Candling Chicken Eggs

Recently one of my chickens went broody. You can see the story here. I decided to put my egg candling experience on a separate page, so here it is!

Here are the eggs I’m candling:

I’ve had the eggs since 5/4/05. We’re not sure how old they were when they arrived, but we were told that they wouldn’t really start developing until a hen was sitting on them which was two days ago.

Here is how I’m candling the eggs: I take my super high powered LED flashlight and cup my hand to make a tunnel for the light to pass through. I put the flashlight against one side and the egg against the other. It is quick and easy. Below is Alana showing me where the egg is suppose to be:

I’ve never done this before so I wanted to candle a store bought egg to use as my egg candling benchmark.

Store Bought Egg

One of my fertilized eggs (a few days old)

Here Is my Egg Log. Remember, I’m not exactly sure how old these eggs are, so I’m going to say that Thursday, 5/4 is Day 1 (the first day she was on the eggs all day).




My camera started to have a very hard time focusing on the eggs after day 3 so all the pictures came out too fuzzy to post. If / when we ever do this again I’ll be sure to use a better camera and take some better pictures

Today is Mother’s Day! What a great day to candle eggs and see if my hen is going to be a mother. I candled all of the 7 eggs. The three big eggs seem to all have well formed webs of veins. The 4 smaller eggs didn’t seem as developed, but all of them had what looked like developing chicks. We actually saw a tiny little beating heart in one of the large eggs. I tried to take a video, but it didn’t really come out very well. I’ve been reading that some people don’t like to handle the eggs too much, so I’m not sure if I’ll continue to candle every day. Curiosity may get the best of me though.

Here is a pic of one of the tiny eggs:

Oh, today at church a friend (the one who gave us our original chicks) mentioned that one of his hens was broody and sitting on some eggs. One of the eggs exploded under her (eggs get bacteria in them which grows and builds gass / pressure) and so they discarded all the other eggs. They went to the feed store, picked up some chicks and put them under her. She didn’t miss a beat and raised them as her own. If things don’t work out with our chicks maybe this will be a good option for us.

I took out all the eggs again and carefully candled all of them with my wife. Good news: we verified that all 7 eggs have moving little chicks inside. So far so good! One of the smaller eggs had an embryo that was moving so much that we decided to take a video. See the video below of the chick moving around. Look closely and you can probably see some little feet kicking!

I tried to candle three eggs yesterday and I didn’t see a fraction of the movement as I had in the videos. I’m hoping it is because it is getting too crowded in the egg to do the chickie boogie and not that they are sickly / quitting. It did seem that I saw more of a chick silhouette in the egg which is pretty cool. Another thing I noticed was “floaties” in the egg. Pieces of something that was floating / sinking independent of anything else. I wonder if this is normal.

We pulled out all the eggs tonight to candle them. It is probably the last time we will candle them since they will be hatching in a few days or so. The eggs were VERY dark except for the air pockets at the big end of the eggs. A few of the eggs looked as though a little bump was protruding from the dark mass into the air pocket. We looked closely for movement in each egg, but it was hard because they were so dark. For the most part every egg seemed to have at least a little bit of movement. One egg was especially dark and as I was rolling it to look for movement my wife pointed out a tiny little crack that looked like an X on the egg. This is so exciting!

For the rest of the story go HERE!

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95 thoughts on “Candling Chicken Eggs

  1. I have a broody hen that has been sitting for almost 7 days. I recently went out to candle the eggs to see how things were going. The concern is that I candled all 5 eggs and could not see through 3 of them. I used a LED light — it is like it is not strong enough to penetrate the shell. Any ideas? This is her first time in doing this and we got eggs from a local farm that had several free range chickens. If I cant see through them should I get rid of them? She is very busy.. adjusting and turning. I dont want to depress her by taking them away. She seems very happy and content. Should I try to get some “for sure” fertilized eggs that I can candle? Help.

  2. Not all flashlights are the same, check out the forum like Rob has suggested and you can find a lot. Do a search for surefire flashlights and you can see what I use.

  3. I bought a special candling penlight with instructions, and we could see very little except the air pocket. My eggs are blue, so I’m not sure if that makes a difference, but the photos and video posted here are amazing! We didn’t see anything like yours. We now have two chicks just hatched and we’re waiting to see if the 7 more hatch. In my opinion, our little penlight was a waste of money even though it was sold as an egg candling light. Thanks for posting this stuff. It’s really great to see!

  4. I have about twenty-one chicken eggs. I think something happened because they were developing fine, but on the fourth day the dot in the middle started to move. Is that bad?

  5. I am incubating some eggs and they are about to hatch, but I don’t know if they will hatch. I hear like the chick is banging it’s beak on the egg. Someone please help! Kali.

  6. Hi, it sounds very unlikely that anything will come of this but i thought for the sake of the egg i would give it 1 more try at life since i found it under a bush (warm) at my livery yard. there are many chickens and suprisingly many cockrels aswell. there are also 3 dogs which i thought may have chased the hen away before she had finished hatching as a couple of days later i was tld there was a hen with lots of eggs in my stable. i was unsure wheter or not to take the egg to the hen as i was worried she might get upset and disown her nest. so here i am with my egg which i have kept in my airing cuboard with a series of ‘hand warmers’. the egg is not white and so i’m not sure wheter i will be able to ‘candle it’ or not. everything i have done so far is what i have been advised from my reletives who have had chickens before. i am also in the process of building a mini incubator. is it too late to start this? i would really appreciate a reply to this as i would love to give this egg a chance but i am unsure that i am doing it any good at all.

    please help,, and i loved watching the video of the small chick it was amazing!

    thanks and if possible please reply to my email ?

    thanks a lot x

  7. Dear kim, It may be to late, but anyway. I would think using an incubater would be the only way to hatch them. You can get incubaters at They are pretty inspinsive. I don’t know how to spell that. here’s another thing. You can go to and ask a question. Thay’re also really smart! Kali. Age 11.

  8. Josh, He’ll be fine with the dog. I’ve had ducklings raised with chicks and cats and once they get about “teenage”, they realize they are ducks and take to the pond even though their chick buddies don’t. He/she is just looking for a mommy right now, and the dog seems a more reasonable size to him than you do!

  9. mixing breeds in the same brooding area a bad idea? I have turkeys, cornish hens and i beleive by its size some kind of batam or frissle.

  10. What awonderful informative sight. I have 24 eggs in the incubator and it is only the second time I have done this. Thought I would look on the internet and came across your sight. Lovely photography and a pleasure to view!
    Well done

    Many thanks Shraon

  11. im currently doing a project for my sophomore science class… im on day 8 of incubation..i just candled my eggs for the 1st time. and surprisingly they’re all alive. im so happy.. im anxiously waiting for day 21. i cant wait to see them hatch! 🙂 … its so crazy waiting to be the mother of 4 chickies!

  12. Hey good work over there. When I was growing up we were taught that if u tamper with eggs which the hen has started to brood as in you pick them, tilt them or anything close to ths they will not hatch. How true is this.

  13. I received hens from someone about 3 weeks ago who no longer wanted them. She had a rooster but keep him. One of the hens has been sitting on a nest with all the eggs from all the hens. I went out today and gathered the little eggs that I was sure that my batans laid (the others are full size). I tried to candle them but without much luck so I decided to open one to double check and there was a baby chick in it fully formed. I quickly put the rest of the eggs back in the nest but they had been out about 20-30 minutes. I don’t have a rooster.(That I know off)Will the rest of the eggs be ok? How did they become fertile to began with. How soon will they hatch. The baby didn’t even attempt to move or breath. It has been really hot here 110 plus degress. I have them in shade and with a swamp color going but am really worred about them. 🙁 I signed up for the forum but need to know soon. HELP.

  14. Where can you find a really good flashlight?How big should the embryo be after 1week of inqubation

  15. My goodness, I must live a sheltered life not to have known this site was here! LOL But to be honest every question here has been answered many times over on…my home away from home. 🙂 Lots of pics with the answers, too. Hope to meet you all over there!

  16. Yes. Join backyard chickens! Hey Rob I mean Nifty! I found this surfing the BYC history page.

  17. Hey Chantelle, join the backyardschicken for more information. seems ya eggs have gone bad.
    To Nifty-stuff what shoild be the exact size and weight of an apppropriate egg?
    Rob wnat do u have to say?

  18. This site is making me feel real stupid. I’m 54 years old and never really questioned what made the eggs edible and what made others to hatch chickens. I had just bought some eggs from a local farm and most of them were nice and bright yellow. But then I cracked another one open and there were some feathers. So do the eggs just come out everyday and if the chicken mates with the rooster then they could be fertile? If so, then egg farmers must segregate the hens from the roosters, right? At the farm I bought from, all of the chickens roamed freely with the roosters. Is that why some were growing chicks inside? Are fertile eggs OK to eat and if so, what is the time period during which it is OK to eat them? I never thought breakfast would require this much thinking. It’s OK to use my email address. Jay

  19. Jay, some really good questions! I’d suggest you post them on to get some really great advice, but to your main questions:

    1) Chickens don’t need roosters to lay eggs, but if there are roosters the eggs will probably be fertile
    2) The fertile eggs don’t usually develop unless they are in warm and humid conditions. If the conditions are right, the fertile eggs can certainly develop (only 21 days from egg to hatching chick)
    3) Many places sell fertile eggs. They just keep them cool and dry so they don’t develop. From what I’ve read there is nothing better or worse about fertile eggs that haven’t developed.
    4) You can eat an egg / chick at any point in development… nothing changes that will necessarily hurt you… it just may not be as pleasing to eat a partially formed chick. Some cultures actually incubate the eggs and eat the partially formed chick called balut. Sounds gross if you ask me, but very common in some countries. See this article on wikipedia (not for squeamish: )

  20. HELP! We are trying to candle 11 eggs left in nest boxes on the day our beloved hens were killed by dogs! QUESTION: Should the flashlight be UNDER the egg or should the flashlight be shined through the large or small end of the egg in order to determine fertility. Our BROWN eggs have been in an incubator now for 8 days and all we can see is what appears to be a solid somewhat darker round shape floating near the top – when we look down upon the eggs while they are laying on their sides. If there are veins, we’re not seeing those, but hoping perhaps our flashlight is not a strong enough light. IS THERE HOPE?? Sad & lonely & badly missing our beloved chickens! Dee’s family

  21. i have had six mallard duck eggs for three 2 full days (almost 3). i tried to candle them and they still look like day 1 on this site. is it because they grow slower than chicks do in eggs or did i do something wrong?

    please reply =)

  22. I’m doing a science project on chicks.My eggs are 15 days old.I can’t wait to bring them to school tomorrow.
    Just one problem:every time I open the incubator the tempature goes crazy down.
    Is this bad?
    Other than that everything is good.My mom said the eggs are getting heavy!

  23. hi my name is ashley and i am a year 11 gcse student for one of my studies we were given 2 eggs each and sadly only one of my eggs hatched the problem with the chick that hatched is that it has rye disease??? i have tried to research this but no luck at all its neck is bent upwards and runs backwards when it neck is bent backwards and ideas on how to cure or help my chicken ?? please let me know

  24. zuri i just read your comment the only thing i recomend is turing the temperature down slowly before you bring the eggs out then turn the temperature back up so there is no rapid drop in temperature.

  25. Wonderful advice to my problem,everyone,but now they are too old to turn.I have a new problem.The eggs are at school now,and I am worried the kids who get there before me might “just look”at them and mess it up or impair the eggs in some way.
    One time I was checking the eggs and someone kicked it!Then everyone was blaming each other.One kid said,”You know what REAL mother hens do when someone threatens their eggs?Your mom said you took care of the eggs like a hen.”He meant get angry.What can I do?HELP!I need the advice by tonight!

  26. We will try to be as careful as possible around the eggs and incubator. We are excited to see if the eggs will hatch. It looks like one is cracking!!!
    Thanks for trusting us around your awesome science project!!!
    Good Luck Zurster.
    Your friends…

  27. Thank you!!!!! I will defenetly trust you from now on.And Mrs.Decker,thanks for letting us go online.It stinks that the viedo didn’t work.

  28. MY CHICKS HATCHED!!!!!My teacher called this morning.We have nine!!They are peeping.We named four chicks.Pip,Color,Goldie,and Brownie.Wee problem.Two needed to be handhatched.One of them(hand) hatched too early.His\her stomach
    was open!Can we help him\her?Will he\she make it?And please answer directly
    instead of saying,”Go on_______________________________.”And Eli,were you talking to me?

  29. I recently started getting serious about raising chickens bought older hens and got baby chicks from the local farm store. I also got a Brower top hatch incubator which seems to be working fine. Candled 23 eggs today and so far i think they are all doing fine.It was day ten. I have some hens who tried to lay on some eggs here and there but they do not stick with it. I know I’m feeding them plenty they get 3 diff kinds of feed plus scraps.Every time we come out of the house the whole troop comes running.When candling the eggs i cut a hole in the side of a small box and lay it on it’s side and use treble light with regular 60 watt bulb works great for me. i hope this helps thanks for posting

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