Feb 13, 2012

Bad Egg in the incubator- a Ticking Time Bomb.


Hatching addicts who have come across a rotten egg in their incubators never forget the smell. The odor is distinctive and unmistakable. Rancid does not begin to describe it.
Oozing egg inside incubator
Why do incubated eggs go bad? Often, dirty eggs are the culprit. Bacteria from a dirty egg grows inside, turning the contents into a foul liquid, killing any embryo present. Gasses build up and generate pressure that may cause the egg to ooze or explode.
Bad Chicken egg in incubator, oozing
Bad Egg in the incubator- a Ticking Time Bomb.I rescued this egg from one of my fairweather broody hens,  who had abandoned her nest after two weeks of sitting. The egg was no longer warm when I found it, which didn’t give me much hope for the embryo’s viability, but I placed it in my incubator hoping for the best a few days ago. Upon inspecting the eggs that had begun to hatch in the bator this morning, I immediately spotted the telltale, maple syrup-looking ooze that strikes fear into the heart of every hatcher. I knew what that innocent, honey-like substance signaled as I had seen it before. A stinkbomb in danger of detonation. Must. Act. Quickly.


I took the egg out of the bator and placed it in two, zip-top bags and took it OUTSIDE. I'm just not a risk taker and the smell of a rotten egg is so pungent it could very well penetrate the confines of two sealed, plastic bags. 


I always insist on knowing what lies within, so of course, I had to perform an eggtopsy (ie: crack that bad-boy open). My weapon of choice for this job is a heavy carving knife. I tap the blunt edge of the knife against the wide end of the egg (where the air sac would be) to crack it, being very careful not to puncture the bag.  A nice, ripe egg will explode with balloon-like force and sound.


This egg, while rotten, did not explode. There was a well-advanced, decomposing embryo inside that, if given more time in the incubator, would have deteriorated further into greenish-black, liquified putresence. While I'm not ordinarily one to spare the photographic details of the graphic, I thought better of it this time. (you're welcome) 

When candling eggs, pay attention to any smell inside the bator to catch rotten eggs early. Bad eggs readily identify themselves and should be removed immediately.

Happy hatching!
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Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick®


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39 comments :

  1. This is very interesting! I would love to hatch my own chicks some day. But I wonder, if I can only have 8 hens, how many eggs do I hatch? (roosters not being allowed in my town) I don't have a problem with making them into food, but I still would have no idea. Someone gave me an incubator...so it is an option someday!

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    1. Thanks, rsalinardi. The answer to your question is: it depends. :)

      If your eggs are being shipped to you, I would recommend setting at least 32 eggs in hopes of ending up with 8 hens. A 50% hatch rate is considered good for mail-order eggs and you can gamble on half being roosters (maybe more, maybe less).

      If the eggs are local and fresh, you can probably get away with setting 16. Not all will be fertile and not all of the fertile ones will develop or hatch.

      If you have an incubator, I suggest that you consider moving to a place where you can have more than 8 hens because there's no such thing as being able to stop hatching at one batch!

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  2. Oh, and I'm a new follower!!!

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  3. Wendy Smith (Chikky)2/19/12, 9:56 PM

    Well, I learned something today :) Didn't know about the innocent-looking oozing as a sign of a dangerous egg. I've not seen that but will sure be on the lookout. (New follower too). Thanks!

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    1. Hi Wendy!! Thanks for joining me on my blog!
      It's also important to wear proper headgear when checking your bator for bad eggs. Safety first. ;)

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  4. Thank you for posting this, I am new to incubating and i can use all the help I can get. I have not encountered a bad egg yet, just some not hatching :( Thanks
    KENSEY ELDER

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    1. Welcome to the addictive world of incubating, Kensey! :)

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  5. I am an addict and did recently come across one of these nasty smelling eggs, stunk up the whole bator. I love your blog:) Marilyn Alexander

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    1. Thank you, Marilyn! I'm glad you're following along. :)

      That smell is unmistakable, isn't it? I cannot fathom the psychological harm done by one that has detonated!

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  6. We just candled our first batch of eggs this week! Only 3 clear and 1 that had stopped developing. Thank goodness it hadn't started to stink! Sarah Holleran

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    1. Yay! New hatching addicts! Welcome to the club. How many did you set?

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  7. I'm pretty sure I have one of the stink bombs you're describing. The incubator stinks terribly and there'd is clearsh yellow ooze coming out from one even though I don't see any holes. When I candle it, it looks like the others so I'm not totally sure if it's dead or not. The problem is that it's day 20 and some are already starting to chirp from inside their shell. I'm 90% sure this one is dead so I don't want to leave it in there to keep stinking or to contaminate the othrers yet also don't want to throw away a live chick by mistake! I'm too squeamish to look inside so what should I do?? Thanks

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  8. we let our hens set our eggs since we don't have an incubator but I candle them at 8-9 days to see if they are developing and anything not gets tossed. So far so good, nothing's exploded yet (knocking on wood)

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  9. I have found one very smelly egg this evening and put it outside. I'm worried it may have been in there rotting for several days as it's ten days since I last looked inside the incubator. Could it be that the incubator is now infected. Should I take the good eggs out and give it a quick clean? Or should it be ok to just leave it?
    Cheers
    Jo

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  10. Hi
    had to remove a bad egg this evening from the incubator - a small rom 20. Very bad smell. Hadn't checked in there for about ten days. The other eggs show signs of movement. but, i'm worried the incubator is infected as it still smells. Should I take the good eggs out and give it a quick wash? Or should it be ok? The eggs have 2 to 3 weeks to go
    Jo

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    1. I probably wouldn't. As long as the egg didn't explode, you should be okay.

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  11. damn,thanks for this blog post;it is forever useful though not what had wanted to hear-one of mine is doing exactly the same thing plus oozing to. the beloved light sussex cockerel of mine was kidnapped this month and am on the only batch left of his girls eggs, one of the eggs had had a crack in it,shoud have known better but had tried to make the most out of a bad situation and after sterilizing,used gaffer tape on the crack,the membrane hadnt been damaged so didnt think itd be a dead end. am going to bury the egg tomorow.

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  12. I rescued about a dozen eggs that my hens stopped setting a few weeks ago. Upon candling I discovered a very smelly egg. Of course you always hope it's just your imagination. Definitely about to bag the stinker up. Also, my eggs seem to all be at different stages of incubation. What gives?

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  13. Philip Baute10/19/13, 10:41 PM

    WE Found Several Of These In Our Incubator Of Duck Eggs. All But 5 Had To Be Tossed, But Those 5 Look Like We Saved Them In Time!

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  14. This is our first time incubating eggs and this has been a real challenge. We made a homemade incubator and keeping the temp and humidity close has been the worst. Like I said this has been our first time so we have learned alot in this process. Any way on day 18 when it is time for our sweet little chicks to hatch we noticed a crack starting on one of the eggs, we waited and nothing happened until up in the night. the crack went on around the egg, but there was an awful smell going on, way worse than before, so we made a decision to open the incubator and it was as we were thinking, it was leaking yellow liquid. My question is has it hurt the other eggs in the incubator and should we continue with the 21 days or stop now?

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  15. TheChickenChick12/28/13, 1:58 PM

    I'd continue on. Clean up the best you can and hope for the best.

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  16. Katie-Nicole1/22/14, 9:17 PM

    I'm new-ish to chickens. I got my first group of six chicks from Tractor Supply last year and half were boys that were given to a new home and I have two of the three girls left (one hen went broody for a good month and dropped a ton of weight and wasn't in good enough shape to survive a surprise cold snap we had). This year I'm trying my hand at incubating. I have 3 olive egger eggs, a dozen welsummer and 18 marans. I'm nervous about being able to adequately tell what eggs are viable and which aren't. My incubator is staying consistent at 100.5 degrees and it's now day 5. I tried to candle today but really didn't see anything. I don't have a sense of smell so smelling rotten eggs are out. Any other tips on how to make sure I'm not making a mistake on determining which eggs stay and which go?

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  17. Luv your info

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  18. I have a slight problem.... I have a broody hen that has been sitting on bought fertilized eggs for 19 days. Yesterday I discovered one that was open with blood but the chick was breathing so I left it alone for 6 hours. When I checked on her again she had destroyed the egg and buried the chick under shavings. She also had tossed some eggs out of the nest and was pecking at and moving the other eggs around. I took them from her in fear that she would destroy them all and put them under a heat lamp. They smell pretty bad because the embryo mucous is smeared on several of them from the hatched one that didn't make it.

    Will they survive under the heat lamp? Should I separate the dirty ones? Will the hen kill the rest of them? Should I put the clean eggs under her?

    I need some advice :-(

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  19. Can't see through these green eggs. Anyway of telling of fertility? Would there be a smell if they weren't fertile after a couple of weeks in the incubator?

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  20. can you hatch twins

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  21. TheChickenChick4/4/14, 1:39 AM

    Rarely.

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  22. Hi. I have some eggs that are on day 21 in an incubator. This is my first experience with this. I'm new to chickens altogether. But my hen was not sitting on her eggs so I figured why not give it a try. When reading the papers on setting up the incubator, they stressed cleanliness to prevent bacteria. So i somewhat washed the eggs before putting them inside. I now know I shouldn't have done that, but too late now. For a week I've smelled a vague bad egg smell. But it's not strong or intolerable. I don't see anything oozing or swelling. Being on day 21 with no explosions... can I assume that I may have a few to hatch afterall or am I getting my hopes up for nothing? If nothing happens today how long should I wait before I take these out & put in the next batch I've collected, unwashed this time of course.

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  23. Stormy Fairweather4/30/14, 9:18 AM

    I have had a couple of eggs that have been smelly and oozing. This is my first time hatching in the incubator and removed them immediately. I broke them open outside so they wouldn't explode on their own and when I did they were perfect little chicks almost completely developed so I thought I had made a mistake. I got worried and Googled this topic and found several results before yours that just didn't answer the question, which was " Does a healthy egg have a bad smell or leak?" Your post was the only one that gave me a clear answer and now I don't feel like I "killed" my baby chicks that were just 2 days from hatching. Thank you!

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  24. I'm glad to know it helped, Stormy!

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  25. Hi I have a 36 day old bantom rooster an he has what seems like lost power in one of his legs? Do you know what would cause this?

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  26. Hello,


    Its my first time incubating eggs. I got worried when I started to smell a bad oder coming from the incubator. So, I candled the eggs and while doing that I found 2 eggs oozing. However, the most disgusting thing was that there where very fast moving and clear larvae/worms wiggling about. What shall I do and what are they.

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  27. Your hens are severely infested with worms if they are in the eggs. You need to de-worm them.

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  28. The worms where not in the egg but in the incubator. I cleansed the incubator and the eggs. Could it have possibly fly's laying eggs on one of the oozing eggs?

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  29. Thank you for your replay.
    I removed the oozing eggs and cleaned the incubator from the leakage. The larvae/worms where not in the eggs themselves however. They where wiggling about in the incubator and on the oozing eggs. Could those worms/larvae be from a fly or are those actual worms.


    If so, could you suggest me a de-wormer. For, I am deworming my chickens regularly once a week ( I was advised to do that since I am letting my chicken run free around) and am now fearing that the product I am using doesn't work.

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  30. Thanks for the information about the wax substance. I thought my fan was leaking oil, but you saved me from cleaning the rotten eggs anymore.

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  31. My broody just hatched her first chick. She was sitting on three eggs. Today was day 23, so I went investigating, especially since she abandoned them this afternoon. The eggs had no odor. I didn't have an ovoscope, so candling was difficult for the blue eggs. I gently cracked the first one with the back end of a butter knife, stated peeling off the shell. Found a fully formed dead chick. The odor, though the inner lining had not broke was immense. The third egg was down with a yellow green inside. This Americana had some very thick shells. I know there area lot of factors that lead to chick demise, but could the thickness of the shell cause a chick to be unable to pip?

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  32. Robin Renee Chapman11/22/14, 10:34 AM

    I have a question, I have a barred rock hen that has been sitting on 12-14 eggs. she has been very dilegent, but yesterday got some chicken poop on some eggs, is it better to take eggs out and clean them quickly and refresh nest, or leave them be? it has been about 16-18 days we estemate.

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