How To Repair A Cracked Or Broken Hatching Egg
Cracks and breaks occasionally happen when you’re hatching eggs. The worst break I’ve repaired was my rooster’s hatching egg. I was doing the last candling before “lockdown” and had a hen exploring the house. She flew up to see what I was doing and knocked an egg off the counter onto the tile floor three feet below. Side note: I wouldn’t recommend letting chickens in the house while candling eggs, lol! I still can’t believe my boy hatched. His egg looked AWFUL! The membrane was still intact, but the shell was obliterated in several places. I was so busy fixing it that I didn’t even get good pictures. After repairing the break, he hatched a healthy, happy chick and grew into a beautiful flock protector.
If this is your first experience with a broken hatching egg, take a deep breath. As long as the membrane is still intact, it’s relatively easy to repair a crack or break. Here’s how to do it.
The highest risk to an egg with a cracked or broken shell is for the membrane to dry out and shrink-wrap the chick. Before you do anything else, wet a clean towel/cloth with warm water, wring it out, so it’s damp (not soaking) and wrap it around the cracked/broken egg. I use a clean washcloth, but paper towels will work as well. Then set the egg back into the incubator while you grab the repair supplies.
I’ve seen people online use a bit of scotch tape to fix cracks, and for small cracks, if that’s what you’ve got, use it. I, however, use candle wax for everything from small cracks to big breaks and it works well. What I like is that it gets into the nooks & crannies and most of the time chicks can hatch without help.
It’s best to use a new candle, but anything you’ve got will work. You can either shave some off and microwave it to melt it or if you’re like me and don’t own a microwave, just light the candle and drip the wax straight onto the break. The liquid will spread into the cracks and lightly seal the egg, so it doesn’t dry out. Use only as much wax as needed to seal the crack/break. The thicker the wax, the more likely the chick will need help hatching.
As you can see in the one picture I took post-repair, I used a LOT on my roo’s egg. I was a little panicked, and the break was severe. I used more than I would have liked to, and I did have to help my roo hatch. Do the best you can. Just be aware that you don’t want to cover the entire egg, only the cracked/broken places.
Wait & Watch
After the crack/break is sealed, gently place the egg into your incubator. If the egg was previously under a broody hen, it can’t go back to her until it’s a chick. It’s still very fragile and any pressure from the hen will most likely break the egg open. If you don’t have an incubator, there are DIY options that you can find online. I’d recommend ordering one though and just using the DIY choice until your incubator arrives.
The further along the chick was in development before the crack happened, the better chances it has of hatching. I would recommend rotating the repaired egg manually if the crack/break was medium to severe. You can absolutely still candle it, but be very gentle.
Start paying extra close attention to the repaired egg on day 18 of the incubation period. I’m usually glued to the incubator from day 18 till every last one has hatched, but I’m a certified chicken nut! Your little chick might need some help to get out of his/her repaired shell. Intervention is a very delicate process and needs to be timed just right. To learn more about when and how to assist a hatching chick, I recommend reading the “Step By Step Guide To Assisted Hatching” written on my favorite chicken keeping forum.
Most likely, by day 21 your chick will be flopping around in the incubator, learning to walk and drying off its new fluff! Please let me know how it turned out for you!
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