Candling Chicken Eggs: The Easy Beginner’s Guide

Are you new to the world of hatching eggs and wondering what on earth is candling chicken eggs? Don’t worry it isn’t as weird as it sounds. We’ll teach you everything you need to know about candling eggs and give you our best tips for success. 

Candling eggs is to determine the condition of the air cell, yolk, and white. Candling detects bloody whites, blood spots, or meat spots, and enables observation of germ development.

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What Does Candling Chicken Eggs Mean?

Candling chicken eggs means that you are checking an egg you are in the process of trying to hatch for the development of a chick. You can check on the condition of the air cell, yolk, and white when candling eggs. And can detect bloody whites, blood spots, or meat spots through the shell. 

The term candling eggs comes from the original method of holding an egg over a candle to see inside the shell. However using a candle can overheat your eggs, not to mention burn your fingers. So these days it’s done with either a flashlight or egg candler. 

Why Is Candling Chicken Eggs Important?

Candling chicken eggs allows you to check on the growth and development of the chicks during the hatch, which gives you the opportunity to remove any that have not developed chicks. 

What Do You Need To Candle Chicken Eggs

To candle chicken eggs you will need:

  • Clean hands – you want to limit how much you are touching the eggs you are hatching so the oils on your skin don’t clog the pores of the shell. 
  • An egg candler or bright flashlight – Either option will work to candle chicken eggs, I usually go with a bright flashlight. 
  • A Dark room – this will help you to be able to see through the shell a little easier. 

How Do You Candle Chicken Eggs?

To candle chicken eggs you’ll need to either purchase an egg candler or a bright flashlight to use. Wash your hands and dry them before handling the eggs you will be candling. 

Gently remove the egg you wish to candle from your incubator and take it into a dark room. Place the egg against the flashlight or egg candler. Now you’ll be able to see through the shell *some eggs are too dark to see through when candling chicken eggs*

You should be able to see veins developing on the inside of your egg, and sometimes you can even see the heartbeat of the chick inside. 

  • Identify winners (eggs that have developed chicks).
    • To know if the egg has developed a chick look for a network of blood vessels that appear white. A dark outline at the center of the blood vessels is the embryo. You may even see the embryo moving slightly. These will tell you that your egg has a chick inside of it.
  • Identify eggs that have either quit developing or never developed a chick and remove them from the incubator.
    • The main way to identify a quitter is by spotting the blood ring (a well-defined red circle visible on the inside of the shell). This ring will develop after a chick has died and the blood vessels pull away from the embryo resting against the inside of the eggshell. 
    • a yolker it will appear quite clear without any signs of development. It will glow. There will be no blood vessels, no dark embryo, and no blood ring. It will look the same way it did when you candled your eggs prior to placing them in the incubator. This happens when an egg was not fertilized. 

When you are done candling chicken eggs, carefully place them back into the incubator and close the lid. 

When Should I Candle My Chicken Eggs?

You can start candling chicken eggs starting on day 5 after you’ve started incubating your chicken eggs. After that, you can do it every couple of days to monitor the growth and development of your chicks. Or you can simply leave them alone until they hatch. 


Frequently Asked Questions About Candling Chicken Eggs

How Do I Know What I Am Looking For When Candling Chicken Eggs?

Around day 5 (and the more practice you get candling chicken eggs) you should be able to see veins developing on the inside of the eggs when candled. As the hatch progresses you should be able to identify a large shadowy place in the egg and maybe even see the heartbeat and movement of the chicks. 

If you are interested in seeing how a chick develops in the egg check out this great article from The Chicken Chick. 

How Do You Know If An Egg Is Alive Or Dead When Candling Eggs?

You may hear them tapping inside if you hold the large end of the egg up to your ear if the chick is ready to hatch.  Often if the chick dies a clear space develops under the air cell and the shadow of the chick looks blotchy and lumpy.

 Does It Matter Which End Is Up When Candling Chicken Eggs?

Always candle chicken eggs with the pointed end facing downwards. 

Does Moving The Egg While Candling Chicken Eggs Damage it?

Candling chicken eggs do not damage the embryos inside the eggs just be careful not to jolt the egg and don’t overheat it from the candling device or keep the eggs out of the incubator for too long.

What Does A Rotten Egg Look Like When Candling?

You can identify a rotten egg by the opaque look they get from the bacteria growing inside. 

Is It Ok To Candle Eggs Every Day?

You can candle your chicken eggs every day if you’d like, after day 3 you should be able to see something Be sure that your hands are clean and dry when you handle the eggs.

Does Candling Hurt Eggs

Candling chicken eggs or hatching eggs in general doesn’t hurt them.

Should You Candle Eggs Beneath A Broody Hen?

While you can candle chicken eggs from beneath a broody hen, it isn’t necessary. A hen will only be on her clutch for 21 days so a bad egg will not have time to contaminate the other eggs she is sitting on. If you really want to candle chicken eggs from her clutch make sure you limit how much you are touching the eggs and wash your hands before handling them. 

Tips For Candling Chicken Eggs

  • Use a completely dark room to candle your chicken eggs.
  • Try not to candle chicken eggs daily. 
  • If you aren’t sure wait a few days and candle your eggs again.
  • The darker the shell of your egg, the brighter the light you will need to see through. 
  • Candle chicken eggs several times over the course of your hatch (you may want to work out a schedule to do this so you won’t forget).

We hope that answered all of your handling chicken eggs, but if not drop them in the comments and we will do our best to answer them!

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