Chickens 101: Unscrambling Myths Behind Fertile Eggs

by Kassandra Smith August 21, 2014

We’ve had a few queries from some of our chicken keeping customers who have a rooster in their flock about fertile eggs. How do you tell if an egg is fertilised? Can you still eat them? Well we’re here to unscramble some fertile egg FAQ’s!

Backyard chicken eggs

How to identify a fertile egg

If you crack it open, a fertile egg can be identified by a small white circle on the yolk called a ‘blastodisc’. This has a ‘bullseye’ like shape - i.e. one small white circle, with another white ring on the outside of it.

This white circle is merely a cluster of cells, and not a baby chick. It is only when a fertilised egg is incubated through a broody hen sitting on them, or by an incubator, that the cells will begin to develop into an embryo. So if you collect your eggs freshly laid, there’s no chance of it being an embryo.

Can I eat my chicken’s fertile eggs?

The short answer is yes! There are no adverse effects from eating a fertilised egg, nor is there any taste difference. You can prepare and serve fertilised eggs just as you would unfertilised ones!

Is there a point when fertilised eggs shouldn’t be eaten?

If you haven’t collected your hens eggs for a few days, or your hen has gone broody and is sitting on them, they may have been incubated and the embryo may be developing - not something that is particularly palatable to most of us!

You can candle the egg to see if it has developed by going into a dark room, and shining a bright light onto the larger side of the egg. You should be able to see a dark embryo and some spider veins if the embryo is growing.

So if you’ve got a rooster in your flock and don’t know if your eggs or fertilised, don’t be hesitant. If you’ve collected them fresh, they are still perfect to scramble, fry, poach and eat!

Sources and further reading

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