May 30, 2011

Egg Candling with an LED flashlight. Includes embryo development pictures

Below you will find photos of the Ameraucana eggs that have been incubating on my kitchen counter for the past 13 days. For those of you who do not share the hatching addiction: "candling" is the method used to determine whether incubated eggs are fertile or not. When candling, a bright light is held up to the egg to illuminate the shell's contents. Candling is best done in dark conditions, at night or even inside a dark closet.
C'mon, don't tell me you've never done it. 99.9%  of hatch-a-holics have found themselves in the closet with a light and an egg at some point. We just don't discuss it at cocktail parties. We're desperate and we don't care what it takes. We simply must know what's going on inside those eggs: "Are they fertile or were they better left to accompany bacon and toast? Are they growing? They are? Yes! Are they still growing or are they 'quitters?'  One just moved!"  Whatever it takes, if it helps us get a clearer glimpse into the amazing, twenty-one day miracle that is a chicken-in-the making, count us in.

I have recently come out of the candling closet. For less than the price of a cup of coffee, I am out. There was no 12 step program, no coaching, no Dr. Phil.  Just an innocent trip to Tractor Supply for feed and there it sat, unassumingly, on the check-out counter. It called to me. Admittedly, I had always been looking for my next score: a better,brighter flashlight. I'd give this one a whirl. For under two bucks, I figured, where's the harm?

I brought it home that afternoon and headed directly to the closet. This little flashlight packs a beacon so powerful that I can now candle in broad daylight, in the middle of my kitchen. (gasp!)  It is that bright. Don't take my word for it, go get your own. You'll thank me later.

Don't be fooled by it's compact size.
These eggs have been incubating for 13 days, there are 8 remaining until the expected hatch date. 
 The chick in this egg is visible at 3 o'clock:

This chick is head-down, pointing towards 6 o'clock: 

This is the side opposite the chick, it shows the blood supply of the chick. All of the blood must be absorbed by the chick over the next 8 days in order for it to hatch properly. 

I can't say I've ever noticed a warning on a flashlight before, but this is one with which, my children will not play (that's MY job!)
Name brand Metrix™ 


  1. OMG, I've seen those flash lights at TSC and it never occurred to me to use it as a candler! What a great idea! Now I am dying to hatch out chicks but can't because I had to move to the city :( I did manage to take 5 chickens with me so I at least have chickens, just won't be able to have chicks for a while.

  2. Katie Skardoutos2/20/12, 11:55 AM

    3 attempt at a post.

    This is one of my favorite blogs, I actually had one of the flashlights and because of your pics, was able to see exactly what was going on in my incubating eggs! I also LOVED the embryonic journey blog, the coop blog (love your coop!!!) and the first aid blog. I have read all of them and I've learned so much, I'm very grateful to have found you on FB!

  3. Hi Kathy this is Debbie Cade . I can't figure out this blog page, on the select profile part. I just finished candling my eggs. Out of 33, 10 don't look like they have any viens in them. Should I throw them away? Also I can't see anything in the dark eggs so I don't know how they are doing. Does 10 bad eggs seem like a lot ? Today is day 7. It's really neat to see those little ones that are developing.

    1. Hi Debbie! You can always email me if you prefer. ;)

      On day 7 if you don't see any veining or an eye, I would be confident tossing them. For shipped eggs I do not consider ten a bad day 7. A good HATCH rate for shipped eggs is only 50%. They may not have been fertile in the first place, regardless of whether they were shipped eggs or not, that's always a possibility.
      Share pics on my FB page if you can get a good one!! (dark room, flashlight and no flash on the camera).

      So exciting, Debbie!

  4. Am definitely going to get one of those little TSC closer than 35 miles, but will check local Farm & Ranch store, as well as local hardware...if need be, will go to closest

  5. Thanks for this! Our 4-H group is incubating Marans and I've had no success in building a candler that works. I was able to pick these up for $8 for the whole group and they worked wonderfully! It was an extra bonus to have all viable eggs too! We were able to see the eyes and embryo moving around at 7 days with this. So exciting!

  6. Hey this is a great idea. It never hurts to have a a few cheap flashlights around. I would say the Best Flashlight I found to keep handy is the little mini Maglite. They are about $12 but it is waterproof too.

  7. Heidi Blake Knepp5/18/14, 5:29 PM

    21 days is so long when you have eggs incubating.

  8. Will be getting one tomorrow