I am participating in a hatching egg swap for Mahonri’s 3rd Annual Easter Hatch-a-long over on BYC. So, for the first time, I had to prepare my chickens to lay nutritionally superlative eggs so that their chicks can be born healthy and well-formed. I added a mixture of UltraKibble, dried mealworms, poultry conditioner, and crushed eggshells to their daily scratch ration in addition to the black oil sunflower seeds they get for protein each day.
I collected their eggs for three days before selecting those to ship. Hatching eggs need to be stored in a cool location with plenty of humidity, preferably 55-68 degrees F. with 75% humidity. For me, this means in my shower beside a bowl of water with the glass doors closed. For others, it is the basement, garage, or an unheated room of the house. Store eggs wide end up, just like you hatch them, because the wide end (as opposed to the pointy end) contains the air cell. The eggs should be turned once a day, best accomplished by putting a small board or book under one end of the carton and moving it to the other end the next day. The carton should be closed to ensure a steadier temperature. Most say not to store eggs for more than 7 days, but others have had success with eggs up to two weeks old.
I then narrowed them down by selecting those which were not too porous and were as clean as possible, given all of the rain we’ve had over the past few weeks. Despite the calcium in the feed, the free-choice oyster shell, and the egg shell in the scratch, some girls couldn’t produce a nice, solid shell. I had to discard those. Porous shells will allow more bacteria to enter the egg and hasten evaporation from the egg, certainly not ideal for hatching.
To ship, I decided to follow the Meeks Method of Skyline Poultry, the farm providing my Basque Hen (Euskal Oiloa) eggs. Basically, each egg is wrapped in a long length of bubble wrap, bubbles towards the egg, with the ends of the rolls left open. Tape around the middle of each roll. The eggs are packed into the box, wide end up, and shipped off! I hope it works!