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How to Candle Chicken Eggs for a Successful Hatch

Knowing How to Candle Chicken Eggs for a Successful Hatch is a game changer when it comes to hatching eggs.

Do you ever wonder what goes on inside those chicken eggs while they’re incubating? You need to learn how to candle chicken eggs for a successful hatch.

I mean, think about it. Inside those teeny tiny eggs, there’s a tiny baby chick growing inside that’s eventually going to come out of there. This is the one you’ve been waiting for.

I’m going to introduce you to a little known trick known as candling. I’m just kidding. It’s a pretty widely known trick. People hatching chicken eggs had been candling doing it since the beginning of time, even before flashlights! And now you can see what’s going on in those chicken eggs.

I’m a multi-passionate millennial farmer and a mom to two little girls who love it. When I take the eggs out of the incubator to candle them, my girls love seeing what’s going on inside. I love teaching them about baby chick development. That is essentially what candling is. It’s being able to look inside the egg and seeing if the chick is continuing to develop or not.

Today I’m going to:
– Go through the process of how to candle chicken eggs for a successful hatch,
– Tell you what types of candlers that are available for you to get,
– Share some problems that you might face and what to do if you do see some problems. So let’s dive in.

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How to Candle Chicken Eggs for a Successful Hatch

First of all, what is candling?

Well, candling an egg allows you to see what’s going on inside the egg. What you can see can show you if the chick is developing or not.

With candling, you can get a pretty good idea of whether the egg is progressing or if you’re running into some problems. And as I mentioned above, candling has been being done since even before a flashlights!

Originally, candling was done with a candle! I guess that’s why it’s called candling. But nowadays you can use flashlights or other candlers that I’m going to go into later on in this post. Let’s talk a little bit more about why you should know how to candle chicken eggs for a successful hatch.

Why should you do it?

Do you have to candle the eggs? The answer is no. You do not have to candle the eggs. But the two main reasons people do candle eggs is:

1. It’s fun to see the development of the embryo.
2. It’s good to identify problem eggs or chicks not developing.

Sometimes the chicks can die inside the eggs. So it’s a good idea to candle and see if that has happened. You can look at the air sack inside, on the bigger end of the egg. The air sack should be progressing or expanding, making more air for that chick.

So you should be able to tell that through candling. That will give you some idea of whether the chick is developing properly or if it’s not. If you don’t see any veins in there, no mass or a mass that’s not really developing, then you have a problem with your egg. And also if you see any cracks in your egg or anything like that, then it’s probably a good idea to just get rid of that egg.

So why candling? It can potentially help you get rid of problem eggs and eggs with chicks not developing properly. Or not developing at all because they might’ve died. So put in a nutshell, that’s why people candle.

So when should you candle eggs?

You should definitely not candle the eggs every day. Actually, you won’t see good progress until day number 4 of the incubation process.

So, you definitely would have wait until after day ‘4’ to candle. I recommend day ‘8’ and day 16 as the two days when you should candle your eggs.

And so the eggs are in the incubator, they’re turning every so often. On day 8, you can take some eggs out one at a time and candle them. Then, day 16 can give you a really good outlook of understanding of what’s going on in there. Sometimes by day 16, you can even hear the little chicks chirping away inside. And that’s pretty rare. They usually don’t start chirping until about day 18.

Just keep that in mind. You may hear them and you may not, but if you do that, that’s a good sign that there’s a live healthy baby chick inside.

Types of Egg Candlers

So let’s talk about the type of egg handlers that you can use. I’ve been incubating eggs for many years. As an extension agent, I went into the schools to hatch eggs with 3rd graders. I actually had a grant to do this. So I purchased some pretty nice candling systems with some really nice lights.

But, you definitely do not have to buy one! You can use what you have, which is what I use now.

Homemade Egg Candler

I no longer have access to a nice candler. Instead of buying a new one for home, I actually just made my own. We have simple nice LED flashlights. We have lots of paper towels and go through a lot of paper towels at our house with two little girls making messes.

So, we always have paper towel rolls or toilet paper rolls hanging around. You can just get one of those rolls and unravel it to where you can wrap it around the egg and it’ll fit tightly.

Then, you want to candle in a really dark place. So you want to be in a dark room for this to work. Turn off all the lights, cover up the windows, do whatever you have to do to make it super dark, as dark as possible. Then you simply shine the flashlight up through the paper towel roll or toilet paper roll, whatever you’re using. And you should be able to see inside the egg. The light will be glowing through the egg and you’ll be able to see everything inside as much as possible. So that’s basically the just of candling.

Brinseas OvaScope High Intensity Egg Candler

The first option is a Brinseas OvaScope high intensity egg candler. It’s really high intensity. It has a webcam for educational application and also a viewing lens. So if you are using this for educational purposes, this would be a really cool thing to have for the classroom or home school. It’s really high quality and you can do a lot with it.

Titan Incubators High Intensity Egg Candler

The second one I’m going to mention is the Titan Incubators High Intensity Egg Candler. And this one’s really simple. It’s almost as good as a flash light, but it’s ultra high intensity and no heat risk to the egg. So pretty, pretty simple to use. You just set the egg on top and you’ll be able to see inside.

Magicfly Bright Cool LED Egg Candler

And finally there’s one that looks a lot like a flashlight. It’s the Magic fly bright egg Candler and it’s LED. It’s the most affordable of the three. And there’s different egg size adapters with it. It’s also very portable.

Those are the three that I recommend if you want to purchase a fancy one that will do a lot more than just a flashlight. But again, using a simple LED flashlight that you more than likely have on hand already will work just as well. I’ve candled so many eggs the past almost four years being home now. My girls still love looking inside and seeing the air cell and everything inside. They can see it perfectly in there. So that works just as well if you want to just use that.

So what exactly are you looking for?

Here’s where I’m going to kind of describe what you’re going to be looking for during candling. But don’t forget to grab these:

You can also use it for this episode with this candling episode. You can make notes, which I’ll go over in a little bit, make notes about each time that you can know what you’re seeing and that, that, that type of thing. You’ll be so impressed on what you’ll learn and you’ll look back on your notes and be totally amazed of what you saw. So let’s talk about what you’re going to see.

Days 4-5:

Remember it’s a little early for you to be candling. But if you are to look at the eggs this soon, you should be seeing tiny hairlike veins spreading through the egg. If you can’t see that, don’t worry. Put the egg back and keep waiting just a few more days.

Day 7 or 8:

I recommend day eight. But if you just simply can’t wait, day seven is enough. You should be starting to see something here. You should see an increase in the size of the vein web. So, you should be able to look inside and see like spider vein type things inside.

You should also see the start of an air cell at the blunt end of the egg. The bigger end of the egg, you should be able to see that air cell. Now that air cell is how the chicks breathe, so as time goes on it’s going to expand or get bigger.

A few days after that day 10 you could get the eggs out again. If you just simply cannot wait for day 16 you just can’t wait for that.

Day 10:

When you candle eggs on day 10, you’re going to be seeing the chick. By now, the chick is going to be showing up pretty well. It’s going to be filled up a lot of space and the air cell should be expanded.

You should also be able to clearly see an eye. So if you see a large black bob, that may be the chicken’s eye. You might even be able to see some movement. So a lot happening by day 10 that you’re gonna probably want to be noticing. And then of course, day 16, 17, this is kind of the end really.

Day 16/17:

You’re candling to see if there’s any eggs that were not developed. Again, problem eggs, any cracked ones, anything that you might want to go ahead and discard. Other than that, you don’t really see much happening because the chick is pretty much developed. It’s slowly moving into the hatching position now.

And so you want to definitely avoid moving the egg around too much since the check needs to orient itself to get ready to hatch.

And then of course, day 18, no more moving or it around, no more turning, no more candling. Now the eggs are on lock down, which means they are ready to hatch in about three more days.

So no more turning them. Get the turner out of there and set the eggs into position. The rest is up to the chicks to see if they can get out of the eggs. So that is just a basic timeline of candling. Day seven or eight, day 10 if you want and then day 16, 17 are really good candling days.

How to Candle the Eggs

So let’s talk now about the candling process. How do you actually candle the eggs? If you buy one of those fancy aide candlers that I was telling you about, you’re definitely going to want to follow the instructions included with that type of candler. If you’re using the whole made candler like I have, you just want it to be completely dark. You need a dark room.

Closets work really well. Just get everybody in there and shut the door and it’ll be completely dark and spooky. But then when you turn the light of the candler on, all you’ll be able to see is the egg shining bright and it’s totally cool. So that is basically how to candle. You’ll want to shine a light on the egg in a dark room. You can move the flashlight around, move the egg around, and really see inside every part of where the chick is and see how well that air sack is really coming along.

Take Great Notes

Now when you do candle them, you definitely want to take some good notes using the resources that I’ve shared with you. You also want to use a number two pencil to mark the eggs that you candled. You can put an X on them or whatever you need to do to show that they’re good quality eggs lots of development inside.

As you candle, keep some good notes on the eggs so that if you do run into problems you’ll know what the environment was like for those eggs. So here’s some things you should keep notes on:

– Temperature
– Humidity
– Day Number
– Air Cell Size

And then some people like to keep track of the outside temperature and outside humidity. You can do that if you want, but if you’re using an incubator then it’s not really necessary to do you. You can if you think that might be causing something to happen, but if not, then I don’t think it’s really a huge deal. So definitely keep good notes that you can refer back to if you need to.

Are there any limitations of candling?

There are a few limitations. If you have dark colored eggs, like the dark Brown eggs, they’re going to be harder to see into. The lighter the egg, the better.

So, I have some Black French Moran hens that lay beautiful dark brown colored eggs. They are gorgeous, but they are super hard to candle. It’s very hard to see what’s going on in there just because they’re so dark. And what you can see is really limited.

Also, you may be looking at what looks like a blob or you might be noted or you might notice the major air sack at the top of the egg. You should also start to see some veins and less bubbles. So if you are having trouble seeing that, you might want to choose an actual lighter colored egg to see through.

So those are mainly the limitations of candling. But I definitely think that they won’t hold you back too much from trying to move the egg around to see what’s inside them.

Candling Chicken Eggs is Fun!

And that my friend is the just of candling. I hope that it is fairly complete for you. As you can see, candling is pretty simple and it’s a lot of fun. It can be very fun and interesting, especially if you have little ones. But even for me as an adult, I love candling the eggs and seeing what’s going on.

Candling is a skill that will help you with your hatching proficiency later on. It’s going to help you become better at hatching baby chicks, whether you’re using an incubator or a brood hen, which I talk about in this episode. You can definitely candle those eggs as well.

Of course, the initial learning curve of candling can be frustrating. However, I want to encourage you to stick with it. It really does become easier with practice. I remember the first time I ever candled and I had the fancy egg egg candler. I still didn’t really know what I was looking for. But with time I got better at it and you will, too.

Remember that each egg has its own time frame for hatching. Juggling around two or three different types of eggs or two or three different different ages of eggs and one egg incubator is not really going to be successful. You want them all to be the same age and the same size. So keep that in mind as well.

So friend, good luck with your hatching and also with your candling. This was a really fun post to do because I love candling the eggs. It also kind of completes our series on hatching chicks.

How to Candle Chicken Eggs for a Successful Hatch

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