, all the Xs or all the Os should be face-up at the same time.
- Collect eggs at least three times daily. When daily high temperatures exceed 85 degrees F. increase egg collection to five times daily. Collect two or three times in the morning and one or two times in the afternoon.
- Slightly soiled eggs can be used for hatching purposes without causing hatching problems, but dirty eggs should not be saved. Do not wash dirty eggs.
- Store eggs in a cool-humid storage area. Ideal storage conditions include a 55 degree F. temperature and 75% relative humidity. Store the eggs with the small end pointed downward.
- Alter egg position periodically if not incubating within 4-6 days. Turn the eggs to a new position once daily until placing in the incubator.
- Hatchability holds reasonably well up to seven days, but declines rapidly afterward. Therefore, do not store eggs more than 7 days before incubating. After 3 weeks of storage, hatchability drops to almost zero. Plan ahead and have a regular hatching schedule to avoid storage problems and reduced hatches.
- Allow cool eggs to warm slowly to room temperature before placing in the incubator. Abrupt warming from 55 degrees to 100 degrees causes moisture condensation on the egg shell that leads to disease and reduced hatches.